FAME

Take it from me, Albert Einstein. Fame is vastly over-rated!

I’ve been extremely famous: I got the Nobel Prize; folks say I’m a world-beater; I changed physics and history forever; journalists want to interview me for my opinions on anything; presidents and professors and captains of industry all want a piece of me; and so on and on and on. You wouldn’t believe the undeserved invitations, the toasts, the introductions, the honors, I get. Why should I be honored for merely doing what comes naturally to me? I’m not a genius; I just stay with a problem longer than others.

Get a load of this: here’s a picture of me wearing a Hopi Indian head-dress!  I’m not an Indian Chief, but according to Hopi folk-lore and culture, I am. Who told them about me?  Why did they believe it? I’m sure the chief honcho had to earn his head-dress. Just imagine what he had to do. But I did nothing to earn this honor.

But in the end, I put on my Hopi Head-dress just like Indians do. And I put on my trousers one leg at a time. Just like journalists do. But they are always hungry for a story. And if their story isn’t interesting enough, they will bend or twist the truth to make it sell newspapers.

And of course, anyone who is sufficiently popular or notorious as I am can become victimized by such deceptive zealous interviewers.. Here’s an example…

One day, a gentleman of the press comes to me and asks me to give him a few details concerning my best friend, a Mr. X.  Amazed, and maybe a bit annoyed by the intrusion on my privacy, I say:

“My dear friend Mr. X is a cheerful straight-forward man, much liked by all his friends. He can find a bright side to any situation.  His enterprise and industry know no bounds; his job takes up his entire energies. He is devoted to his family, and lays everything he possesses at his wife’s feet.”

And here’s what this excitable sensationalist reporter writes for his newspaper (in bold type, yet):

Mr. X takes nothing seriously. He has the knack of making people like him, chiefly because he flatters everyone.  He is such a slave to his profession that he has no time – doubtless no inclination – for intellectual pursuits.  He is weakly indulgent to his wife; in fact he is entirely under her thumb, mere putty in her hands.”

So how do you think I feel about this sad outcome? I took the reporter seriously, and I end up looking like a buffoon. I can assure I’m not a buffoon. I’m a seeker after cosmic beauty, an appreciator of the orderly laws of the Universe.

Just look at this cartoon from a century ago. It shows newspaper reporters peddling fake news, cheap sensation, humbug news!  That’s what they’re really like! Prevaricators! Maybe they flatter you to get your attention… But watch out! They’re slimy phonies. And all because of the fame game.

A good day, for me, is spent at the black-board and at my desk, smoking my pipe, and pondering the harmonies of the spheres, the origin of black holes, gravitational waves, and the mysteries of the Universe. I’ve often thought that the hurly-burley of every-day life is so unpredictable and changeable. But what is important in life is what does not change – the eternal verities…love, justice, truth, beauty.

What is more important in the long run?  What is visible?  Or what is invisible?  Buckminster Fuller said the greatest discovery of the twentieth century is that the invisible is more important than the visible.  I agree.

And at the end of the day, I love playing my violin…either alone, or with some of my scientist colleagues.

Have I been talking too long? That’s what happens when you get to be my age. Or when you get to be immortal.

FAME

Take it from me, Albert Einstein. Fame is vastly over-rated!

I’ve been extremely famous: I got the Nobel Prize; folks say I’m a world-beater; I changed physics and history forever; journalists want to interview me for my opinions on anything; presidents and professors and captains of industry all want a piece of me; and so on and on and on. You wouldn’t believe the undeserved invitations, the toasts, the introductions, the honors, I get. Why should I be honored for merely doing what comes natural to me? I’m not a genius; I just stay with a problem longer than others.

Get a load of this: here’s a picture of me wearing a Hopi Indian head-dress!  I’m not an Indian Chief, but according to Hopi folk-lore and culture, I am. Who told them about me?  Why did they believe it? I’m sure the chief honcho had to earn his head-dress. Just imagine what he had to do. But I did nothing to earn this honor.

But in the end, I put on my Hopi Head-dress just like Indians do. And I put on my trousers one leg at a time. Just like journalists do. But they are always hungry for a story. And if their story isn’t interesting enough, they will bend or twist the truth to make it sell newspapers.

And of course anyone who is sufficiently popular or notorious as I am can become victimized by such deceptive zealous interviewers.. Here’s an example…

One day, a gentleman of the press comes to me and asks me to give him a few details concerning my best friend, a Mr. X.  Amazed, and maybe a bit annoyed by the intrusion on my privacy, I say:

“My dear friend Mr. X is a cheerful straight-forward man, much liked by all his friends. He can find a bright side to any situation.  His enterprise and industry know no bounds; his job takes up his entire energies. He is devoted to his family, and lays everything he possesses at his wife’s feet.”

And here’s what this excitable sensationalist reporter writes for his newspaper (in bold type, yet):

Mr. X takes nothing seriously. He has the knack of making people like him, chiefly because he flatters everyone.  He is such a slave to his profession that he has no time – doubtless no inclination – for intellectual pursuits.  He is weakly indulgent to his wife; in fact he is entirely under her thumb, mere putty in her hands.”

So how do you think I feel about this sad outcome? I took the reporter seriously, and I end up looking like a buffoon. I can assure I’m not a buffoon. I’m a seeker after cosmic beauty, an appreciator of the orderly laws of the Universe.

Just look at this cartoon from a century ago. It shows newspaper reporters peddling fake news, cheap sensation, humbug news!  That’s what they’re really like! Prevaricators! Maybe they flatter you to get your attention… But watch out! They’re slimy phonies. And all because of the fame game.

A good day, for me, is spent at the black-board and at my desk, smoking my pipe, and pondering the harmonies of the spheres, the origin of black holes, gravitational waves, and the mysteries of the Universe. I’ve often thought that the hurly-burley of every-day life is so unpredictable and changeable. But what is important in life is what does not change – the eternal verities…love, justice, truth, beauty.

What is more important in the long run?  What is visible?  Or what is invisible?  Buckminster Fuller said the greatest discovery of the twentieth century is that the invisible is more important than the visible.  I agree.

And at the end of the day, I love playing my violin…either alone, or with some of my scientist colleagues.

Have I been talking too long? That’s what happens when you get to be my age. Or when you get to be immortal.