We thrive on excellence. We suck in the achievements of others. We live vicariously through their sexual conquests. It’s like drinking adrenaline through a straw. It’s like having success on tap. And I do not condone this. But it does make me consider how we measure excellence – and why our culture glorifies it so.
I like James Bond, because he’s suave and smooth and he’s the secret agent that everyone wants to be… or wants to kill. But either way, he has all of the answers. He always knows what to say (Um… is um, not a part of his suave vocabulary). He KNOWS what he’s doing with his life. He doesn’t get emotionally connected – he hooks up with whoever, whenever. And who cares? In the time it takes to pop in another James Bond movie, the screenwriters will have erased and rewritten all of his previous emotional attachments.
It’s also reminiscent of the characters in Ayn Rand books. I admire their excellence, impeccable morals, and untouchable values. I like that they do not apologize for anything, but rather, they have the courage and morals to stand up for what they KNOW that they are good at. They are damn good at what they do and they don’t care about what society dictates is acceptable.
Why did I write an entire post on excellence and its place in our society and culture? To be honest, I had some free time. But more importantly, our ideals play a huge role in what we like. I rent James Bond movies and buy Ayn Rand books to reinforce ideals that have, but I will never become or achieve. The best in my field? Great thing to aspire towards, but I don’t even know what my future holds. I am not as clearly defined or as emotionally unattached as the characters of excellence I idealize. Our culture cultivates excellence so that we can be continually disappointed in ourselves. So that we can look at magazines and know that we will never be as perfectly airbrushed as the model so seductively posed on the cover. So that we will consume and desire more, and think about ourselves and reality less. It’s humanly impossible not to ever feel guilty. It’s impossible to avoid rejection. And who would want to? Now that I think about it, we would be nothing without the highs and lows that help to define us – the daily nuances that the characters of such “excellence” we so long for have never experienced, or probably would not appreciate.
What kind of excellence do you consume? Why?