It has always been profound to me that the brass ring is a brass ring.

Q: Check out those nude celebs?!?!

R: Of their nature, people who chase what the world calls success are themselves, prey.

Even as they overtake their goals, consume their rewards and wear the trophies of their success, they are themselves pursued. In pursuing this narrow form of success they believe they are becoming more free. Privately, they hope for a less abstract experience of Self. But unknowingly, they destroy both their freedom and their self-definition. This is because people who are motivated by narrow ideas of achievement are chasing themselves. And the more nourished they become by their success, the more they come to be composed by the hunt for it. In this way, the essential motion of a person moved by conventional ambition—the relentless, onwards push towards achievement—begins to buckle, bend and then finally to warp so completely that it meets itself. The end becomes the beginning and voracity replaces satisfaction as the reward for success. ‘Self’ becomes an activity, and these people become circular personalities: gleaming, closed, masturbatory, and above all, boring.

 (It ought also to go without saying that

  • Capitalism knows just what to do with millions and millions of self-interested atoms, each ignorant of the others and all furiously jerking off to and around an innermost, unreachable self;
  • & that it—Capitalism—may even be the only possible superstructure that can rise from a sea of these)

These personalities, vacuous, self-consuming and toxic as they are, come to be seen as both the precursor and hallmark of success. And so also the object of imitation. Hence our present culture of imitation. In this culture a successful person crosses the luminous border into celebrity when he or she tricks others, less successful, into believing that success—and freedom, and self-definition—are only an imitative act away.

 (It ought also to go without saying that

  • this is what turns beneath the hood of every business concerned with its customers’ lifestyle—which is to say, every business that advertises;
  • & that OprahGwyneth Paltrow and every rapper since Sean Combs are all excellent examples of businesses coterminous with the lifestyle icon to whose position their customers aspire)

However, the toxicity of these personalities has a deeper effect than merely to commercialize happiness. You see this in people who are not successful, despite being selfish—people whose attempts at imitation do not end with cooking like Gwenyth but erect instead a vast and frustrated entitlement. Fundamentally, this is the type of person who yearns for the downfall of celebrities. This is the person who thinks that something has been achieved, that a blow has been struck, when they can see one of what is by now several million copies of an image of Jennifer Lawrence’s pussy.

It doesn’t take a Jungian to see that the excitement which greeted the iCloud disaster is the excitement of the chase, all over again. This time however, the hunt is not a race for self-definition-thru-success or even for the degenerate magic of branded celebrity talismans, but instead a hunt to reveal female celebrities as poor, impoverished flesh just like the rest of us. A hunt to prove that the prey is merely a commodity: one that is to be exploited, traded, used or saved as the owner sees fit.

One way of seeing the people who pant for celebrity nudes is as agents of reconnection, people who have bent the topmost tip of our culture’s tower of aspiration down to touch its base. That is, as agents who remodel popular culture into a morbid circle, where top-tier celebrities are involuntarily recycled into jerk-off material.

Personally, I think that their accomplishment is not so dire. Another way to see them is as accidental agents of the revelation—scandalous, still, in 2014 America—that successful women are comfortable with their bodies and enjoy masturbation. It is difficult to know whether these women’s success or their ease in their own skins generates the greater hatred.

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