Post by kerouac2 on Mar 19, 2019 12:59:54 GMT
On the radio today, there was an interesting philosophical programme about the definition of success and its evil twin happiness.
The subject of the composer Giacomo Meyerbeer (real name Jakob Liebmann Meyer Beer) came up. He was the most successful composer of his time -- more popular and played more often throughout the 19th century than Mozart, Verdi or Wagner. His name is one of the ones you can read on the front of the Paris opera. His funeral in Paris was as grandiose as those of Victor Hugo or Charles de Gaulle, with hundreds of thousands of mourners in attendance. And yet he was as good as forgotten by the beginning of the 20th century and things have gone downhill from there. His music is never played, there is one minor street named after him in Paris and a small bust in the Opera. So was he successful? Undoubtedly he was, as long as he was alive.
In contrast, we can look at Vincent Van Gogh, for example, who died unknown in total poverty after a completely miserable life. And yet look at him now. Successful? Were either of these people happy in their lives? Look at all of the successful superstars who committed suicide or abused their health until they died.
But after discussing famous people, the philosopher went on to talk about ordinary people. In our own families, there are people we look up to and people we ignore. We often sweep away the memory of people whom we loved but never forget people who tormented us. We have favourite parents or grandparents and others who didn't matter as much. Does that mean that the "good" ones were successful? Even if they were not happy?
It's kind of difficult to end a programme on such a subject when the whole thing lasts only an hour, but in the end it was decided that the happiness of the moment is what we should concentrate on. If nobody remembers us once we're gone, does it really matter? And if they do talk or think about us, maybe we will hear them, wherever we are. I still talk to my grandmother often, when I am preparing food in the kitchen, and she has been dead for 27 years. I'm probably the only living person who still thinks about her. Was she successful?