Stephen Fry is a man I would do almost anything for. He privileges wit as an art form, he believes in charity as a good in and of itself, and most importantly, he’s a big Norwich FC supporter. Fry also understands the power and value of the internet; he has been on a wild ride of online celebrity these last few years, for good or ill — more than two million twitter followers can attest to this. As I have slowly come to grips with a rapidly changing world of social media, Fry’s grace and style have been an inspiration.
That is why, when Fry posted a short conversation online last January, I gave him my wrapt attention. The piece was his own tempting slab of pop philosophy, broken down into easily digestible chunks. He had me hooked. I still watch the video from time to time, whenever my routine seems to be burgeoning on the dismal and I need to inject some positive outlook into my early morning. He has a lot to say about the restrictive nature of hard line goals, and he goes on in great detail about the value of expanding your horizons; but what struck me as his strangest and most brilliant point was his argument for a “shameless” devotion to heroes.
According to Fry, heroes are the grand symbols that keep our minds fixated on the prospect of our own education — a primarily social process, as he sees it. There is a great deal of anitpathy towards the idea of the hero in our contemporary world. The recent election in the United States is a strong example of this anti-heroic attitude: a great deal of delight hid behind the skepticism of the punditocracy leading up to President Obama’s re-election. Fry’s thoughts on the importance of totemic figures, individuals who capture and colour our outlook on the world, is a tonic to such cynicism.
On the eve of a new blog, I therefore find it fitting to compose my next month’s entries on some of my own heroes. I hope you will indulge me with your own totems of humanity in the comments section below.