If Karl Marx and Ayn Rand are the Gods of Economics (to whom we sacrifice George Osborne at dawn tomorrow), who else is in the pantheon? I get the feeling Marilyn Monroe and Elvis ought to be in there somewhere. Who should be in the 19th/20th century pantheon of gods and goddesses, and what portfolios should each of them have?
I sometimes wonder if a term like "god[dess]" even fits today's allegedly skeptical, rational, empirical mindset. Then I remember most of the people inhabiting this world are anything but skeptical, rational, empirical, etc. and questions like this don't seem absurd anymore.
I always felt we put people on pedestals out of the deluded notion that there had to be something up there. I'm reminded of the otherwise unexceptional Richard Pryor movie Brewster's Millions, where Pryor's character has to blow a ton of money in thirty days to get an even bigger inheritance, and one of the things he throws some dough at is a bogus campaign where he isn't even actually running for office. The candidate on the ballot is "None of the Above". I would have killed to see a movie that explored that idea more thoroughly -- especially with someone as compulsively iconoclastic as Pryor in the lead.
People seem subtly uncomfortable with the idea that there is no one upstairs, and I suspect that comes straight out of the way our primate ancestors organized spontaneous hierarchies to keep from being eaten by lions on the Serengeti. Somebody, for whatever reason -- experience, sheer luck, some combination of both -- was better at whipping the rest of the pack up into the needed frenzy, and so he got the top slot until someone else came along as King of the Hill.
But a few million years later, here we are, still deeply uncomfortable with the idea that when you get down to it, we're the only ones in charge of our lives. We love the idea that there's someone on a dais somewhere who can tell us what's what, who can embody an example to follow and provide a rallying point for those otherwise divided amongst themselves. We love any idea that tells us we can find the answers to everything we're looking for somewhere outside ourselves -- in this person here, or that dogma there, or these cultural trappings over yonder. And the fact that the goods are never actually delivered hasn't deterred us one whit.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind