04 October 2010

On Reflection

Last night I watched Stephen Fry's televised performance filmed at the Sydney Opera House. He talked about his life, problems, successes, influences and motivations. Laughter and thoughtfulness.

I planned to post about author backlists, today. But instead I'm going to mention W H Auden and his poem "A Shilling Life".

In "A Shilling Life" Auden contrasts two friends: The awe-inspiring success (that we'd probably devalue by calling a "celebrity") and the stay-at-home. It is the latter who is content, the former who lives with unsatisfied desire.

Is Auden's conceit true? Do heroes struggle and happy people potter? Too simplistic. But this morning I'm still turning over in my mind the question of how society determines success, and how successful people use ambition and suffering.

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