In a congregation of oddities, a group, consumed in the seductive embrace of success, gathered for a rather queer objective. To eulogize the lone soul in their coterie, one that had doomingly succumbed at the sharp jaws of failure.
The Brotherhood of the Successfuls were surprised that nobody suspected that the eulogy was a covert attempt at adding to their vast ego, by vulturing on the remains of the exception. This practice had been invented somewhere along the long arm of Time and was widely regarded as an instant means for self-gratification. The Brotherhood smiled, imagining the damnation that was forthcoming. Flunky took his place in the center of a circular maze of chairs. The circle was thought to be the most useful formation for such ceremonies. The arena soon buzzed with eager beavers, gleefully awaiting the gladiatorial contest. Flunky seemed uncannily calm.
Such ceremonies presented the enthusiastic with a potent weapon for heartfelt outpouring, History. Each member of the elite Brotherhood took turns recounting their success stories. From the glitterati came a famous writer, a painter, politicians, businessmen, musicians, management consultants, investment bankers et al, in a circular ebb and flow of unbridled glory.
A group consisting of arm-chair experts from various arenas, often armed with an impressive array of academic arcana, seemed the most vociferous. Each maven was widely regarded as the foremost thought leader in his/her area. Scores flocked to snatch every word making its way into the world from the abyss of their gifted trachea. Formalities dispensed with, the Brotherhood turned their attention to Flunky. Many provided a moving, eloquent ode to Flunky’s many failures. How he tried things that nobody else wished to, how he eschewed commonly accepted principles, how his attempts at reshaping a tiny corner of the world with his strange ideas were laughable…how they all inadvertently led around in circles.
Flunky soon lost track of the drumroll. Sandwiched amid this exceptional group, he listened quietly, even making a genuine attempt at faking admiration. Almost everyone in the group welcomed his genuineness, correctly interpreting it for awe. The parasiting orgy left many in the Brotherhood in a state of untold bliss. In battles between Humility and Hubris, the latter generally obliterated the former. The Brotherhood added to the warehouse of empirical observations.
After what seemed like an eternity, Flunky rose to speak. He seemed to notice that almost every success was accompanied by a beautiful story. A birth in a trying environment seemed to be a common starting point. Many, in fact, seemed to have emerged like the Sphinx, from the bowels of extreme penury, or navigating a war-torn geography; often with loss of limb, even though all items of the anatomy seemed in perfect working order.
Flunky reminded the Brotherhood that Time gradually erased from collective memory the greatest of success stories. Few cared. Fame was a chimera, and sometimes reflected a parasitic dependence on the part of the Brotherhood, for continued sustenance. The Brotherhood were peering at the world through their tinted prism, where things diffracted into black and white. Shades of grey never entered the fray. It was entertaining to see mortals being judged through a narrowly defined tunnel vision, which the Brotherhood seemed to be rather generously endowed with.
Clinchingly, Flunky reminded the Brotherhood of the process of evolution. Through the passage of Time, the proportion of organisms that perished in the battle for survival (failure) vastly outnumbered the ones that ended up being alive (successful). In Nature, failure was the norm, success the exception. In every walk of societal life, humans admired those adhering to mainstream norms, often ringfencing and deriding the exceptions that ‘didn’t fit in’. If Flunky was a failure, he was simply adhering to evolutionary norm; consequently, he ought to be an object of admiration instead of being a butt of ridicule.
In a society swimming deep in the trappings of nomenclature, it didn’t pay to take oneself too seriously.
Socratic logic seldom worked, in general, but particularly when unleashed on a group deeply entrenched in self-created dogma. Low on humour, and high on pomposity – quite misplaced – the Brotherhood were unamused with Flunky’s rejoinder.
They drowned him in another round of verbal bashing, repeatedly highlighting his uselessness.
Those wrapped in the trappings of ‘success’ trumped those in the trappings of ‘failure’.