Why Be Noticed?

Dear friend,

A philosophical question — why be noticed?

So this is my thinking:

  1. In modern (American) society, essentially everyone wants to become famous. We see fame as the apex of “success” in American society. In photography, I would actually say that we (photographers) don’t really desire money or power. Rather, we desire influence, to be ‘recognized’, to be respected for our photography, and for us to be famous as photographers!
  2. In order to be famous, you must be recognized/noticed.
  3. A random thing I learned: the word ‘notorious’ means for your name to be known. In modern times to be ‘notorious’ is generally seen as a bad thing– but ‘notus‘ (Latin) is what we generally desire.

So to sum up,

We want to be noticed, because if we get noticed, it means that our name is of worth, and it validates that we are famous.

This is the problem of being noticed or ‘notorious’:

You are dependent on others whether you’re noticed or not.

Which means, you become a slave to the opinion of others. Because you cannot control whether others know or respect you. More robust is instead:

Do you admire yourself?

This is better, because you have 100% control whether you admire yourself or not. And you can also teach yourself to respect yourself through philosophical inquiry and Stoic training.

Eric kim minimalism

This is actually the irony — when we are unknown and unnoticed, we desire to be noticed. But once we get noticed and famous– it becomes a huge pain!

Apparently Kobe Bryant went to Din Tai Fung the other day for some dumplings in the South Coast Plaza Mall. He was swarmed with fans, wanting selfies with him, or his autograph. Now this is nice, but the problem is this:

Kobe Bryant can no longer live unnoticed, and he cannot live a nice “normal” life with his family. He cannot even walk in a public space without getting mobbed by fans.

And consider all the super super rich and famous; they can no longer enjoy their own privacy! Every small tiny detail of their lives become public scrutiny. Even my best friend Gerald Butler (King Leonidas of the movie 300) gained a bunch of body fat (after his insanely ripped body for the film 300). All these TMZ photos revealed his body fat– imagine how shitty that made Gerald feel!

Cindy minimalism

Go unnoticed

I thought Leica’s new tag line for their Leica M10-P was “go unnoticed” was brilliant, but ironic.

This is the irony:

Many people buy a Leica camera for the red dot, to show off they have a Leica (just like how someone wants to show off with a Louis Vuitton bag, with lots of LV logos).

Yet, it’s also cool to have a super stealth Leica, with NO red dot. It’s like the Sneetches from Dr. Seuss:

It was cool to have a star on your belly (at first), then later it became cool to NOT have a star on your belly.

Veblen goods


There’s a concept of a “Veblen good“; a luxury item in which we value it more, because it’s more expensive!

But this is the interesting thing about human sociology:

The truly rich are pretty low-key. They prefer expensive fabrics which DON’T have brand names on them. They actually live mostly modest lives, and enjoy their luxury goods in private.

So as a general takeaway, consider:

When in doubt, better to go unnoticed.

Go unnoticed for your stuff, but be noticed for your good deeds, the good artwork you make, and your visual art!


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