One of the most distinctive cultural phenomena of recent years has been the rise and rise of fame. In this book, Mark Rowlands argues that our obsession with fame has transformed it. Fame was once associated with excellence or achievement in some or other field of endeavour. But today we are obsessed with something that is, in effect, quite different: fame unconnected with any discernible distinction, fame that allows a person to be famous simply for being famous. This book shows why this new fame is simultaneously fascinating and worthless. To understand this new form of fame, Rowlands maintains, we have to engage in an extensive philosophical excavation that takes us back to a dispute that began in ancient Greece between Plato and Protagoras, and was carried on in a remarkable philosophical experiment that began in eighteenth-century France. Somewhat like contestants on a reality TV show, today we find ourselves, unwittingly, playing out the consequences of this experiment.
1. Girls gone wild: fame and vfame 2. Footnotes to Plato 3. The Enlightenment project 4. Lightness and weight 5. From suicide bombers to Young Hot Hollywood 6. Paris Hilton and the end of history