Being an academic can be such a lonely job. Everyone is specialising in something so obscure, no one else around them knows anything about it (or cares about it enough) to talk to. The students mostly are interested in getting through it and finding a job afterwards (the good ones) or are great at partying (the bad ones). One outlet is social media, but then again, most of the time no-one even notices the ‘clever things’ that are said.
Imagine if suddenly you became famous! Imagine if every tweet got 5000 retweets and favs. If every blog post attracted dozens of comments, got circulated thousands of times and became the talk of the media worldwide.
Imagine if the phone kept ringing with requests to speak to the Washington Post, the London Times, the Economist. Imagine that every time you came out the door, you were surrounded by photo-journalists, and in every public appearance you were mobbed by adoring crowds. Just imagine!
Oh, fame can be such a burden… say the famous. Same as money, a burden, for the very wealthy.
Once you find yourself in this situation, you might get carried away a bit. The skill of speaking with confidence when teaching (even when not completely in command of the topic) can come in handy in interviews. Yet, the fame, the need to appear confident, the need to seem that you know what you are doing can feed a monster.
The monster is arrogance, the danger is mistakes, the result is hybris.
Professor Varoufakis has achieved what we do not dare dream of as academics. He has achieved extraordinary fame. Yet, upon achieving it he became lost. The author of the Global Minotaur is now walking his own maze. Who has Varoufakis become and what does he seek to achieve? Is he still an academic? Has be become a politician? If he is a politician, what is he trying to accomplish? Or is he just fond of seeing himself on TV and on covers of magazines? If it is the latter, how horrible will it be when the fame passes and the world moves on.
Is it better to have been famous and forgotten, or to never have been famous at all?