The Crack-Up, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Public breakdowns are par for the course these days; on any given day, any given celebrity seems to find solace in the seemingly cathartic act of a public confession, as if the reading/viewing/listening/tweeting public serve as some kind of unwitting participant in absolving said person of their unsuccessful dealings with fame. But long before Britney, one of America’s most celebrated authors dealt with the pressures of fame in a most public forum, penning a classic, 3-part self-analysis, first published in the pages of Esquire back in 1936. F. Scott Fitzerald writes:
Of course all life is a process of breaking down, but the blows that do the dramatic side of the work — the big sudden blows that come, or seem to come, from outside — the ones you remember and blame things on and, in moments of weakness, tell your friends about, don’t show their effect all at once. There is another sort of blow that comes from within — that you don’t feel until it’s too late to do anything about it, until you realize with finality that in some regard you will never be as good a man again. The first sort of breakage seems to happen quick — the second kind happens almost without your knowing it but is realized suddenly indeed.
Before I go on with this short history, let me make a general observation — the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise. This philosophy fitted on to my early adult life, when I saw the improbable, the implausible, often the “impossible,” come true. Life was something you dominated if you were any good. Life yielded easily to intelligence and effort, or to what proportion could be mustered of both. It seemed a romantic business to be a successful literary man — you were not ever going to be as famous as a movie star but what note you had was probably longer-lived; you were never going to have the power of a man of strong political or religious convictions but you were certainly more independent. Of course within the practice of your trade you were forever unsatisfied — but I, for one, would not have chosen any other.
Read the full analysis in Esquire …
http://www.esquire.com/features/the-crack-up

Public breakdowns are par for the course these days; on any given day, any given celebrity seems to find solace in the seemingly cathartic act of a public confession, as if the reading/viewing/listening/tweeting public serve as some kind of unwitting participant in absolving said person of their unsuccessful dealings with fame. But long before Britney, one of America’s most celebrated authors dealt with the pressures of fame in a most public forum, penning a classic, 3-part self-analysis, first published in the pages of Esquire back in 1936. F. Scott Fitzgerald writes:

Of course all life is a process of breaking down, but the blows that do the dramatic side of the work — the big sudden blows that come, or seem to come, from outside — the ones you remember and blame things on and, in moments of weakness, tell your friends about, don’t show their effect all at once. There is another sort of blow that comes from within — that you don’t feel until it’s too late to do anything about it, until you realize with finality that in some regard you will never be as good a man again. The first sort of breakage seems to happen quick — the second kind happens almost without your knowing it but is realized suddenly indeed.

Before I go on with this short history, let me make a general observation — the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise. This philosophy fitted on to my early adult life, when I saw the improbable, the implausible, often the “impossible,” come true. Life was something you dominated if you were any good. Life yielded easily to intelligence and effort, or to what proportion could be mustered of both. It seemed a romantic business to be a successful literary man — you were not ever going to be as famous as a movie star but what note you had was probably longer-lived; you were never going to have the power of a man of strong political or religious convictions but you were certainly more independent. Of course within the practice of your trade you were forever unsatisfied — but I, for one, would not have chosen any other.

Read the full analysis in Esquire

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