Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

24 December 2018

Perhaps This Ride Will Bring Him Back

In A Movable Feast, published several years after his death, Ernest Hemingway says this about F. Scott Fitzgerald:

His talent was as natural as the pattern that was made by the dust on a butterfly's wings.  At one time he understood it no more than the butterfly did and he did not know when it was brushed or marred.  Later he became conscious of his damaged wings and of their construction and he learned how to think and could not fly any more because the love of flight was gone and he could only remember when it had been effortless.

Now, I know Fitzgerald and Hemingway only through what they wrote and, to a lesser degree, what has been written (and said) about them.  I suspect, though, that Hemingway pegged the author of The Great Gatsby.  Well, almost.  I get the feeling that, if anything, Fitzgerald became conscious of his celebrity and what it entailed, and tried to live up (or down, depending on your point of view) to it.  Plus--now, I know someone is going to accuse me of sexism for saying this--he was trying to please a woman who couldn't be pleased.

(Remember, I am transgender, having lived more than four decades in one gender other than the one I live now.  So, while I may not be unbiased, I think I am justified in, or at least can rationalize, a somewhat jaundiced view of both men and women.)

That amended version, I think, can also apply to Kanye West.  There was a time when I thought he was going to become a sort of male version of Lauryn Hill--a "voice of a generation" that would rise out of the scars of his life.  She released a watershed album two decades ago and has barely been heard from since.  He, on the other hand, released an album that seemed to augur, in a similar way, a new vision--and went in the exact opposite direction from Ms. Hill, to the point that his celebrity seems to be a parody.

I really, really was a fan of his when he released College Dropout and subsequent albums Late Registration and Graduation. Like Hill, he seemed to exhibit a self-awareness that seemed almost of a piece with his awareness of the world around him.  And like her, he had talents that served as near-perfect vehicles for that awareness.

Then he became a celebrity.  And he married a Kardashian.  Well, you know the rest.

Still, I must say, there are moments when I remember the Kanye I liked so much.  One such moment came when someone sent me this video from Twitter of Kanye riding a bicycle:

OK, the emphasis is on riding.  Someone else is doing the pedaling.  He says he was in San Francisco.  Wherever he was, he seemed to be having an un-selfconscious good time.

It gives me hope that perhaps he will become a musician and performer--and not merely a celebrity--again.

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