In Fifteen Minutes, Everyone Will Be Internet Famous

by flaunt

An Examination Of Kim Kardashian’s Cosmological Sovereignty, Meditations On The Six Deviations Of Fame, And A Symbolic Legend To Help You Find Your Way (Because We Are A Deeply Superficial Magazine)
THE TAO OF KIM The paradoxical intercourse of audience and celebrity. The suppressed awareness that the whole reason ordinary people found celebrity fascinating was that they were not, themselves, celebrities...The conflict between the subjective centrality of our own lives versus our awareness of its objective insignificance...This was the single great informing conflict of the American psyche. The management of insignificance. It was the great syncretic bond of U.S. monoculture. It was everywhere, at the root of everything—of impatience in long lines, of cheating on taxes, of movements in fashion and music and art, of marketing...It was the feeling that celebrities were your intimate friends, coupled with the inchoate awareness that untold millions of people felt the same way—and that the celebrities themselves did not. —David Foster Wallace, “The Suffering Channel”

THE STARS To claim that Kimberly Noel “Kim” Kardashian is a mere holographic persona manufactured by the producers and consumers (the distinction between the two becomes less and less clear) of pop culture would be a denial of her subjectivity, though to consider her a person like you or me would be antithetical to the underpinnings of her fame.

Born on October 21, 1980, in Los Angeles, California, Kim’s basic astrological chart reads as sun in Libra, moon in Pisces, Sagittarius ascendant, and Virgo in midheaven. According to this celestial configuration, Kim was destined to be charismatic, extroverted, and full of grace (Libra); dreamy, slightly detached from reality, and endowed with an odd sense of humor (Pisces); ambitious, independent, and idealistic (Sagittarius); and business-savvy, detail-oriented, and discerning (Virgo).

A bundle of contradictions that somehow coalesce into complements, Kim, now thirty-three years young, is billed as “television personality, fashion designer, model, actress, businesswoman.” She has been married and divorced twice, and is currently married to hip-hop artist Kanye West, the father of her daughter, North. It’s been seven years since her infamous sex tape was leaked to the press; her reality show, the aptly titled Keeping Up with the Kardashians, is in its ninth season.    Her every stylistic choice is poked and prodded by high-end fashion rags and tabloids alike—“Kim Kardashian’s Fake Audrey Hepburn-Like Bangs—Love or Loathe?” “Kim Kardashian Rocks Sheer Shirt & Leather Skirt: Fierce or Frumpy?” “Kim Kardashian’s Met Costume Institute Gala Gown—Nailed It or Failed It?”—inviting the American public to vote on the material minutiae of her daily existence with titles that sound more like Berenstain Bears-style morality lessons. Like an overbearing grandmother, the media offers Kim pointed suggestions: what music to work out to in preparation for her wedding, how she should style her hair, which colors, cuts, and textures suit her body best. And her body, of course, seems to draw the most polarized commentary.

In this sense, there is nothing new about Kim Kardashian. The simultaneous exoticization and degradation of a voluptuous female form is old hat, and the subject’s participation on both sides of the coin is also symptomatic of a widespread cultural confusion over what it means to be a woman deserving of attention. To generate dozens of half-nude Instagram and Twitter selfies while also decrying cruel media coverage of one’s pregnancy is not necessarily unreasonable; rather, it reflects a kind of classic American schizoid-capitalist approach to currency and value—I name the time, the place, the terms, the price (Virgo).

THE MOON There are few phases of a woman’s life that garner more unabashed critique than pregnancy. North West was born on June 15, 2013, under a waxing crescent moon in Virgo (ensuring a particularly assertive personality). Shortly thereafter, People posted a lengthy installment entitled “Kim Kardashian Gives Birth: Timeline of the Reality Starlet’s Pregnancy Dramas.” The article elaborated (in the most superficial way possible) upon Kim’s morning sickness, food cravings, red carpet appearances, exercise regimen, run-ins with paparazzi, and the unfathomable height of her stilettos. Most news outlets honed in on her weight—how much did she gain, and where, and what was she going to do about it? Just five months after the “Timeline” reached its zenith, Kim gave an interview to People on her “struggle” with postnatal dieting, stating that she felt more motivated to “tune out the media” after enduring such intense scrutiny during her pregnancy. According to the language of the zodiac, Kim would do best to implement her strategy for tuning out the media on the gibbous moon, the ideal phase for adjusting and refining one’s intentions.

GRAVITY The co-creation of fantasy occurs between the celebrity and the people, between the image and the eye. Those who accuse Kim of “fame-whoring” neglect to recognize that in the very act of posting publicly on the subject of any Kardashian is to participate in Kim’s continued visibility. From haters to followers to passive checkout-line tabloid skimmers, it takes a globalized village to make the mythology of Kim possible. Her ambition counts for a mere fraction of her success [but it still counts (Sagittarius)]. The American public collaborates, consciously and unconsciously, on piecing together characters to love and to hate, to praise and to revile, to feel at once inferior and superior to. We feel safer and more justified in lambasting those who seem to have it all (thus making them undeserving of compassion or sympathy) and yet lacking in something essentially human, something relatable. In the April 2014 issue of Vogue,     Kim enthusiastically describes a luxuriously domestic life with North and Kanye, and it does seem as though each statement is an earnest attempt at mimicking normalcy. Like missives from within a snow globe, Kim’s commentary on love and motherhood sends one into a sort of technicolor delirium: “I take pictures of her [North] all the time and dress her up...I put Kanye’s big chains around her, and I put a little Louis bag and some Jordans, and I was like, ‘What up, Daddy?’” (Pisces). She describes taking long drives with Kanye, punctuated by night sky-gazing and fast food. To hear her tell it, life is an artful assembly of joy and pleasure, height and speed, tenderness and comfort. One assumes Kim also suffers in the most basic yet most profound sense (Is my life meaningful, what is my work in the world?), but this is the kind of fundamental human suffering that we would like to deny her. We’d like to reduce her suffering to the trivial, and Kim (being an astute businesswoman) perceives this demand and delivers (Libra).

THE SUN The trials and travails of “the girl who has it all” are a condition of her fame as we the audience have defined it. She must be subjected to the standard degree of relentless difficulty and hardship, if not in real life than at least on the glossy page, the social media feed, the television screen. The abundance of light that surrounds her is simply too much, and the twin desire for and bitter rejection of abundance is characteristic of our particular cultural, social, and spiritual moment.

In Hinduism, abundance is celebrated through worship of the goddess Lakshmi, deity of wealth, prosperity, and beauty. Lakshmi emerged from the sea after it had been churned ferociously; her brother is the moon. She is called upon daily, though October is her designated month, and she presides over sixteen categories of “worldly wealth”: fame, knowledge, courage and strength, victory, good children, valor, gold and gems, grains, happiness, bliss, intelligence, beauty, high aim, high thinking and high meditation, morality and ethics, good health, long life.

Hindu or not, we bow to one or two or three or six of these ideals, and we consequently develop a sense of intimacy and understanding around those who seem to embody them, though the projections and assumptions will always be our own, reflecting and refracting, fragmenting and fracturing. We do not deliver lotus flowers, sandalwood, betel leaves, rice, and coconut to our Hollywood royalty, yet our posts, comments, and tweets are missives themselves—not from the interior of a marshmallow planet or a tulle-lined bomb shelter, but from the grit of our own banal lives, crowded by commutes, lists, bills, and existential anxiety. Kim (and other entertainment entrepreneurs like her) deals in the exploitation of our desire. Though the question remains: What is it that we want from her? And what, in turn, does she want from us?

EARTH On the occasion of Kim’s first Mother’s Day, Kanye West gifted his then-fiancée with a “flower wall,” a three-dimensional square of roses, peonies, and hydrangeas. One imagines the wall of flora is more sensually pleasing in person; in photographs it could easily be mistaken for an enormous block of insulation. And yet, this mass of petals and buds also brings to mind the gardens of Versailles, over which Marie Antoinette presided for nearly twenty years before being driven out and away, due in large part to scathing and pervasive gossip.

Born November 2, 1755, Marie’s birth chart reads as sun in Scorpio, moon in Libra, Cancer ascending, midheaven in Pisces. She was executed by guillotine on October 16, three days before the full moon, and buried on January 21, four days before the subsequent full moon. According to the Farmers’ Almanac, the days and nights shortly before the moon reaches its peak are “particularly wet, and best for planting.” This is to say that Marie’s thirty-seven-year-old body was laid down in the earth at a fine time, at a point where the soil was sure to absorb her entirely.

What the flower wall and the gardens and the 18th-century rumor mill and the guillotine and the moon phases remind us of is this: There have always been periods of delusion and ignorance, millions of attempts to pin a collective distress, a national unraveling, on the most visible target, and reality television makes this an easy project—we’ve homegrown our own giggly batch of flawed figureheads. Our gods and goddesses, queens and kings, starlets and studs: always looking up, up, craning our necks to get a good look at what it is we’ve created so that we have something to aspire to but also something to annihilate, something to ridicule but also something to covet—thing being the essential term, because there’s no one there. There remains only the mosaic piece, only the collage, the outline of
a pseudo-person that we eagerly fill in with our own robust lack. And what is it to live there—there where there is no one but you, the you who doesn’t quite matter anymore, as long as your it sells?

MORPHOLOGY According to North’s original due date, Kim and Kanye conceived on or around October 28, about a week after Kim’s thirty-second birthday, under a waxing gibbous moon in Aries. The waxing moon, not surprisingly, represents conception, fertility, and creation. The waxing moon then moves into the full moon phase, which lasts for approximately three days, and resides within the realm of feminine energy and emotion. Lunar folklore recommends slaughtering livestock on the full moon to ensure juicier meat.

On Kim’s twenty-fifth birthday, four days following the full moon and three days before its descent into the last quarter, the first official photographs of the planet Eris were taken by NASA. The planet (roughly the size of Pluto), is named for the Greek goddess of chaos, strife, and discord. “At first small and insignificant, soon she raises her head up to heaven.” As myth goes, when Eris was not invited to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, she made her point by hurling a golden apple (immortality, youth) into the middle of the ceremony. The apple, which Eris had inscribed with the words: ΤΗΙ ΚΑΛΛΙΣΤΗΙ (for the most beautiful) is said to have borne the seed of the Trojan War.

HEAVEN On Sunday, January 12, 2014, Kim posted a photograph of herself and Kanye posing serenely against a winter wonderland backdrop: creamy white flowers and stark white branches, a powdery path leading through a canopy of crystalline fauna to a small empty table draped in white cloth. “Heaven,” she wrote.

On Saturday, January 12, 1917, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the Transcendental Meditation movement, was born in Madhya Pradesh, India (sun in Capricorn, moon in Virgo). In 1967, Maharishi stated: “Being happy is of the utmost importance. Success in anything is through happiness. Under all circumstances be happy...Within everyone is an unlimited reservoir of energy, intelligence, and happiness.” In the decades following, the Maharishi was harshly criticized for his apparent materialistic indulgence, his business savvy, and his association with the rich and famous. On his ninetieth birthday in 2008, three weeks before he left his physical body, the Maharishi declared: “Live long the world in peace, happiness, prosperity, and freedom from suffering.” In other words: Heaven.

Q: Kim—excuse me—do you prefer Kimberley, Kim, Kim K., Kimye, or simply K? Q: Kim, my father said he heard from some people who met you in an airport once that you were very gracious, sweet, and friendly, even while there were no cameras or photographers around. Confirm or deny? Q: Kim, a friend of mine was delivered by the same doctor who delivered you. Do you remember your birth? Q: Kim, my mother has expressed distaste over the way you dress. I know how it feels to be the object of her distaste, and I sympathize. Q: Kim, do you believe in god?