THE BLOG
12/05/2014 03:05 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

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There's an inner circle that hangs over all our lives, an inner sanctum to which we will never gain admittance. Of course the oedipal chamber, where the primal scene is enacted is the inner circle which all children are excluded from. But in reality we all are like commuters who live in the suburbs of some imagined world of larger than life beings whose mythologies throw a shadow over our existence. No matter how far up the ladder, no matter how high up on the great chain of being, there's always someone there before us whose exploits out shadow anything we can accomplish. "For fools rush in where angels fear to tread," is Alexander Pope's famous line, but the fool in question is likely to be coming late to the party. Writers wistfully recall the antics of the Algonquin Round table. No matter how many steroids they take few baseball players can't compete with legends like Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth. No matter what their pedigree politicians never seem to have the charisma of Roosevelt or de Gaulle, nor the glamour of Kennedy whose White House was referred to as Camelot. American directors don't make films like John Ford, Preston Sturges and Howard Hawks and despite being the highest paid athlete in sports today, can we really put Floyd Mayweather. Jr. in the class Joe Louis, George Foreman or Mohammed Ali? Are JZ and Beyonce, perhaps the hottest team in popular music, any competition for the Beatles or The Stones (who are still going strong)? And how do the De Niros, Pacinos, the Streeps and Jolies of today really crock up to the Clark Gables , Jimmy Stewarts, Cary Grants, Barbara Stanwycks, Katherine Hepburns and Betty Davises of the past? No matter how hard we try, we're all bridge and tunnel. We're all by definition standing on the shoulders of giants.

{This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture}