Time Essay: The Perils of Celebrity

In his novel Humboldt's Gift, Saul Bellow described the onset of fame: "I experienced the high voltage of publicity. It was like picking up a dangerous wire fatal to ordinary folk. It was like the rattlesnakes handled by hillbillies in a state of religious exaltation." Some who grasp those charged serpents will themselves incandesce in celebrity for a little while and then wink out (goodbye, Clifford Irving; goodbye, Nina van Pallandt): defunct flashlights, dead fireflies. Thus they will have obeyed Warhol's Law, first propounded by Andy Warhol, the monsignor of transience and junk...

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