Lord Black of Crossharbour (alias Conrad Black) is back in the slammer after the judge tossed out his appeal. What a loser. Oh! excuse me – he’s a kazillionaire. How could I (yawn) forget?
Meanwhile, live! on stage in London, Jerry Seinfeld isn’t doing too badly either. He would be the expert on “losers”, that klatch of misfits who for nine years obsessed over the minutiae of their lives. Boy, do we ever miss them – Jerry, Kramer, Elaine and George.
And we don’t care much if the Black Baron ever sees the light of day.
Something’s wrong with this picture. Lord Bogmire and his business empire are massive success stories. Conditioned as we are to achieve such success, our hearts are often with the losers.
We still like to act surprised at the success of Seinfeld – “a show about nothing” – even though we’ve had 20 years to make sense of it. With Jerry back on stage, reviewers are exploring the irony yet again. Colin Horgan of the Guardian newspaper:
“While the rest of TV was showing us what we wanted to be, Seinfeld was instead showing us what we are: individualistic, narcissistic and…etc.”
Yup, the ugly facts of life and the human condition are a magnet. Horgan goes on:
“People used to compare their lives favourably with characters from other sitcoms… but comparing yourself to George Costanza was just kind of depressing. Nobody particularly wanted to be the Seinfeld crew. And yet…”
And yet we can’t not watch. So depressed we can’t take our eyes off them. After all, Costanza is perhaps but one more disillusionment away from hitting bottom, of declaring, “My whole life is a sham!” Actually, he said that already.
Freedom, American style, has done little for George. It would seem that the world has “whipped him with its displeasure”. (Thank you, Ralph Waldo Emerson.)
Conrad Black might be thinking the same thing about now.
Amazing that the same freedoms that breed a Conrad Black also breed a George Costanza. But who touches us most deeply? It would seem that “the last shall be first” in our hearts. There is indeed something strangely compelling about the exploits of failure. Even Gen. George S. Patton saw the value in crashing and burning:
“I don’t measure a man’s success with how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom.”
That Seinfeld’s characters are made of rubber isn’t the point. The point is that their disasters never force them to the point of conforming to society. They are incorrigibly original. R.W. Emerson would say that they “insist on themselves.” It’s a rare grace.
Never mind that Costanza would say he’d sell his soul to be like normal people, his uniqueness won’t allow it. His inimitability is almost sacred. He has nothing – no job, no girlfriend, no height, no hair, no timing, no clue – it’s situation perfect. Says George, “But, but…I’m disturbed, I’m depressed, I’m inadequate: I got it all.”
He and the rest of that blessedly motley crew exist on the verge of no hope. Next stop –freedom. Of the eternal variety.
And we know this! Which is why we can’t take our eyes off them.
And why, in my imagination, Lord Quagmire is sitting there in his cell studying Seinfeld reruns for what it might take to be such a beloved loser.
In truth, Conrad Black has survived considerable failure in his own life as a courageous eccentric… and on a personal level we wish him all the best.