Fandom and fanaticism play an enormous role in modern culture. Psychologists have analyzed the nature of fanaticism; however, this project approaches the question why people devote their lives to a popular artist such as Elvis from a philosophical standpoint. Fan and fanatic are not the same. In his essay “Unpacking My Library,” Walter Benjamin describes the book collector’s passion to preserve an object’s past; however, he explicates that it is not the object’s past that one actually preserves. According to Benjamin, book collectors give distinctive meaning to their books because they live in them. In Matter and Memory, Henri Bergson defines the dreamer as someone who lives in the past because he or she finds it more pleasurable than the present. The dreamer is driven by his or her recollections of the past without them having any advantage for the present life. Benjamin’s collector and Bergson’s dreamer share the desires of the fan and the fanatic. The passionate Elvis fan, which I call the “Benjaminian collector,” pays homage to Elvis as an attempt to preserve the past and his or her memories of it. On the other hand, the fanatic has left the real world and has become what I call the “Bergsonian dreamer,” who longs for an unrepeatable past and forces his memories to remain present. His or her obsession is to search for an identity, which he or she tries to find in somebody else’s life and identity such Elvis.
|Keywords:||Fandom, Fanaticism, Modern, Nostalgia, Elvis, Collecting, Memorabilia, Bergson, Benjamin|
Ph.D. Student, English Department, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, USA
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