Last night I finally watched Baz Luhrman's The Great Gatsby. I say finally, because I tend to resist much hyped films, and also because in this case I had to overcome anti Baz Luhrmansim. While Australia was okay, Moulin Rouge and Romeo and Juliet are two of the worst films I have ever had to endure. In the case of Romeo and Juliet, I elected not to endure. However I digress. I liked The Great Gatsby even though I felt it was marred by excessive theatricality. The film is a tragic tale of obsession, and it got me thinking about how a person's thoughts can be dominated by a persistent idea, image or desire. And I wondered whether obsession could be a good thing, when typically it is perceived as a negative characteristic.
J. Gatsby was obsessed with a woman. Nothing new there. Men have been losing their heads over women, and vice-verca, since the Fall of Man. He built an empire via nefarious means all for the benefit of crowning the incarnation of his vision with the woman of his dreams. This one compulsion drove him through five years of struggle and intense loneliness. His ambition made him wealthy and famous, but did it deliver him the object of his obsession?
Is obsession the only way to success? In order to achieve your dreams, do you have to forego attention to everything else in order to completely focus on doing whatever it takes to get whatever it is that you want. Persistence, dedication and commitment are good qualities which the obsessed may have, but there is a tipping point. When ambition or even just excessive interest in a particular thing runs off the rails of rationality."Clinical psychologists think of obsessions as unhealthy fixations with objects, people, or activities. They are abnormal because they impair our capacity to love and work." Obsessions throw our lives out of whack. Obsession causes us to lose perspective, and to make decisions which provide instant gratification but may not be in the long term best interests of others or ourselves.
The word obsession is inextricably burdened by negative connotations, yet who could argue that the achievement of success, the realization of one's dreams, requires at least some degree of those qualities which are embodied by that very word.
What do you think? Is obsession a good or bad thing? When have you been obsessed? Personally, I am moderately obsessed with the acquisition of a vast number of devotees of my work. Thanks for reading and please leave a comment.