art by nacrowe
i think for the public it can be difficult to witness public figures evolve over time, partly because their celebrity is some much a function of our collective mass projection. we see in them what we attribute to our better selves. if they change, what does that say about what we saw in them and by extension, what does that say about ourselves?
ADAM YAUCH of THE BEASTIE BOYS, much like ALDOUS HUXLEY, was a western public figure that explored eastern philosophies, namely MAHAYANA BUDDHISM. this fascination turned into a lifelong passion that redirected his life's trajectory in terms of his personal moral code, philanthropy, advocacy work and even his personal life.
his life is still interesting to me years after his death in 2012 from parotid cancer. this is in part because he seemed effortlessly authentic. you can listen to both the sexist attention-grabbing brat in "brass monkey" (licensed to ill, 1986) and the more thoughtful, reflective global musings on "bodhisattva vow" (ill communication, 1994) and come away with the full moral trajectory of a man and his evolution as a human being.
and i think that took courage. courage to counter your public image through action.
in our modern insatiably-manic digital click-bait culture where everyone has quick opinions and every discernible action seems to be part of a wider premeditated strategy with a future payoff in mind, it is hard to recognize humanity when we see it. it is hard to get past our jadedness. especially with public figures.
i dont see the life of ADAM YAUCH as something distinct and sanctified, this isnt a hagiography. i see him as a flawed human (like all of us are) that followed his path and used his platform to promote good will as he saw it and did what he could.
my hope is that i can see the same in others and not be so quick to question their motives, as i do whenever i hear of angelina jolie's UNICEF work or kanye giving his gaudy shoes to kids in uganda.
its a struggle. im working on it.