Does failure feel like grief?

Charles Cowling

milo yiannopoulos kernel editor


Posted by Richard Rawlinson

Not so long ago, The Independent’s left-wing young writer Johann Hari fell from being an award-winning media star when he was exposed as a self-promoting liar and cheat. The Economist was not convinced by his apology for plagiariasm

It’s now the turn of right-wing, young digital hack Milo Yiannopoulus. His mainstream profile may not be as high as Hari’s but he’s well-known in the blogosphere. Having cut his teeth at the Telegraph (and Catholic Herald), he went on to launch The Kernel, an online magazine about technology start-up companies, and was named one of the 100 most influential people in Britain’s digital economy by Wired.

His company has just declared bankruptcy. Yiannopoulus’s detractors, of which there are many as he has a pugilistic style (he even fell out with Stephen Fry on Twitter), are no doubt gloating. Here’s The Guardian last year.

For all the precocity of a Hari or Yiannopoulus, the latter starts his redeeming process with a persuasively repentant and reflective blog in which he wonders if failure might feel like grief.

Worth a read in my opinion, here

Finding words of comfort is tricky after a career crisis, relationship break-up or bereavement. You can say, ‘sorry to hear about your news. I sympathise at this difficult time’. But only with the career crisis can you say ‘you will come out of suffering stronger and better’ without meriting a slap across the face. Time may indeed heal, but grief is very different from self pity following injury to lifestyle, reputation, ego or bank account, self-inflicted or otherwise.

One thought on “Does failure feel like grief?

  1. Charles Cowling

    The fate of these young stars reminds me of something Scott Fitzgerald wrote about the nature of early success:

    ‘ The man who arrives young believes that he exercises his will because his star is shining. The man who only asserts himself at thirty has a balanced idea of what will-power and fate have each contributed, the one who gets there at forty is liable to put the emphasis on will alone. This comes out when the storms strike your craft.’

    He was a writer who found an extraordinary early fame at the start of the jazz age in America with his first novel ‘This side of paradise’ and it almost destroyed him.

    Youthful brilliance gets used to carrying all before it. Your star is shining: everything is justified. The realisation that you can fall – have fallen – and that you are as subject to the same sub-lunary laws as the rest of us must be a fearful realisation.

    In its own way it is an ejection from the garden, a loss of innocence and, while it may seem misplaced to those of us (more mediocre, less deceived) who look on I can imagine the sense of loss and share in the grief we all feel as we look back at the angel guarding the gate.

    Charles Cowling

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