STEVE McQUEEN & The Power of Hubris
This photo of Steve McQueen is one of my favorites. It was taken in 1963 by McQueen’s friend, photographer William Claxton, who actually stood on the passenger seat snapping pictures as McQueen raced down LA’s Muholland Drive at 100 mph. I like this photo so much I had a 4 x 3 foot print made of it, which sits over my desk at home. It’s under the constant, unrelenting gaze of St. Steven here that I’ve written most of my blog posts, although more recently I’ve found myself just staring back it him, mind completely blank, praying he might offer some kind of inspiration.
Well, it seems like St. Steven was listening, because as I stared at at this picture it occurred to me I’ve never written about why I find him so admirable. Anyone who comes over to the house comments on the picture, but rarely do they ask why I’m a fan. I suppose they think it’s for the same reason everyone else does - handsome movie star/style icon/anti-hero with a taste for fast cars, fast motorcycles, and fast women.
The thing is, I like McQueen for something else altogether – his hubris. Webster defines hubris as “excessive arrogance” – a totally flaccid explanation which doesn’t really capture how awesomely descriptive the word truly is. Hubris actually comes from Greek tragedy – characters cursed by it possessed an excess of ambition or pride. They were out of touch with reality and overestimated their capabilities, which ultimately caused their ruin.
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