On Saturday camenews that John Lennon’s toilet sold for £9,500.I was never much of a John Lennon fan and even less of one when he hooked up with Yoko Ono. The toilet belonged to the late Beatle when he lived in Berkshire from 1969 to 1972. Since Lennon married Yoko in March 1969, the potty was probably hers, too. In any case, the Lennon-Ono potty went at auction in Liverpool for the U.S. equivalent of $14,742.00 dollars.
Don’t know why that particular news item caught my attention. Maybe, it’s because the cult of celebrity has never been my thing. It’s inexplicable that someone would actually want a celebrity’s used toilet as a keepsake.
Among the things most worthy of disrespect, I think the culture of celebrity has to be near the top. Historian Daniel J. Boorstin was right when he wrote in The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events, of a person celebrated as someone who is “well-known for his well-knownness.”
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty.”
But Lennon’s toilet, which evoked almost $15,000 of a buyer’s inspiration would hardly have inspired “a flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme“ as did the vessel whose Greek etchings gave the Romantic poet such inspiration in “Ode On A Grecian Urn.”
“When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st,
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,”—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”
Admittedly, the toilet is the human condition’s common denominator, its last equalizer, making no distinctions of status whether saint or sinner; rich or poor; weak or powerful; famous or unknown. So why would anyone want John Lennon’s business end memento?
40 years from now, assuming anyone remembers, will someone pay good money for a toilet used by actress Megan Fox ? She is infamously remembered for supposedly saying, “I’m horrible to live with. I don’t clean. My clothes end up wherever I take them off. I forget to flush the toilet.”
I don’t hold out much hope for improved cultural enlightenment in 2050. Just 5 years ago, USA Today ran stories entitled The sweet smell of excess and Nothing too icky to sell, which featured some of the celebrity oddities then up for auction, including Britney Spears’ used chewing gum. Then in Las Vegas this past June, Marilyn Monroe’s chest x-ray from 1954 sold for $45,000. And this coming October, celebrity-philes will be lining up in Macau to bid on a Marilyn Monroe Bra and Elvis Presley’s hair. Perhaps the Apocalypse does draw nigh.