The Winner Stands Alone

by Paulo Coelho | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0007306067 Global Overview for this book
Registered by keithpp of Farnborough, Hampshire United Kingdom on 4/7/2009
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by keithpp from Farnborough, Hampshire United Kingdom on Tuesday, April 7, 2009
One of the recurrent themes of my books is the importance of paying the price of your dreams. But to what extent can our dreams be manipulated? For the past decades, we lived in a culture that privileged fame, money, power – and most of the people were led to believe that these were the real values that we should pursue. -- Paulo Coelho

This is not a thriller, but a stark portrait of where we are now. -- Paulo Coelho

We live in a very sad world. A world where the only drivel people read is glossy magazines devoted to 'celebrities', where they watch utter garbage on TV, where they themselves yearn to be celebrities.

What are these 'celebrities'? People whose only name to fame is that they are a celebrity. They are generally of little talent, here today, gone tomorrow, to be replaced by the next celebrity. These non-entities are famous for being famous, nothing else.

We have the cult of the non-entity. People with no talent other than for being offensive get paid enormous sums for presenting TV programmes where they interview other non-entities, who in turn get paid vast sums for being 'celebrities'.

It was not always so. Once upon a time we would celebrate people of intellect and talent: Emile Zola, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, Ann Radcliffe, Leo Tolstoy, Hermann Hesse, Mozart, Bach, Vivaldi, Picasso, Dali, Newton, Einstein ...

There are people of talent today. The writer Paulo Coehlo, the beautiful and talented Russian artist Dasha Balashova, so why do we have this obsession with 'celebrities'?

In the summer I like to pay a visit to Brighton, wander around the old part, in particular North Laine, where there are still old shops retaining individuality and character. Then I like to wander down to the beach where this guy has a bookstall near the old derelict pier. He has a good selection of books, including good literature. What I have noticed is that the people browsing through the literature, and when you engage them in conversation know their literature, are nearly all female, usually in their twenties, and nearly always from Latin America or Eastern Europe.

There is thus hope yet.

People do have dreams, but it seems to be nearly always dreams planted in their minds by market manipulators. They have to have the latest mobile phone, the latest trainers, the latest fashion, listen to the latest banal pop that all sounds the same.

We all should be a 'winner'. Not in the sense of someone who finally wins what is important to his/her life. Not in the sense that happiness is the most valuable gift on Earth – and it can be attained here and now, when your work fulfills your heart. We should be a winner in the sense that the system portraits a successful person: celebrity, influence, photos in glossy magazines, behaving like the masters of the universe.

Yes, you may reach the goal society has fed you – but will you be satisfied? Will you be whole? Will you be in peace? This cycle of possession never ends – because the moment that you think that you have reached your goal another desire creeps in. And how can you find rest when it is the hunt that moves you?

While people are connected – omniscient thanks to their mobile phones and GPS – they all speak the same words, fight for the same goals, and crave the same things. How could it be otherwise? If fashion exists it is precisely because you can mold the desire of the masses – or how else could a bag, a dress impose itself as necessary?

In a world of invisible yet unsurpassable 'diktats', where a few puppeteers pull the strings of the many, instill in other people’s dreams the pursue of superficial things, there seems to be a rising feeling, a silent despair that creeps in.

Greed to have, greed to be seen, greed to prevail, even greed to kill, if you think it is for a good cause – like love, for example.

What we don't know is that, behind the scenes, the real manipulators remain anonymous. They understand that the most effective power is the one that nobody can notice – until it is too late, and you a trapped.

Paulo Coelho finished writing The Winner Stands Alone just as the financial markets started to collapse.

Soon after I finished writing The winner stands alone, the financial market collapsed. Will this lead us again to the real values? I really don’t know. What I do know is that we cannot continue to allow our dreams to be manipulated.

Maybe, just maybe, with the financial system collapsing, a system driven by greed and wanton consumerism, people will take stock and rethink their lives. Maybe like Santiago in The Alchemist, they will learn to follow their dreams, adapt real values, not follow the plastic dreams they have had manufactured for them.

If we are to dream, to follow our dreams like Santiago, it should be our own dreams, what makes us who we are, what gives us our individuality, what makes us human, not plastic dreams manufactured for us by global corporations and their puppet politicians.

Cannes International Film Festival is an annual film festival held in the south of France, the major film festival where everyone who is anyone has to be seen.

Cannes is where an unknown French teenager posed on the beach for a photographer. Brigette Bardot became an overnight success.

Cannes is where every starlet is a wannabe film star, where every budding director has the film script in his pocket, where every nobody wants to be a celebrity, wants to join the glitterati. They have seen their dreams in the glossy magazines, know it is who they want to be.

Cannes is a complete contrast to the BeyondTV International Film Festival held every year in Swansea in the south of Wales. No pretentious crap, just people wishing to show their work that other people wish to see. [see BeyondTV 2007]

Igor Malev, a Russian millionaire, owner of a Russian telecom company, believes money can buy everything, until he finds it cannot buy the one thing he wants most, his ex-wife. For all his wealth, Igor is a thug, he is quite willing to kill to get what he wants.

Igor Malev is in Cannes to make a statement, to send a message. Igor has promised to destroy whole worlds to get his wife back ... And Ivor always keeps his word.

The Winner Stands Alone is a world of excess and glamour and the latest fashion. It stands in stark contrast to the trashy novel by Lauren Weisberger, The Devil Wears Pravda and its adulation of fashion. It is a brilliant and damning indictment of the shallow world of fashion and celebrity.

Like The Zahir, this is a tale of obsession, obsession that turns to murder.

The cover design is not as nice as the Greek edition. [see Bookstore in Cyprus by Thelma]

Synchronicity: The day after I picked up a copy of The Winner Stands Alone, I turned on the radio and found myself listening on BBC Radio 4 Thinking Allowed to an excellent discussion of an exhibition illustrating throughout history status and rank, wealth, poverty and inequality through the visual arts.

During June 2009, Paulo Coelho will be running a workshop on this book.

Also read:

The Zahir Paulo Coelho [see BCID 6006077]

No Logo by Naomi Klein [see BCID 5479499]

Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho [see BCID 6945675]

Two Caravans by Marina Lewycka [see BCID 7048388"]

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger [see BCID 5651041]

Everyone Worth Knowing by Lauren Weisberger [see BCID 5763686]

The Brutal Art by Jesse Kellerman [see BCID 7099254]

A Quiet Belief in Angels [see BCID 6781100]

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