The Self-Made Chamele-man

A self-made man is someone whose circumstance and inherent qualities/abilites do not make him apt for success in his specific environment so he becomes successful by altering himself by assuming the qualities of those who are successful. We can compare this to the evolution of a chamillion. Why do chamilions possess the ability to camoflauge with their environment. They got this ability because they were always too easily spotted by predators. Overtime the environment favored those that were able to blend in with their environments, as the ones couldn’t were too easily spotted by their predators and thus killed. Natural selection favored the chamillions who could camoflauge. If for the camilion, to succeed is to survive, then their success as a species is due to the ability to adapt to their surroundings. The self-made man is like the camillion: he draws his success from adapting to his surroundings.
    Benjamin Franklin projects this idea of adapting to one’s surroundings in his works regarding how to be successful. We see this in the list of thirteen virtues in the excerpt from his autobiography we read in class. He preaches against any/all activity that will result in negative attention from others: “speak not but what may benefit others”, “Use no hurtful deceipt. Think innocently and justly; and if you speak, speak accordingly”, “wring none, by doing Injuries or omitting the Benefits that are your Duty”, “Forbear resenting Injuries so much as you think they deserve”. He is saying one should always focus on the task at hand and abstain from thoughts that will interfere with your ability to perform the task at hand or cause others to interfere with your ability to perform the task at hand. This advice is non-specific and will aid one’s ability to succeed in any environment because it ultimately helps one camoflauge with his her environment–or “work environment”, as the case may be.
    This directed piece of advice to abstain from saying or doing anything that will result in negative attention fits perfectly into the bigger picture of Franklin’s teachings: his advice is not particular to the success in any specific environment but, rather it teaches one how to obtain the abilities of adaptability that allow people to succeed in any environment. If it was a handbook for being a successful camillion, rather than being about “how to look like tree” or “how to look like a leaf” it’s simply “ how to look like_____” which is synonomous for “how to camoflauge”.
    The notion of camoflauging is only specific to self-made success. A tree doesn’t need to know how to blend in order to be successful in it’s environment. A tree defines success for its environment- it’s what defines success for the camillion when it’s in that environment. Because the tree sprouts from the ground with the predispotion for success in its environment that means its success is not self-made. It is a favorable aliging of innate traits and an environment that favors those traits. The characters, Romo and Blake from Glengarry Glen Ross are like the tree. They don’t possess the ability to adapt or camoflauge  but they don’t need it because they’re aggressive, confident personalities are favorable for success in their environment (as salesmen).
    The camillion, the other hand is comparable to Gatsby’s character, in The Great Gatsby. Although  his character does not have a successful or “happy” ending, he is considered successful with regards to wealth. If being successful means being wealthy then he achieved it. He achieved it by camoflauging with the trees–we can equate the trees with the Daisy and Tom and the other East-Eggers. Gatsby attempted to assume all of their qualities. While he did manage to obtain the money, he could not obtain the lineage. He did not successfully blend in with the trees. He was spotted as a reptile only pretending to be a tree. Had he managed to camoflauge and blend in perfectly with his environment, he wouls have been successful.
    Thus, still thinking of the self-made man as the camilion, he draws his success from camoflauging. This trait is true of all camilions, however, it is the “success” that is not true of all environments. This reveals the irony of the concept of  the individual who is a self-made success; thinking of it in terms of uniqueness and universalness, we would assume the individual to possess the unique qualites (escpecially considering that “unique” and “inidivdual are synonyms” and the success to possess the univerasal qualities; however, it is the individual who possesses the universal qualties (adaptability and camoflauging) and the success that possess the unique qualities (specific to environment).
    The reality TV show “Biggest Loser” illustrates this idea. The universal idea of success in television would seem to say one needs to be thin and beautiful to be on television, however to be successful chosen to be on televsion for this specific show, the opposite is the case. If the self-made man’s goal was to be on that show, rather than becoming “thin and beautiful” he would gain a lot of weight because that would render him successful in this specific instance. This shows us how the unique-universal  relationship between success and the self-made man always withstand.    


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