Judging The Existential Awareness Of Four Celebrities On A Scale Of 1 To 10

For the purpose of this article, “existential awareness” will denote a certain, conscious recognition characterized by a) consistently reminding oneself of the impermanence of oneself, others, and matter, b) the belief that cause and effect and the laws of physics govern reality, c) God and other supernatural beings are myth, and d) the universe does not actively “prefer” or “decide,” rather, it “unravels.”

Matt Damon

Matt Damon seems ‘incredibly’ existentially aware, in my view, mostly concerning his extremely philanthropic behavior concerning his quest to bring fresh water to Africa, among others. Seems like Matt Damon feels totally aware of the fact that he’s quickly hurtling toward inevitable death on a daily basis and consequently is ‘rushing through’ philanthropic venture after philanthropic venture in a simple effort to finish as many as possible (just as one would rush through a level in a video game scored both by how fast one completed it as well has how many points one collected) and maximize the amount of impact he has on the world before he dies. One imagines Matt Damon in a sheer existential panic, even, upon reading the “Humanitarian Work” section of his Wikipedia.

While we can’t speak for his religious tendencies, I think we can safely agree that Matt Damon has an extremely high existential awareness. His anxiety about death and the inevitability of human suffering due to an unflinching universe that answers only to physics most likely plague him on a day-to-day basis, but especially unexpectedly – for half-seconds between microtasks – in rapid glimmers of existential doom he’s forced to block and move quickly away from in order to complete the next item on his packed daily to-do list.

Final score: 8.6 out of 10

Lindsay Lohan/ Paris Hilton

Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton seem to basically be the same brand of dumbass and if it were not for the fact that their faces/bodies are distinguishable from each other, many of us would have trouble telling the two apart indeed; as such I will speak of them as one person (“Lohan/Hilton”). It is clear to me that Lohan/Hilton has probably only ‘accidentally’ thought about death, Just World Theory, limited time and etc. Perhaps it has occured in a moment of disorientation after a particularly gigantic line of coke or in the throes of a seratonin-depleted drug hangover, albeit briefly – before the flash could even be identified – that death was indeed imminent, even to moneyed people such as she. In fact, I will even go so far as to submit that Lohan/Hilton does not comprehend death at all. Rather, as one knows that other people are living on the other side of the world – Lohan/Hilton simply knows death exists; she simply knows that it’s something that happens. This is the extent of Lohan/Hilton’s existential awareness.

Final score: 1.2 out of 10

Oprah Winfrey

Over the course of my lifetime, around women (my mom, my girlfriends) who have been fans of Oprah Winfrey, I have become completely convinced that the woman is terrified of death. (This need not be interpreted negatively – to be afraid of death is OK by me; I am afraid of death.) What’s most existentially troubling about Winfrey’s career is her recent transition from daytime television to a more executive, god-like role as the producer of the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), which I heard was doing poorly. This move worries me because it indicates that such a life-changing shift must have been made over the course of many existentially, absolutely excruciatingly doomed/ panicked nights in bed, the lights turned off, holding tightly onto her immense down comforter as if a great Death Wind might blow her away at any moment. I can not imagine the terror of it all, but it must have indeed involved an incalculable amount of time balancing the awareness of the fact that she’s going to die relatively soon – that she’s already lived the majority of her allotted time – with the fact that she still desires to make a certain amount of impact on the world.

Final score: 6.4 out of 10 (I think she believes in Heaven, which dulls the experience of feeling existentially fucked)

James Franco

I must admit that I know very little about James Franco. I know that he starred in 127 Hours – a movie, undoubtedly, about death – and I’ve been part of the blogosphere long enough to have caught the weird stories surrounding the actor (snubbing Gawker, acting weird at parties, being Into Literature, maybe). From the generalized good/ bad hype surrounding Franco, I’ll venture that Franco is aware of the basic existential plight a First World individual faces – that he’s read up on it, and can probably quote Camus and Sartre and Pessoa and Dostoyevsky and Foucault with the rest of his striving-to-be-as-intellectual-as-they-are-pretty friends – but he probably won’t be giving so much of a shit about it until he finishes his fame cycle and either a) the knowledge consumes him à la Charlie Sheen, or b) he takes it gracefully and goes into Matt Damon mode. Either way – currently, one imagines Franco simply not caring enough about the fact that the tendency of complex systems (like the human body) are to disperse and thus become less complex over time (death, decay, breakdown) because he’s got a bunch of money to spend and fun shit to do at the moment, so he might as well ignore death while he can.

Final score: 4.8 out of 10 Thought Catalog Logo Mark

I am the co-publisher of Thought Catalog. Follow me on Twitter. I also use a pen name called Holden Desalles.

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