Since she appeared on the first episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians in 2007, then a somewhat-gangly preteen, Kendall Jenner has been famous. Over the past six months, the model has seen her professional profile grow to match her reality-show one, strutting catwalks for Marc Jacobs and Chanel and landing campaigns for Estee Lauder and Calvin Klein. The new swell of professional opportunities has also brought a swell of publications eager to talk with Jenner about her burgeoning career beyond the confines of the E! network. While she may only be 19-years old, Jenner's interviews uncover a logic and reasoning, a lack of interiority so complete that it becomes its own school of great philosophical thought, a hyper-exteriority. Giving soundbites filled with obtuse observations about fame and its trappings, the young Jenner's parsing of how she views her own highly-visible life is a class in a new kind of reality-show metaphysics. We've pored over her recent interviews to present a guide to the koans of Kendall.
Kendall 101: Self-Presentation
"Instagram is my edit of my life." -- Vogue, November 2014
For the great masses, Instagram is a tool for sharing our meals, our cats, our cats' meals, etc. But Jenner knows it is so much more. Like the Pythagoreans before her, Kendall has divined that everything in the world, both physical and abstract, is derived from numbers. Popularity. Chanel Bags. Met Gala invitations. The existence of all these things begins with numbers. As her over 27 million dedicated followers demonstrate, Jenner has maximized her grasp of the conceit that numbers are the basis of all things.
Photo via Instagram
Kendall 202: Zen and the Art of Dental Maintenance
"I used to have the craziest fear of losing teeth. I would have nightmares about that all the time. But it's the craziest thing, because I feel like that's one of the easiest things to fix. You just get veneers or something." -- Interview, June 2014
Dreaming about teeth falling out is a common nightmare, and can imply that the dreamer feels like they're losing control. It might be easy to ascribe this to a lack of control over her life, but Jenner in fact has gone deeper. She shows a keen understanding of the metaphysical debate about the existence of objects, and the mind-body distinction. Much as Descartes determined that the mind must exist separate from the body, Jenner determines that there are abstract and material aspects to the world. Jenner takes it a step further, not only acknowledging the duality of abstract thoughts like nightmares and physical objects like veneers, but then going so far as to establish the primacy of objects in the world. In Kendallism, if abstract questions perturb you, look to a material good to fix the problem.
Kendall 303: Time Is Always Rolling
"It's scary. Life is scary. It's just scary to think how fast everything is rolling and you can't stop it. It's rolling right now." -- Sunday Times, May 2015
The contemplation of the relentless march of time is a favorite philosophical chestnut. Here Jenner displays an innate understanding of the unstoppable flow of time and life towards its inevitable terminus, an awareness of an ending akin to the "death consciousness" expressed by Sartre. Jenner is keenly alert to the fact that all things must move forward, and that death comes for us all, even as her youthful self will live forever in KUWTK reruns. In order to embrace high-level Kendall-thinking, you must embrace the fact that time is not a flat circle, but an ever-flowing stream.
Kendallism 404: Abnormal is the New Normal
"It's really weird. I understand that it's not normal...But it is normal." -- GQ, May 2015
Progressing in your understanding of the Jenner philosophy means possessing the ability to possess two seemingly opposed concepts in your mind at the same time. Jenner admits that her life hasn't been average by any definition. Simultaneously, she will tell you that the life of intense fame and scrutiny, of tabloid coverage and constant scrutiny, is utterly normal. Two concepts, diametrically opposed, living in harmony.
Kendallism 501: Everything Is Real
"'It's completely me,' she says, about the person you see on television. 'I don't know how I'd have to play a character.'" -- GQ, May 2015
The final stage to achieving true transcendence under Kendallism is to believe that all you present to the world is truth. Here Jenner taps into the age-old metaphysical debate about identity, particularly Leibniz's belief that so long as two things share the precise same properties, they are the same. Even if your desire not to have TV cameras follow you while working on fashion shows might imply that you're trying to carve out a different, more private persona, you must also remember that you are, at the same time, entirely "Kendall Jenner, reality TV star."