Wednesday, January 2, 2013

- Narcissism Is Incredibly Boring

One last post for today, and then I have a ton of work to get to.

I don't generally have a lot of time for reading the work of critics. Call it a vanity if you must, but apart from the 3 out of 5 stars sort of critical 1 liners, I'm not that interested in hearing about other people's opinion. I can decide for myself if I think "Life of Pi" was better than "Lincoln" (I think it was) and I don't care whether someone else thought so or not. That goes for books as well as movies.

But this is a special case. It's a Theodore Dalrymple review and comparison of a pair of books written by people close to mass murderers in Britain. One was the sister of a victim, the other, the sister (and nearly fatal victim) of the murderer. He doesn't draw much in the way of societal comment from the two works, or at least keeps his conclusions limited. But I mentally took it a bit further.

I've described the American Boomers as a people who feel like the star in the movie of their lives. They will never ever lower themselves to take a supporting role. They are a people who constantly think (if not say) "But enough about me, what do you think of me?" They have embraced their ego as the the ultimate arbiter of their entire lives and self congratulation has become the motivator for their entire experience. In their minds the spotlight of the universe, is always on them.

I view this as a tragic, and hopefully temporary thing. No society could take it any further than they have an expect to endure. Thankfully, both the generation that preceded the boomers and the one that followed it are less that way. They are more conservative generally, and less likely to believe that everything in the universe is just a reflection of their feelings about it. And when I look to the future in the face of my daughter, or to someone like Danny Derbyshire, I see even less of that kind of self absorption. So I'm generally hopeful on this front.

But I think Dalrymple says something important about the tendency that the boomers demonstrate. What I took from it (at least in part) is an argument that the kind of Narcissism the Boomers embrace completely ruins art. It becomes impossible for anyone that self absorbed to say anything that matters to anyone else, and in the end they end up boring and shallow. He says a lot of other things of course, and it's a worthy read. But this was the biggest theme I got from it, and it makes sense to me.

It certainly explains reality TV.

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