Archive | January 2012

The Political Economy of Narcissism: Reflections on Narcissism and Self-Destruction, III

As I continue to read in Jean Twenge’s and Keith Campbell’s The Narcissism Epidemic, one of the criticisms I have of it is that the book is heavy on the psychology of narcissism and rather light on the sociology of it. Although I would recommend the book (with some reservations) it seems to me that the authors still lack a comprehensive model that would also include what we might refer to as “the political economy of narcissism”.
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The Myth of Narcissus: Reflections on Narcissism and Self-Destruction, II

One of the problems with relying on a medical model and a clinical definition of narcissism is that it tends to obscure the fact that almost all human beings fall into the trap we have come to call “narcissism”. It is, perhaps, the inevitable fate of creatures that develop ego-awareness, and is a problem that must be worked through. The universal religions arose in the form they did because of narcissism, even if it was earlier called by another name — idolatry. For the idols were traps for consciousness, and they remain so today, even if today they are now called “ideals” rather than “idols”.
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I, Me, Mine, Myself: Reflections on Narcissism and Self-Destruction

I am presently reading Jean M. Twenge’s and W. Keith Campbell’s book The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement, and making copious notes in the process. With this post, I want to begin sharing some of my observations and criticisms of their understanding of narcissism — where they go right, and where they go wrong — even if I haven’t yet concluded reading the book.
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Ironic Reversal is the Real “End of History”

“Liberal institutions cease to be liberal as soon as they are attained: later on, there are no worse and no more thorough injurers of freedom than liberal institutions.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

What Nietzsche is describing in this passage excerpted from Twilight of the Idols is the process of ironic reversal. We have also called this process enantiodromia, after the usage of the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, who coined the term under the influence of the Greek pre-Socratic philosopher Heraklitus, “the Weeping Philosopher” famous for his paradoxes. Enantiodromia is the process by which things or actions revert and turn into their polar opposites. The action of ironic reversal is also the issue of the nihilism of our times. “All higher values devalue themselves” — Nietzsche’s succinct formula for nihilism — contains the whole issue of ironic reversal. And ironic reversal is the theme of this post.
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The Radical and the Reactionary at the End of History

Needing to refamiliarise myself with the ideas of  the “speech-thinker” Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, I began reading once again in his little book entitled The Origin of Speech where I came upon a lengthy passage that is suggestive for understanding our times. I am going to reproduce it at length, adding (perhaps) a brief commentary at the conclusion.

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