Distribution Automatique

Monday, March 15

Further Thoughts on Blogging and Narcissism
[continued from Sunday, March 14]

"Every day we go out in search of transcendence,
and find objects."

It is difficult to imagine self-sufficiency as
being anything but advantageous.
One might speculate that the United
States, having emerged as the
prodigal child of the British
Empire, began its existence
with a strong step in the direction
of self-sufficiency.
In 19th Century European literature,
Americans are viewed as prosperous businesspersons
with little sophistication and insight
and this image continued into the
20th century with the emergence
of "the ugly American." Part
of this must certainly be understood
as envy, as if Americans
were perpetural adolescents to be secretly
(unconsciously) admired
for their boldness
and inventiveness but consciously despised
as selfish, inconsiderate bullies.
In any case, we remain the new kid on the block,
creator of charismatic, independent heroes like James Dean
watching the easily duped enemy go over
a cliff in the dark during an car race in *Rebel Without a Cause.*
The latest in this series is Johnny Depp:
nonconformist, eliciting
longings for long lost autonomy,
idealistic values, and optimism,
perpetual adolescent,
perpetual bastion of hope for the future.

Almost all American heroes embrace
autonomy and self-sufficiency,
however, and in recent decades,
more and more they incorporate these
noble values into militaristic, fascist
philosophies. This might be
because such values are so easily
melded into materialism. The courageous
Nick Cage of *Leaving Las Vegas*
succumbs to films reeking with box
office formulas; the same for the Harrison Ford
of *Blade Runner.*
The self-sufficiency of one developmental
stage, adolescence, is easily exploited
for its contiguity with materialistic values.
This is because
self-sufficiency is the flexible,
moldable inner substance of narcissism. As an aspect
of a healthy personality,
self-sufficiency contributes to independent thinking,
functioning, perception and insight.
But when it becomes a central aspect of
the personality, ultimately neutralizing the
ability of the personality to empathize and work generously
with others, it becomes the hardened heart of narcissism.

There are crossroads in the developmental
highway of the individual personality
and that of nations. In adolesence,
this crossroad juxtaposes degrees of self-
sufficiency with degrees of empathy.
The right mixture of the two can amplify
both tendencies, but this mixture must be fairly precise.
Too much empathy can
torque the personality towards a hopelessly
utopian, passive idealism, while too much
self-sufficiency creates a twisted Scrooge.
We live in a nation of narcissistic,
twisted Scrooges, who are held in check
only by the energetic work of a relatively
small group of visionaries who have the
wisdom to understand that only by
working closely with everyone else,
can the success of the few be directed towards
healing the illnesses of a pathologically
wounded and conflicted world.

At this moment in time, blogging,
as a writing movement, is blessed with an opportunity
to evolve a writing tendency that can combine
self-sufficiency with empathy in a way
that can be advantageous to the individual writer,
and at the same time to the writing
community, the local community, the nation,
and the world. Blogging is quite capable of
allowing individual writers quite a lot of
space to take a place on the continuum of
community involvement and sustain
quite a lot of automonomy. This is largely because
of the technological advances inherent in html linking, and the
fact that, at the moment, it is being made available free of charge.
The issues of distribution have
been discussed here and elsewhere again and again.
At this moment, the blogging
community, and the country as a whole
has a unique opportunity to heed
Matthew Arnold's lyric, dire warning that

"The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night."