"we must be superstars"

agrammar:

I have a slightly odd and stat-packed essay about pop and narcissism in this week’s New York.

This is a good read. Also check out Utne Reader’s coverage of millennial narcissism from our May-June 2011 issue.

The Crockpot: A Weekly Link-Digest from Utne

A generation with self-love for sale:
I’m sitting in a coffee shop on Wednesday afternoon in a midsize,  noncoastal American city. A fiftysomething is screaming into his cell  phone; the woman sitting next to me is frantically blogging about her  favorite new movie, Julie & Julia, a flick about the success  of a narcissist and her blog; a pair of tweens just cut the checkout  line; and I just got a spam e-mail for penis enlargement.
A lot of this is harmless, of course. There’s no great damage done  when your buddy spams you with pictures of himself getting lap-danced at  a Vegas strip joint. The future of the republic is not imperiled by a  rise in the number of assholes who drive over the median to cut in front  of traffic at the freeway’s clogged exit. And sure, the planet will  survive in spite of the rise in cosmetic surgeries.
There is,  however, potential for damage when the achievement of fame and wealth  becomes the central organizing objective of society. The future of the  republic is threatened by a sharp increase in the number of people who  care only about themselves, and the earth’s ecosystem may not survive  the scourge of the smog-belching and gas-guzzling “me” culture that  first spread in the late 1970s and 1980s. This modern blast of  narcissism all but defines America now, an ugly symptom of a deeper  infection that predates the rise of the Internet.
The deification  of the individual and further suggestion that self-help can turn us into  divinities ultimately gave rise to the virus in the machine. That’s  what modern narcissism really is—a pernicious mix of qualities defined  by three phrases that start with self: selfishness, self-absorption, and self-importance. Read more …

A generation with self-love for sale:

I’m sitting in a coffee shop on Wednesday afternoon in a midsize, noncoastal American city. A fiftysomething is screaming into his cell phone; the woman sitting next to me is frantically blogging about her favorite new movie, Julie & Julia, a flick about the success of a narcissist and her blog; a pair of tweens just cut the checkout line; and I just got a spam e-mail for penis enlargement.

A lot of this is harmless, of course. There’s no great damage done when your buddy spams you with pictures of himself getting lap-danced at a Vegas strip joint. The future of the republic is not imperiled by a rise in the number of assholes who drive over the median to cut in front of traffic at the freeway’s clogged exit. And sure, the planet will survive in spite of the rise in cosmetic surgeries.

There is, however, potential for damage when the achievement of fame and wealth becomes the central organizing objective of society. The future of the republic is threatened by a sharp increase in the number of people who care only about themselves, and the earth’s ecosystem may not survive the scourge of the smog-belching and gas-guzzling “me” culture that first spread in the late 1970s and 1980s. This modern blast of narcissism all but defines America now, an ugly symptom of a deeper infection that predates the rise of the Internet.

The deification of the individual and further suggestion that self-help can turn us into divinities ultimately gave rise to the virus in the machine. That’s what modern narcissism really is—a pernicious mix of qualities defined by three phrases that start with self: selfishness, self-absorption, and self-importance. Read more …

The Crockpot: A Weekly Link-Digest from Utne

  • Our current issue has a number of stories on narcissism. Well, in that spirit comes the Museum of Me, “a new Facebook app from Intel that turns your life into a virtual gallery exhibition.” Look at me! Look at me!
  • What makes a new product a successful sell for the Lady Gaga Generation? Remember rule number one: “Everyone is Awesome.”
  • A petition to end the war on drugs in the next 24 hours.
  • Biblical prophecy and Michelle Bachmann.  Mother Jones dissects the politician’s relationship with Olive Tree Ministries, an evangelical Christian organization with an eye on the end times.
  • In case you hadn’t heard, populist playwright David Mamet is now a born again conservative. Kurt Loder chronicles the conversion in the current issue of Reason.
  • Do the Kennedys stop media portrayals of their family that they find objectionable? That’s the claim from Richard Bradley in Boston Magazine.
  • Yet another logical article about taxing the rich instead of cutting necessary programs. This one from Mark Engler at YES! Magazine.
  • How some species stick around despite drastic changes to their environment.
  • The lineup for TEDGlobal 2011, which starts in Edinburgh on July 11, is set. Among the over 75 artists, inventors, theorists, and activists slated to appear live and via international webcast are anti-extremism activist Maajid Nawaz, rational optimist Matt Ridley, and Debunker Ben Goldacre.
  • I scream, you scream, we all scream for amphibious ice cream.
  • A trip around the solar system, in pictures.
  • Randa Jarrar, who has written previously for Utne Reader, guest-edited the fiction section for Guernica Magazine this month.
  • Fans of HBO’s Treme—which chronicles life in New Orleans post-Katrina and if jam packed with native musicians and superstar cameos playing bounce, jazz, funk, and bluegrass—should check out this weekly water-cooler conversation, which tells you who is playing what.
  • If you’re looking for some summer reading, you’re in luck (or not): Glenn Beck is launching his own publishing imprint with Simon & Schuster called Mercury Ink. The imprint will feature fiction and nonfiction books that reflect Beck’s interests.
  • The Atlantic is doing just fine without blogger Andrew Sullivan, thank you. When the blogger extraordinaire left for The Daily Beastearlier this year, there was concern that the mag’s revitalizing online growth would take a hit. Instead, the site hit 10 million uniques in May.
  • What happens when a violent criminal enrolls in a Ph.D. program for “homicide studies”? He becomes an academically-trained serial killer.
  • Did you ever wish you had a twin? Mental Floss presents some of the charms and quirks of unusually close twins.
  • Molly Jong-Fast—whose mother, Erica Jong, is famous for writing about women and sexual liberation—wrote an essay for Salon about living a (relatively) prude life.
What happens when narcissists grow up and have kids? You won’t empathize.

What happens when narcissists grow up and have kids? You won’t empathize.

Who is the common reader now? Common readers—which is to say the  great majority of people who continue to read—read for one purpose and  one purpose only. They read for pleasure. They read to be entertained.  They read to be diverted, assuaged, comforted, and tickled. The evidence  for this phenomenon is not far to seek. Check out the best-seller  lists, even in the exalted New York Times. See what Oprah’s  reading. Glance at the Amazon top 100. Look around on the airplane.  Reading, where it exists at all, has largely become an unprofitable wing  of the diversion industry.
In other words, Narcissus regards the novel …

Who is the common reader now? Common readers—which is to say the great majority of people who continue to read—read for one purpose and one purpose only. They read for pleasure. They read to be entertained. They read to be diverted, assuaged, comforted, and tickled. The evidence for this phenomenon is not far to seek. Check out the best-seller lists, even in the exalted New York Times. See what Oprah’s reading. Glance at the Amazon top 100. Look around on the airplane. Reading, where it exists at all, has largely become an unprofitable wing of the diversion industry.

In other words, Narcissus regards the novel …

The myth of the narcissistic millennial. Read more …

The myth of the narcissistic millennial. Read more …

If you dive into the table of contents of our latest issue—you’ll see that the Utne staff can’t stop thinking about itself. Or rather, we can’t stop thinking about narcissism. We printed an excerpt from The Culture of Narcissism by Christopher Lasch—a piece that first appeared in 1979—because it has never felt more relevant. Check out his prophetic essay here …

If you dive into the table of contents of our latest issue—you’ll see that the Utne staff can’t stop thinking about itself. Or rather, we can’t stop thinking about narcissism. We printed an excerpt from The Culture of Narcissism by Christopher Lasch—a piece that first appeared in 1979—because it has never felt more relevant. Check out his prophetic essay here …