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What's not to self-love? - click opera
February 2010
 
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Sun, Feb. 7th, 2010 12:44 pm
What's not to self-love?

Am I a narcissist? The question itself is self-indulgent and self-absorbed, but I can't help asking it. Maybe my six years demanding your daily attention here at Click Opera have been nothing but "digital narcissism", a daily seduction, an attempt to put myself at the centre of the world, to spin myself into every story, to make myself the universal prism, the central aleph, the keystone in a grand facade. Has the motif behind every story (and almost thirty years of records, for that matter) really been "me, me, me"?



I think it's clear that I am a narcissist -- God knows, I love and believe in myself strongly enough -- but I'd say I'm also rather guilty about it. I'd say I diffuse my self-love out into so many other things that it becomes acceptable. It's not sticky and repulsive any more, as immoderate self-love tends to be.

Or does it? According to an article on PsyBlog, Why we love narcissists (at first), "despite being self-absorbed, arrogant, entitled and exploitative, narcissists are also fascinating... we are strangely drawn to their self-centred personalities, their dominance and their hostility, their sensitivity and their despair, at least for a while."

The article reports an experiment by social psychologist Mitja Back which found that narcissists make a good first impression because they look, sound and move better. They use charming facial expressions, have a more confident speaking tone, wear more fashionable clothes, have trendier haircuts and are funnier.

Wow, what's not to self-love? Narcissists sound like attractive hipsters! They must get laid a lot!



If they do -- and surely they do -- their relationships don't last long, Back found. Weirdly enough, it's the narcissist-hipster's entitlement and exploitative abilities which lure people in initially: "participants liked narcissists' sense of entitlement most -- of the four aspects of narcissism they studied (leadership/authority, self-admiration/self-absorption, arrogance/superiority and entitlement/exploitativeness) it was the last of these that most predicted liking". However, "narcissists are usually soon found out and shunned since few people will put up with a self-absorbed, authoritarian, arrogant, exploitative friend".

At this point my picture of the narcissist -- with his trendy haircut and funny comments -- became the image of a musician on tour, getting laid every night but exhausting sympathy just in time to move on to the next concert in the next town. But the digital dandy could fit the bill just as well: instead of sticking around long enough for real people to get the message that there's no place in the dandy's heart for anyone but himself, he can simply display himself digitally in the web's shop window.

"Behaving selfishly seems to bring them a rush of admiration which they get addicted to, while devaluing others when the inevitable rejection comes, covering it up by searching out new people to worship them. The reason narcissists fail to spot this cycle may well be that friends and partners never hang around long enough to tell them in such a way that they actually believe it and want to do something about it," the article concludes.

That almost makes it sound like narcissism is being made into a "cycle of abuse", a "clinical condition requiring treatment", and even a "disease". And it might well be a facet of the narcissism of psychologists that they see themselves as the universal prism, the central aleph, the see-all and cure-all. Do scientists have a grudge against artists? Do they want us to be as boring as them? It's certainly understandable that these science types would prefer to vest their own value in something other than cool clothes, immediate charm, and a nice line in chat-up patter.



So, therapy for narcissists. Would it remove their charm and attractiveness, or only their own exploitation and manipulation of it to seduce the easily-impressed? Would the trendy haircut, the nice voice, the funny remarks, vanish after a course of antibiotics? Would the narcissist become one of those English self-deprecators who proudly proclaims his complete inadequacy, stupidity and laziness at every opportunity (surely a kind of "inverted narcissism" even more egregious than the overt kind, since it often comes with a refusal to improve)?

Attacks on narcissists disturb me just as attacks on hipsters do. After reading the PsyBlog piece -- to get the astringent flavour of crushed aspirin out of my mouth -- I watched a lot of Prince videos: Kiss, Sexy MF, Alphabet Street, Cream. You can only watch them on dodgy offshore servers, because either Prince or the media moguls who own his material slap suits on anyone showing them (and I don't mean padded-shouldered, wasp-waisted numbers with peep-holes for chest hair).

The narcissism levels in the Prince vids were off the meter, way beyond the red. I loved them. I imagined that if I'd been born a girl (Sheena Easton, for instance) I'd willingly have served my time as a love-slave in the pimp-imp's harem. The idea of a "normal" Prince cured of his scandalous self-love... well, it's just plain fugly.

52CommentReplyShare


(Anonymous)
Sun, Feb. 7th, 2010 12:01 pm (UTC)
Vanity

Both Stuart Goddard and Prince (I think) had affairs with Vanity.



I mean, the singer Vanity, not the concept:



Or do I mean both?

Anyway, if narcissism is attractive, then Stuart Goddard and Prince are worthy rivals. I'd pay to see them in the ring together for pose-off. Who would win?

I must say, though, I'm a bit suspicious of the definition of narcissism offered by PsyBlog and Back. I always thought that I must be a narcissist, but I don't recognise myself here:

The article reports an experiment by social psychologist Mitja Back which found that narcissists make a good first impression because they look, sound and move better. They use charming facial expressions, have a more confident speaking tone, wear more fashionable clothes, have trendier haircuts and are funnier.

Wow, what's not to self-love? Narcissists sound like attractive hipsters! They must get laid a lot!


I suppose I must be one of those execrable inverse narcissists, the very lowest of the low. Just my luck. Oh well, I suppose I can't help it. People will just have to love me or leave me. I'd prefer the former, of course, but I know what will actually happen.



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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Feb. 7th, 2010 12:24 pm (UTC)
Re: Vanity

I think Back's findings -- at least as reported on PsyBlog -- have a suspiciously teleological narrative structure. Having established the narcissist as a charming and impressive cad, this narrative (and Back maps it explicitly to the narrative in Reality TV shows, when the initially-interesting get voted out in the end) gives us normal folk a satisfying comeuppance in the form of "eventual shunning". It's the classic structure of Greek tragedy, in fact: hubris followed by nemesis.

Is life like that? I'm not so sure. To the hubris-nemesis structure I'd counter with a more realistic idea from The Bible: the wicked flourish like the green bay tree.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Feb. 7th, 2010 12:28 pm (UTC)

THREE MORE POSTS BEFORE THE BIG SLEEP!


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most_ghost
BW
Sun, Feb. 7th, 2010 01:42 pm (UTC)

Have you seen chatroulette >>> the random video chat website. It's kind of mind blowing/disgusting.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Feb. 7th, 2010 01:59 pm (UTC)

Ha, it would be funny if I chucked in Click Opera to become a camwhore on Chatroulette!



No, I don't think so.


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Feb. 7th, 2010 02:03 pm (UTC)

Tho i have just came across your blog yesterday i have viewed almost every post i think i could in a day looking at it for hours i really enjoy your outlook and you are a very interesting person by far.

-Brian
www.seeyouinsleep.com/blog


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Feb. 7th, 2010 02:17 pm (UTC)

I find your narcissism quite boring, to be honest. I don't tend to spend long on the posts where you're just endlessly spewing out pictures of yourself. I much prefer it when you're talking about something other than yourself, because you have some interesting ideas about the world.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Feb. 7th, 2010 02:32 pm (UTC)

Oh, I quite agree! I also hate it when other males show pictures of themselves on their blogs. But my attitude is reversed if it's a female. Then I want them to be complete camwhores. So then I question the sexism built into that -- men encouraged to show their knowledge / control of the world, women encouraged to show their personal attractiveness -- and decide to deconstruct it. Which brings me back to posting pictures of myself.


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Feb. 7th, 2010 02:33 pm (UTC)

Narcissism is attractive in attractive people, Adam Ant and Prince being 2 good examples. It's not so appealing in the dreary hipsters mutton dressed as lamb brigade. I wouldn't dare say where you fitted in.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Feb. 7th, 2010 02:59 pm (UTC)

I don't think "mutton dressed as lamb" is a good description of my sartorial style, to be honest. My style is mostly influenced by cute old ladies and poor Asians.


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greynotreal
greynotreal
Five lives of mine can fit into yours
Sun, Feb. 7th, 2010 02:49 pm (UTC)

I don't understand why so many people seem to wallow in their own "narcissism". From what I've understood, real narcissism is so much more than just standing in front of the mirror/web cam, engaging in flamboyant behaviour etc. When you read more about narcissism as a dominant personality trait (or disorder) you realise that the constant need of approval from others and the self love stems from a very low self esteem and/or brutal self hate. And that's not something one wants to strive for, is it? It shouldn't be.

I don't think blogging is very narcissistic, neither posting 3478347834 images of yourself on the internetz. Everyone's doing it, so you're not really standing out in the crowd. Everyone who posts on the web on a daily basis on twitter/blogs/etc have a number of followers, and since most of us are flattered by that kind of attention, we're prone to continue posting, as to encourage our "fans" to keep affirming our ego.

Idk, I see narcissism as an entirely different thing than being a bit of a cam whore, wanting some attention and being a bit self obsessed. Most of us live in societies where the focus is on the individual, not the community, so of course we all tend to be a bit wrapped up in ourselves. That's not really narcisissim I think, it's a pretty common learned behavour that totally makes sense if you look at the bigger picture.


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Feb. 7th, 2010 03:24 pm (UTC)

Finally I get a chance to embed an image on Click Opera! I just hope it works. If it doesn't, you'll get the idea from the image URL. This is my favorite Prince album cover - and one of my favorite Prince albums in general. Another one would be, very unoriginally, "Sign O' The Times".

Prince Lovesexy

FrF


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thomascott
thomascott
Thomas Scott
Sun, Feb. 7th, 2010 03:34 pm (UTC)

To fully fit the bill of the classic narcissist, you would have to come with an enormous core-insecurity. I can't say I see that being very much in evidence, Momus!


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Feb. 7th, 2010 04:41 pm (UTC)

Momus, vous n'avez pas parlé de vos projets internet pour l'ère post-Click Opera. Je refuse de croire que vous allez quand même quitter le web juste comme ça ! Est-ce que vous avez déjà des idées ? Est-ce vous allez créer votre propre site ou magazine en-ligne ?


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milky_eyes
milky_eyes
milky_eyes
Sun, Feb. 7th, 2010 05:34 pm (UTC)

This blog was fun. I dont think your narcissism got in the way of it too much. It was great to meet and have a daily chat with the good ol' Momus.

The wigs and costumes are awesome, the self parody was well informed...

It seemed your main plan was to have fun... you always tried to give people what they wanted... if we asked for milk... more milk it was... more words... more words it was... more pics of hot japanese girls... so it was....

cant argue with that...

honestly pretty much amazed at this one man operation... just kept chugging along...




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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Feb. 8th, 2010 01:35 am (UTC)

Thanks, Milky!


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count_vronsky
count_vronsky
Sun, Feb. 7th, 2010 05:48 pm (UTC)

bah to psychologists, their one great achievement over the last century has been to medicalize personality. I think that if you have a flaw it is that you are too Freudian. Too much under the spell of... what did Nabokov, that ace narcissist, call him? The Viennese quack. (E Wilson once quipped that "schadenfreude" in N's case meant "hatred of freud".)

It occurred to me the other day, in one of those glittering thoughts that flitter through the twinkling jitter of alpha waves we call consciousness, that Lolita could be read as an extended joke on Freud, a rebuke of his central oedipal theory. In that it is not the secret unconscious desire of all men to kill the father and sleep with the mother, but rather our desire is to kill the mother and sleep with the daughter.



What a fall! What a silly Julia! What luck that Mr. Romeo still gripped and twisted and cracked that crooked cricoid as X-rayed by the firemen and mountain guides in the street. How they flew! Superman carrying a young soul in his embrace!
...

The surroundings were unrecognizable--except for the white wall. His heart was beating as after an arduous climb. A blond little girl with a badminton racket crouched and picked up her shuttlecock from the sidewalk. Farther up he located Villa Nastia, now painted a celestial blue. All its windows were shuttered.
...

The tap expostulated, letting forth a strong squirt of rusty water before settling down to produce the meek normal stuff--which you do not appreciate sufficiently, which is a flowing mystery, and, yes, yes, which deserves monuments to be erected to it, cool shrines!
...

I believed that the treasured memories in a dying man's mind dwindled to rainbow wisps; but now I feel just the contrary: my most trivial sentiments and those of all men have aquired gigantic proportions. The entire solar system is but a reflection in the crystal of my (or your) wrist watch... Total rejection of all religions ever dreamt up by man and total composure in the face of total death! If I could explain this triple totality in one big book, that would become no doubt a new bible and its author the founder of a new creed.
...

This is, I believe, it: not the crude anguish of physical death but the incomparable pangs of the mysterious mental maneuver needed to pass from one state of being to another.

- transparent things


Edited at 2010-02-07 09:32 pm (UTC)


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wolodymyr
wolodymyr
wolodymyr
Sun, Feb. 7th, 2010 06:44 pm (UTC)
% WyRȋJTrwҖbg}dcT!K#KNo> %3A(^fNAd

Oh, dear.

People kick up these conversations about narcissism to which you can respond ("Isherwood was a narcissist!" "Was NOT!") because the actual concern-causing form of narcissism is so thankfully goddamn rare.

Actual narcissists who are of concern to anybody are capable of letting their loved ones die, in the house with them or in front of them.

An actual narcissist is somebody who wouldn't call an ambulance for you if you fell and shook.

Or who would let you spend the winter with one pair of bad shoes and no socks while they bought skin cream, not because they were mean, not because they were Dickensian, but you didn't occur to them as having physical reality. Because when you're a narcissist of that real, rare, concern-causing kind something really statistically infrequent is going on in your head.

Dearest Momus, if you have a rabbit in your house and it's alive even thought you've been called upon to care for it occasionally, you're no narcissist. Of an other-than-the-Isherwoody-"here's-my-cliched-headline" variety.

The only problem with the general living-room fluffery about BEING A NARCISSIST! ("Do you like my new wig?" "You must be SICK!") is that it does trivialize the actual situation, which the human mind has some trouble getting around. Because, frankly, we prefer the Dickensian situation. Malice is physically easier to understand.

The only real problem with posts like this is that they do, to a very small, probably only truly troubling to people in true trouble type extent, make actual help harder to come by. Because they kick sand over something already easy to miss.

Basically, I think enabling count_vronsky is lame. People say that shit when they haven't had their lives endangered by people with mental problems. (ETA: No, not true. There are a lot of people who've been in it or near it who spread it. "You're getting beaten up at home? Piffle! That's love! And you don't know what getting beaten up at home is like!" &damnedc.)That we as a we are still so bad at defining, much less handling, those mental problems doesn't make the near-death experiences less near-death. And so doesn't make the trivialization read as less aggressive.

On the other hand, who cares? Which is what I've been asking myself a good deal lately. Does it matter if a story is racist? How does it matter? Does it matter if a story misrepresents the common physical experience of rape to coddle perpetrators or date-rapists? How does it matter? Your journal is devoting to assessing that how - those various hows - quite a lot of the time, for which I adore it. So maybe it's something at some point you'd pick up. I would love to read it. As I've loved every single wig and eyepatch variation, and another gentleman's every single shoulder-padded, wasp-waisted, cut-away suit.

Edited at 2010-02-07 06:53 pm (UTC)


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tampopon
tampopon
Sun, Feb. 7th, 2010 07:06 pm (UTC)
Hisae

So where does Hisae fit in? She seems quite the quiet type. Does she watch you like a television show? Will she take over the blog when you're gone?

I used to be anon; after seeing you in Tokyo at the gallery-event, I think it pays to share, even if it means sticking your virtual neck out. who knows.


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Feb. 7th, 2010 07:59 pm (UTC)
look Mom!

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100206/lf_afp/lifestyleskoreatourismleisure_20100206205732 (http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100206/lf_afp/lifestyleskoreatourismleisure_20100206205732)


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liznetherway
liznetherway
Sun, Feb. 7th, 2010 08:03 pm (UTC)
prince

it is strange that you say that - I had the same feelings about you! mid 80s listening to 'Closer To you' particularly. I had only ever felt the same about David Bowie - but when I heard you say 'damn the thin white duke' I was enslaved... I had never heard anyone being sexy and intelligent at the same time before. the next thing I did was go through the whole of 'what will death be like' and look up the books and people mentioned.

liz


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sun, Feb. 7th, 2010 10:25 pm (UTC)
Re: prince

Respect!

In case there's someone here who hasn't heard it:

Closer to You


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Feb. 7th, 2010 11:39 pm (UTC)

Momus you are not aa narcissist because precisely you do care or have caring toward reading of image of self on another level/ your relationship to your image is actually very demonstrative oent ,this is contrary to trulf imaginary proximitty to the symbolic (that is to the Other). Psychoanalysts still dont get that.
The disappointment of the young girls non gaze reflects your own disappointment to deal with trauma , that is the reaReal rejection of their non sensical formulations .....ocky milk is open..........................
Enda


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Feb. 8th, 2010 12:34 am (UTC)
non anonnon anon non

the whole anon issue has always been hilarious; when you click on half of the LJ people here and look at their blog they have very few if any posts or info about themselves at all! i always wondered why thinking of a clever name and getting an actual LJ account somehow made you a non-anon, particularly when your real name isn't used or any real pictures of yourself.

i mean does it really change things if you can say, "oh, BonSaiPussyKat made a snarky comment, but at least i know who they are..." LOL


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tampopon
tampopon
Mon, Feb. 8th, 2010 03:56 am (UTC)
Re: non anonnon anon non

funny. Yes, no blog...but, out of respect for people writing blogs which I read, I'd like to formulate something of an identity. I like the word tampon, but come on. It needs another po.

As far as knowing anyone goes, even face to face, good luck.

BonSaiPussyKat


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Feb. 8th, 2010 02:53 am (UTC)
off the meter

per·form·ance [ pər fáwrmənss ] (plural per·form·ances)


noun

Definition:

1. artistic presentation: a presentation of an artistic work such as a play or piece of music to an audience


2. manner of functioning: the manner in which something or somebody functions, operates, or behaves
a high-performance car


3. working effectiveness: the way in which somebody does a job, judged by its effectiveness ( often used before a noun )
performance-related pay


4. thing accomplished: something that is carried out or accomplished


5. accomplishment of something: the act of carrying out or accomplishing something such as a task or action


6. display of behavior: a public display of behavior that others find distasteful, e.g. an angry outburst that causes embarrassment ( informal )


7. linguistics language produced: the language that a speaker or writer actually produces, as distinct from his or her understanding of the language.
See also competence (sense 3) parolen (sense 5)


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count_vronsky
count_vronsky
Mon, Feb. 8th, 2010 04:06 am (UTC)




Edited at 2010-02-08 04:33 am (UTC)


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Feb. 8th, 2010 06:49 am (UTC)

I predict you'll last about two weeks before you go into attention-withdrawal and start blogging again.


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staryu
staryu
staryu
Mon, Feb. 8th, 2010 07:27 am (UTC)

if you don't love yourself, why should anyone else love you? .. this should be everyone's mantra. i personally find people with low self esteem (or those who lack confidence in general) to be incredibly irritating, because they tend to be difficult people. they are excessively aloof, refuse to return phone calls, have 1001 neuroses and create idiotic rules.. a healthy amount of narcissism is important, if you ask me, and should not be confused with egotism.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Feb. 8th, 2010 02:06 pm (UTC)

I've never understood what on Earth people were talking about when they say this (you have to love yourself before other can love you). It's one of the most incomprehensible platitudes I've ever encountered.

What exactly do you do to love yourself? I suppose I can understand self-hate and self-absorption, but if you're cured of those then it seems to me that surely you don't even have to think about yourself particularly, much less go around loving yourself.

Well, it doesn't matter. It's just when people say this to me that I find irritating, they can go and love themselves as much as they like. I just find it to be gibberish.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Feb. 8th, 2010 09:56 am (UTC)
Bubble e Go!

Hello Momus.

Wondered what your thoughts were on this film which expresses nostalgia towards the bubble era?




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realrealgone
realrealgone
realrealgone
Mon, Feb. 8th, 2010 11:17 am (UTC)

wish Hisae well from us!


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Feb. 8th, 2010 11:03 pm (UTC)

I would pay to see you karaoke Prince, I really would. And - it's fine if you love you, because we all do too. I came here for the architecture, mainly, and the art and design entries, and the general LOHAS vibe - but what I've stayed for is this kind of thing: the pictures, the travelogs, the personal stuff, the endearingly daft mixture of brilliance / silliness / benign shamelessness. You, in short. I kind of want to kick you for being so goddamn irreplaceable. When you go, I'll be thrown back on art magazines with only the occasional tiny, apologetic, carefully non-libellous bits of snark (hello, Icon), or the odd holding-it-at-arm's-length flick through whatever pompous hipster-student blog happens to mention stuff that I'm interested in. And after this blog, how dry a cinder they will be. I could weep. Nearly had a sniffle just now, watching you doing Brel on youtube. Don't go away, don't go away, don't leave.


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