I Pass The Lasch Test


I feared what I would find between the covers of The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations, Christopher Lasch's classic 1979 indictment of America, and while his criticism of both American style capitalism and the progressive liberal agenda of replacing the traditions and hegemony of the nuclear family with that of the state and government bureaucracy certainly still rings true, I was more concerned with falling into the category of a "pathological narcissist" and then having to stop writing this blog to treat the condition, but apparently I don't fit his definition at all-- he sees the dissolution of traditional values, awareness of others, and civic mindedness a result of "fascination with fame and celebrity, the fear of competition, the inability to suspend disbelief, the shallowness and transitory quality of personal relations, and the horror of the death" and, first, I don't have any sort of fascination with fame and celebrity-- in fact the reverse is true-- and I certainly love competition for its own sake and continue to compete for absolutely no reason (his chapter The Degradation of Sport is worth reading as a stand alone . . . he explains antithetical it is for sports have ulterior "character building" purposes, when actually-- as Heywood Hale Broun succinctly put it-- "sports don't build character-- they reveal it" and so they have a deeper significance than teaching kids to get along with their peers) and I don't make transitory friendships (nor do I have that ability, as I make a terrible first impression, and a pretty lousy second, third, and fourth impression as well) and I don't see too much horror in death and aging, as my mental age indicates . . . and even though I'm in the clear, I still highly recommend this book: Lasch is conservative in respects to what we have lost as a culture, but he lambastes both liberals and conservatives in how they have attempted to combat this, and his prose is oddly prescient, and reminiscent of Marshall McLuhan-- full of sentences like these: "Modern life is so thoroughly mediated mediated by electronic images that we cannot help responding to others as if their actions-- and our own-- were being recorded and simultaneously transmitted to an unseen audience or stored up for close scrutiny at some later time" and "What unifies their actions is the need to promote and defend the system of corporate capitalism from which they-- the managers and professionals who operate the system-- derive most of the benefits . . . the needs of the system shape policy and set the permissible limits of public debate; most of us can see the system but not the class that administers it and monopolizes the wealth it creates."

7 comments:

zman said...

I hoped you would find a salamander twixt the covers of Lasch's book.

Dave said...

i read karel capek for that.

Igor said...

So this is funny. Dave I co-wrote a few screenplays together, the first of which was a movie that revolved around rugby. (We called it Invictus . . . no, not really.) And when Dave was writing the intro scene he included a quote as the first image on screen. This quote about sports revealing character, not building it.

In the script, Dave attributed the quote to Heywood Hale Broun, someone I'd never heard of. I looked it up, and he was right. A lot of people had apparently associated it with John Wooden, but if Wooden said it, he was borrowing it. I learned something from Dave that day, and not something completely bizarre and useless.

That was 1998. Now, 14 years later, Dave remembers the adage but has fallen into the trap of giving it to the Wizard of Westwood. Did he just get tired of explaining the true originator and fall in with the masses?

Dave said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave said...

completely forgot the true originator and relied on the internet. i think the important number there is 14 years later . . . i can't remember anything from 14 years ago, let alone heywood hale broun. at least i didn't attribute it to vince lombardi.

Al DePantsdowno said...

The only thing I got from this sentence is that you are not good at making friends. The rest was a snooze. I just finished Unbroken. Give me more recommendations like that.

Dave said...

unbroken was awesoem and far more entertaining than this book. i just finished "the hunger games," which was a blast to read-- all plot.

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