Given two assumptions:
- Narcissism is not extreme self-love, but rather, extreme self-preoccupation in the absolute sense, i.e. encompassing both "positive" delusions like egomania and "negative delusions like self-loathing (as The Last Psychiatrist says);
- Narcissism is our generational pathology (TLP again, following Christopher Lasch);
One could argue that the narcissist's inability to attain happiness comes down to his inability to experience love. And that, his inability to experience love, in turn, comes down to his basic contempt for those who would attempt to love him.
Disclaimer: I didn't read the latest New Yorker cover story, "Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage?." Actually, I skimmed it—so you don't have to. Skimming, as it turns out, more than sufficed to confirm all of my original suspicions about the piece, and about articles of this ilk in general.
For one, that the liberal media just loves to pass off its half-assed anecdotal e-mail journalism as Sociology with a capital "S."
Secondly, I kept coming back to that famous Fran Lebowitz line about happiness: "We live in a world where people think happiness is a condition, but it's not; it's a sensation." The obsession with "happier" marriages does violence to the reality that relationships are work and that people won't always be happy. Of course, being in love is a wonderful state, perhaps, the best, most special, most spiritually fortifying state known to man. But also, loving someone isn't all holding hands and walks in the park, it's being there in the depressing, mundane and inconvenient moments that you didn't sign up for.
Indoctrinated by the relentless, repressive optimism of the Protestant work ethic, Americans don't understand that in order to truly appreciate happiness, you must fully know sadness; and in order to be truly sexy or beautiful, you must have a certain capacity for ugliness that brings your handsome features and charming qualities into sharp relief. This is why conventionally attractive people are widely palatable (i.e. "conventional"), but very seldom sexy or beautiful. Just think of Taylor Swift or Kendall Jenner, both youthful, pretty, leggy, and woefully unmemorable. Or, consider the mystifying success of Brad Pitt, who is a mediocre actor in addition to being a sorry male specimen, whereas his so-called doppelganger, Benicio del Toro, is not only a stellar actor but also incredibly attractive, in a louche, rakish way.
Art, on its own, is powerless to change political realities.
Earlier this week, the video artist and Artforum darling Hannah Black penned an open letter protesting the inclusion of a 2016 Dana Schutz painting in the 2017 Whitney Biennial. Titled “Open Casket,” it depicts the dead body of Emmett Till, a teenager who was tortured and lynched after being falsely accused of flirting with a white woman in 1955 Mississippi. (His mother, Mamie Till, held an open casket funeral for him, so the whole world could come face to face with the horrors of American racism, hence the title of the work.) A dark episode in the nation’s history, it is a reminder, seven decades on, just how little things have changed.
Some unsolicited thoughts on the Milo controversy:
1. The total collapse of entertainment and politics into one another—i.e. The fact that the political arena is now under the umbrella of the entertainment industry as Fran Lebowitz said last Monday in conversation at New York Live Arts—means that we can no longer differentiate between POLITICIANS and ENTERTAINERS. It almost seems silly to mention in hindsight, but we saw this with the cult of Obama, who was “charming” and “adorable” and did things “like a boss,” never mind his merits as a statesman and his hand in paving the way for the Trump Administration, as well as the trickle-down cults of political heartthrobs Cory Booker and Justin Trudeau. (To paraphrase Fran again: politicians aren’t here to entertain you nor are you here to provide an audience for politicians. Their job is to represent your constituency.)