Eating My Fabulous Fortune

November 17, 2011

In the Occupy Wall Street movement It may be that we’re witnessing an awakening of ordinary folks to the deleterious effect of narcissism in the world which has reached global proportions.

Narcissism, of course, is nothing new; it’s woven into the fabric of human stuff. If you run in human circles as most of us do you’re sure to run into a narcissist.

“Much woe flows from the misapprehension of a narcissist,” Roshi Bob says, which is no mystery when you consider the historical power of narcissism over conviviality and common sense. When a political system is gorged with self-interested money-grubbers who think they’re it you end up with a rude, crude and dirty world, haute couture notwithstanding.

A narcissist always breaks things down to matters of us and them: the Other vs. Me; Me vs. Nature. Conveniently disconnecting one’s self from the machine of which one is a part is a hallmark of narcissism. But while this may not have been globally life-threatening in the past, it’s not workable anymore.

Obviously, when there were fewer humans there were necessarily fewer and less destructive narcissists; given that their relative power to do widespread damage was limited by their numbers the scope of pillage, rape and ruin by narcissists was rather narrow; it was mostly personal, familial or tribal. As the world got bigger and things got more complex it became a state to state thing. It has now gone global. Here at home, in the fabulous free-market center of self-love, narcissism has led to economic disaster; farther afield narcissism is a full-blown planetary plague.

Polishing each other’s apple in the interest of self-interest, narcissists have become a petite but astronomically menacing power bloc with a long tradition. The most ancient known narcissist (of several religious traditions) was the biblical Cain.

The story goes that Adam and Eve’s first son, Cain, murdered his brother Abel in a fit of narcissistic pique. Murderers are narcissists to the core —bottom line: I-me-mine vs. you and yours. Cain over the centuries developed a spectacular following that  pushes the boundaries of religious tradition and runs rampant in the world. It has found its way into the nooks and crannies of the human psyche, the granite sepulchers of government, and the skyscraping glass coffins of corporations. If you know anything about homicide and it’s state sanctioned version: war; or its corporate manifestations: contract mercenaries and mercenary pollution, you know what I mean.

Beyond the more palpable link between narcissists and violence there’s also a not-often considered (but fundamental) connection between the accumulation of wealth and narcissism. What’s worse, my guess is that narcissism is 99% short-sighted. That level of myopia in those with such concentrated economic clout creates an oddly inverse condition in the relationship Us vs. Them —to wit: being 99% short-sighted they are the notorious 1% (the slice of the country’s population that controls most of the nation’s wealth) and may be considered to represent pure, distilled, lethal narcissism.

The inordinate self-love of narcissism, according to a definition posted on the Mayo Clinic website is a “…personality disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration … (they) believe they’re superior to others and have little regard for other people’s feelings…”

In this context my autonomic image system immediately calls up the head of Donald Trump who, in his person, is the infamous 1% in spades —with his name plastered coast to coast upon America’s tackiest architecture. Fortunately Trump’s hair gives him away. It’s a semi-transparent shroud over the true nature of his pate: a desolation, a desert of virtually useless follicles who imagine themselves to be significant. Trump is the face of the narcissism that is driving the United States and the globe into the ground.

Of course anybody who has anything is (relative to those who have nothing) a narcissist to some extent, but the wealthy elite of the USA and the planet have managed to elevate a socially destructive personal trait to a state of quasi-holiness. They’ve managed —up till now— to not only corral most of the nation’s wealth in the vaults of their own fists but to have those they’ve robbed bow to their cleverness. They’ve played the hope of the American Dream (the hope of too many Americans to become filthy rich narcissists themselves) against a gullible middle class who not only dreams but (necessarily) sleeps. How else do you explain the Tea Party?

In the tradition of fabulous ju-jitsu adepts (like Uma Thurmond’s eye-plucking Bill-killer) the top money-grubbers of the country have made their fortunes on the absurd idea that sequestering more wealth into fewer hands (theirs) provides a spring board for the terminally credulous to join the club of top ranking narcissists. But the terminally credulous are finally beginning to realize that when all is said and done they are spring boarding into an empty pool.

by Jim Culleny
11/17/11

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