March 12, 2009

What Was The Matrix?

What are you telling me, that I can dodge bullets?

I'm telling you that when you're ready, you won't have to.

(Part 1 here: An Action Movie Fairy Tale)

No, no, it doesn't end like this.  Not like this. [she dies.]

With every passing day, you realize you will not fight bad guys, not join the CIA, not be in a band, not throw the winning touchdown. 

You will not know kung fu.

Your body sickeningly, boringly confirms it.  You breathe harder when you run.  You don't run anyway.  Hair missing, appearing.   

Women your age are better looking than men your age.  Wait, wait, what?

Hopes and dreams are now only dreams.  You start to care about office politics because nothing else is happening.  Clothes matter more because very little else does.

Drinking helps.  You don't know why, you aren't an alcoholic, but you need it.

"I will never be in love."  You love the sister you've married, but there's no hunger, no need.  There never really was.  This was supposed to be temporary until... she came along.  The woman with the dark hair tied loosely in a bun, wearing a scarf, glasses, stunningly beautiful (no one had noticed her but you, of course)-- lost-- needing to be saved---

But wait, you're still young.  Ish. You still have some time-- something could still happen.

What modern middle aged narcissist wants is to find a way to put one foot in reality and keep one foot in fantasy.  A solution that lets him keep fighting the traffic twice a day.  Providing just enough lack of self-awareness that he doesn't reach for a bazooka and blow his brains out. (If only he had even energy for that.)  To have just enough hope that one day the fantasies could come true that he keeps on going.  That a 30 something year old man could suddenly know kung fu.

Fortunately, we find ourselves at the tenth anniversary of just such a solution.

The Matrix: the natural, necessary end to the action movie generation, temporarily postponing  a tripling of the suicide rate.

What Is The Matrix?

No one can be told what the Matrix is.  You have to see it for yourself.

The Schizotypal State

It wasn't supposed to be like this.  By this age, things were supposed to have happened for you.  You were supposed to be somebody.  Someone was supposed to have fallen in love with you.

What is called the "world" doesn't seem like what you thought it would be.... there's a lack of emotional connection; a lack of highs and lows, of change, of either growth or regression.  No energy.  There's no real love.  Instead is trudging, boredom.... ennui.   There's nothing happening in your life; yet you feel like it's out of control.

Neo:  I don't like the idea that I'm not in control of my life.
Morpheus: I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you're here. You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad...

You walk through life diligently performing the tasks assigned to you, automatically.  But always the thousand yard stare, the tiniest expectation that it is all about to change.  More than fantasy but less than delusion, you hold active the remote probability that you are more than your current appearance. You're not unfinished, you're undiscovered. 

matrix neo alone.jpg

If, in the preposterous situation of alien invasion or talent scout or ninja attack, you'd know exactly what to do.  You'd be able to do it.

It seems that you've been living two lives. One life, you're Thomas A. Anderson, program writer for a respectable software company. You have a social security number, pay your taxes, and you help your landlady carry out her garbage. The other life... where you go by the alias "Neo"...  One of these lives has a future, and one of them does not.

It is the reverse of Nausea, it's Constipation.  You have a completely defined, detailed identity, but it never got a chance to come out.  The world wouldn't cooperate.  The problem is the world.

You know you don't really know kung fu.  You know ninjas aren't going to attack.  But you know a secret: that the impossible thing is a ninja attack, not that you would know kung fu if ninjas attacked. In a reality which would permit the existence of a ninja attack, it is inevitable that it would allow you to know kung fu.

What kind of a reality is it that blocks impossible scenarios,  but treats them as prerequisites? 

Boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead... only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Boy: Then you'll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.

matrix spoon.jpg

A reality that is still, partially, under your influence.

The Anchors of the Schizotypal State

You say: but no one seriously believes reality is fake, that we're living in a computer.  Correct; but the issue isn't the reality of reality, but under what circumstances would reality change for you?  What are the necessary requirements for you to suddenly know kung fu?

God is one.  God lets the world run as it is, but if ninjas attacked, God would make sure you'd know kung fu.  But there's no religion here, you don't need to go to church for this, you just need to believe that God is watching out for you.  This is why organized religion is in serious decline.   There's no way a Catholic God will upload kung fu when you need it.  Access to that kind of transcendent knowledge requires Buddhism, or agnosticism.  It requires you not to know who He is, so you can make Him into whatever you need Him to be.

You're not going to subject yourself to His rules; you're going to subject Him to yours.

Do you remember the movies that had the Devil as the bad guy?  The hero never had special powers; he had to perfectly execute Catholic rituals or incantations that exist independent of himself in order to stop the Devil.  That was back when we still believed in something outside of ourselves.  They don't make those movies anymore.

Credit is another one.  No, credit won't change reality, but credit solidifies your identity in preparation for a change in reality.    Credit says: buy this coat, it signifies that you could know kung fu.

Girlfriends are another.  Girlfriends say: I pretend to believe you when you say you know kung fu, because I love you.  The boyfriend says, not hearing anything she said:   I'll stay with you until either I know kung fu; or you realize I don't really know kung fu, and my shame makes me hate you.  What does it matter?  None of this is the real thing anyway.

Some Lessons of The Matrix

1. Information Is Knowledge.

After a gunbattle, Trinity and Neo need to fly a chopper.

Neo: Can you fly that thing?
Trinity: Not yet.   [Dials a phone.] Tank, I need a pilot program for a B212 helicopter.

Poof-- she now knows how to fly a chopper.

Fine: how did she even know that it was a B212 helicopter?

Presumably she learned it "on the job."  But knowing that fact is pointless: none of it is real anyway, and Tank "sees" everything, he would know what programs to upload, she could simply say, "I need to fly that thing over there."

It's the accumulation of trivia, the same as a guy who learns all the different kinds of handguns but never shoots one;  they know minute details of rock music, when something was performed, who produced it-- but never played an instrument.  It is the substitution of information, easily acquired, for knowledge.  Knowing about it makes you think you are so much closer to knowing it.  But, as any virgin on the internet will know, knowing about and knowing are different things.

2. Love Is Waiting For You To Become.

Trinity loves Neo, even before he becomes The One.  She's waited her whole life for him.  He doesn't (yet) know kung fu, but she knows he will.  And she does know kung fu-- and chooses him, saves him.  That's love.

But Neo doesn't return the love until he becomes who he has always known he is.  He has to know kung fu first.

Only then can could someone really love him.

3. Self-Identification Transcends All.

Agent Smith has Neo ("Mr. Anderson") in a chokehold on the train tracks; the subway speeds towards them.  Agent Smith is-- satisfied. 

Hear that, Mr. Anderson?  That is the sound of inevitability.  It is the sound of your death.  Good bye, Mr. Anderson.

Agent Smith has it figured right:  Anderson's life was a pointless struggle.  All the dreaming and all the expectation are doomed to end in failure, in death.

Faced with the absurdity and unintelligibility of life, but the inevitability of its end, there is only one answer that today's man-- the narcissist-- can give that makes his life meaningful, and he gives it:

My name is Neo.


That's all he needs to say to escape the inevitable.

II.  It's Just A Movie 

Someone says: oh, come on.  There's no real philosophy in The Matrix, it's homeopathic doses of Kant and Derrida.

HA!   What are you, German?  No one's read Kant, what the hell is the matter with you?   No one's even read A Christmas Carol.  There was more philosophy in those two hours than people had passed in a bookstore over their entire lives.

If you're 50, you say: really?  a movie is that powerful that it can affect the consciousness of people who didn't even like it?

I know, I know, such power is given only to the Beatles...  or Pink Floyd...  or the Dead... or On The Road.  All these things are the same.  They all say: stay young with me as your life washes away beneath you.

"But I didn't even see the stupid movie!"  Look around: they did.  It's enough.   Or did you buy an engagement ring because of three thousand years of tradition?

III.  Narcissism Beats Reality, Again.

The Matrix was the articulated solution to a growing existential crisis.  It gave us hope: "Unless there's solid reason not to, I'm just going to allow the possibility that there's more to reality than what I see, and so there may be a valid reason to hope that my real life will kick in any time.  And then someone will love me."

I know kung fu.
"No, but when I need to, I will."

The Matrix could have carried us, could have kept the Schizotypal state active, maybe for another ten years.  It gave Narcissism the strength to look reality in the face and say, "my identity is bigger than you, I don't care what you do, if I needed to, I could control you."

Two years after The Matrix, reality responded.


Reality responded? Are you ... (Below threshold)

March 12, 2009 7:28 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Reality responded? Are you referring to the terrorist attacks of September 11th?

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Do you sometimes worry that... (Below threshold)

March 12, 2009 9:19 PM | Posted by Fargo: | Reply

Do you sometimes worry that you're falling into the hammer/nail trap? That old chestnut of "when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail".

Not that I'm saying you're wrong or anything. I mean, I recall how strongly I enjoyed that movie, along with others, and realize how messed up I really am. It would be putting the cart before the horse to blame the movie though; I identified with it, to that extent, because I'm messed up, not the other way around. So it seems to me anyway. Sure, there's reinforcement of a way of thinking there, but it's not like a whole pattern can be formatted across the brain in one fell swoop.

Of course the stench of the two sequels has damaged my ability to watch the first one. I made excuses for the second, that's how bad I was, but that third was entirely unjustifiable. Collapsed the ol' waveform right down into a stinky piece of fridge leavings.

People that give me pause are those that rave about Shoot 'Em Up and similar. I mean, seriously?

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Wow. Just wow.... (Below threshold)

March 13, 2009 12:20 AM | Posted by Room 101: | Reply

Wow. Just wow.

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Damn...that was good... (Below threshold)

March 13, 2009 12:32 AM | Posted by JeffinVa: | Reply

Damn...that was good

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It's a nice story, but do y... (Below threshold)

March 13, 2009 12:33 AM | Posted by Jason: | Reply

It's a nice story, but do you have any evidence for it? I mean, are sales of motorcycles and cheap guitars down? Have we no more garage bands? Have the corner dojos all closed their doors for lack of customers? With the exception of flying helicopters, which is prohibitively expensive, none of the pursuits you mention is particularly exotic. Lots of people indulge in them. (Oh, I guess one of my friends does own his own plane, even if it is older than he is, so even flying isn't that unusual.) I just got back from the shooting range myself. This is not a movie, it's not a fantasy, it's what I do because I live in a wealthy country that affords me more money than I absolutely need to stay clothed and fed, with time left over. Fantasizing about it would be redundant when the opportunities are so readily available.

I mean, you'd have to deliberately avoid them. Maybe you're right. Maybe there are people going to that effort because they prefer vague dissatisfaction with their lives to an adrenaline rush or some free pussy, but I think we'd see it in sales figures of Suzuki Hayabusas and Fender guitars.

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We are all narcissists now.... (Below threshold)

March 13, 2009 2:15 AM | Posted by Whatever: | Reply

We are all narcissists now.

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Like, wow. Wowser. On the... (Below threshold)

March 13, 2009 2:40 AM | Posted by David Johnson: | Reply

Like, wow. Wowser. On the 10th year anniversary of the 136th most popular US release movie .... simply stunning. Revelatory. Past its expiration date.

The pop oeuvre only works if the pop is current ... otherwise ... no fizz. Or worse ... goes stale, smells like teen spirit (1991) or something even worse.

Although 9-11 occurred approximately 2.5 years later ... it might fit. A better fit was our ridiculous, preening presidential peacock, installed by a star court of 9 elites intent upon overriding a state's own supreme court which ruled for a mandatory recount. Real life is just too crazy mad, yo. Too edgy for pop culture. That's why Vonnegut was much better at this game. And so it goes ....

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Where does holding the delu... (Below threshold)

March 13, 2009 8:07 AM | Posted by Y.T.: | Reply

Where does holding the delusion that your life is important end and narcissism begin?

Am I really a narcissist if I choose my identity, but then act in line with that identity because it represents who I want to be?

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Another way of looking at i... (Below threshold)

March 13, 2009 9:25 AM | Posted by PCD: | Reply

Another way of looking at it from an unqualified internet poster would be to say that the whole thing is metaphor. It's really about taking control of your mind as best as you can and winning those inner battles. The type of thing a psychiatrist is supposed to help you with.

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On the self-identification ... (Below threshold)

March 13, 2009 11:11 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

On the self-identification is all thing, I think you have overemphasized the self-identification as against the correction element.

"Agent Smith has it figured right: Anderson's life was a pointless struggle. All the dreaming and all the expectation are doomed to end in failure, in death."

Agent Smith is the devil. Anderson is still alive. Only he's not Anderson. He never was Anderson. Anderson is who Agent Smith says he is. Being Anderson, the whole set-up, is a scam, a lie. It's real in a sense, like a video game really has electrons moving around creating an image and responding to your inputs, but it's also fake; it's not the battle, or job, or scene but just an image of one. The protagonist is really, by the grace of the movie, Neo.

Now, to correct the devil is the first incantation, and it is, in fact, outside of ourselves, even where it refers to our name. 'But the serpent said to the woman: "You certainly will not die! No, God knows well the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad." The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it...." Fail. And then of course, in contrast, there is Jesus in the desert correcting the Tempter.

"Hear that, Mr. Anderson? That is the sound of inevitability. It is the sound of your death. Good bye, Mr. Anderson."

Hear that? Well, of course, he has the sense of hearing, or the illusion-provided sense of hearing. When he's ready, he won't have to dodge trains, but he's not there yet.

Mr. Anderson? Ah-ha! Now that can be refuted! And so Neo corrects Smith by word.

Inevitability. This can only be refuted by deed, which Neo promptly performs, now that he's getting there, truth and incantation-wise. This is the important point. Rather than just self-identifying, he has to take action, still, yet, within the Agent Smith/Devil illusion-world; he still has to break the grip and jump out of the way, which of course he can do thanks to the (ineffable?) power he gains by refuting Agent Smith/the Devil with the truth about his name. Voila!

Agent Smith/the Devil, has it figured wrong. His victim's lives are not pointless struggles. All his scheming and programming and image making are doomed to end in failure, as they seek to hide the truth, to put a veil of Man's eyes.

"Faced with the absurdity and unintelligibility of life, but the inevitability of its end, there is only one answer that today's man-- the narcissist-- can give that makes his life meaningful, and he gives it:"

It's only absurd and unintelligible on Agent Smith/the Devil's terms, and IT'S END IS ONLY INEVITABLE on Agent Smith/the Devil's terms. On the tempter's terms, yes, why not be a narcissist, why not go crazy, why not sin? But the truth will set you free, free to find meaning. "Set me like a seal upon thy heart, love is as strong as death."

"That's all he needs to say to escape the inevitable."

Well, er, yeah. That and jumping out of the way of the train because he's still somewhat mixed up and connected to the illusion of the illusion world. Why not? He's in a pretend-video game world anyway that is trying to trick him (strictly speaking, his mind) into thinking the train is real and it will really crush his body causing his death, inevitably. The most important fight therefore is to maintain control over his mind, and focus it on the truth, even within this illusion-world. That's the start point. Getting his mind right, as it were.

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But what movie can't be vie... (Below threshold)

March 13, 2009 11:46 AM | Posted by Joseph Bergevin: | Reply

But what movie can't be viewed as escapist and elevating its protagonist? Star Wars follows the same course - kid bored with life finds out he's important. Joe vs the Volcano, It's A Wonderful Life, Terminator, The Wizard of Oz, etc.

I struggle with the notion that there is a "proper" outlook and imagination people should have. Dreaming of being a kung-fu hero is kind of sad, but restricting one's dreams to quotidian matters is equally sad. There is some inner spark or drive that has impelled humans to look beyond their surroundings and imagine more. It's driven us from survival to prosperity. Does it always follow that unrealistic dreams lead to dissatisfaction and immaturity? Is the main problem people's inability to accurately assess the (im)plausibility of their goals?

Unfortunately, if you're right about America narcissising, you're doomed to be a Cassandra whose insight is seen as irrelevant. We'll keep reading, though. :)

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NARCISSISM! NARCISSISM! N... (Below threshold)

March 13, 2009 8:33 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply


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As I rapidly approach thirt... (Below threshold)

March 13, 2009 10:43 PM | Posted by Brad: | Reply

As I rapidly approach thirty-two, I can't help but wonder to what extent I'm still not taking chances -- for fear that doing so might reveal that I do not, in fact have Kung-Fu waiting in the wings for me. I worry about this enough that I really, really, want to know if you have a recommended course of action for wannabe ex-narcissists...

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I've been wondering if life... (Below threshold)

March 14, 2009 3:27 PM | Posted by Nancy Lebovitz: | Reply

I've been wondering if life for most men is drabber than is good for them. I don't know what a technological society which made more room for meaning and adventure for men would look like, but I wonder if The Matrix is like someone who's starving dreaming about banquets when what they need is enough food.

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Good stuff.I do no... (Below threshold)

March 14, 2009 4:26 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Good stuff.

I do not think it is narcissistic to want be significant or relevant or special, that’s human nature. It becomes narcissistic when you fail to realize that everyone else has those same thoughts, dreams and desires for themselves as well and they are not necessarily reading from your script.

Aside from that:

I think popular fiction, especially hero/action fiction, in this country has traditionally followed the script of the passive, as opposed to active, hero. In other words, things happen to them as opposed to things happening because of them. They are not initiators, they are responders. I think this is largely where the disconnect comes in.

The 1940's Private Detective is usually just sitting in his office, unshaven, perhaps half drunk even, when “the most beautiful dame he’s ever laid eyes on walks in, and brings with her a whole barrel of trouble.”

Action heroes are almost always just regular working stiffs, going about their mundane business in the cubicle or the rock quarry or at the company Christmas party or the science lab maybe picking up dry cleaning or standing in line at the bank.

They are willing participants in THE SYSTEM. At some point events take place, outside of any actions on their part, which force them to come to terms with their heroic destiny.

There are initiators in action movies, people who dictate the course of events, plan ahead, take aggressive as opposed to responsive actions, formulate strategies with specific goals, etc. but these characters are almost always CRIMINALS. They are not willing participants in THE SYSTEM. They want more for themselves, and they are willing to go after it aggressively and creatively, this makes them VILLIANS.

But real life is completely the opposite. Things rarely happen “to you”, not even a good parking space at the grocery store.

The mafia is not going to target you for death because you witnessed a murder, a mutant spider is not going to bite you in science class, bank robbers are not going to hold up the bank and take you hostage, and hot chicks are NOT going to ask you for help (unless its in the form of loan.)

So just as we had generations of young women “waiting for their prince to arrive and sweep them off their feet” we now have millions of young to middle aged men waiting to be thrust into the adventure that will prove to all their uniqueness, their prowess, their worth.

It’s conditioning.

Get in line, go along with the system, don’t make waves, sit in your recliner and watch TV, drink heavily, medicate yourself, grow old, buy a fast car, a Harley, a gun, a leather jacket, etc. etc.

Don’t worry, when the time comes, we’ll let you know. In the meantime, stay low, don’t protest or try or think outside the box or try to get more for yourself or change your circumstance, that’s what the bad guys do.

Sit tight, we’ll get back to you. In the meantime heres some really cool video games and rap music to tide you over.

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Right on, here here! Anon a... (Below threshold)

March 14, 2009 5:46 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Christopher: | Reply

Right on, here here! Anon at 4:26.

Also, you sound like Neal Stephenson from Anathem:

"...Thousands of years ago, the work that people did had been broken down into jobs that were the same every day, in organizations where people were in-terchangeable parts. All of the story had been bled out of their lives. That was how it had to be; it was how you got a productive economy. But it would be easy to see a will at work behind this: not exactly an evil will, but a selfish will. The people who’d made the system thus were jealous, not of money and not of power but of story. If their employees came home at day’s end with interesting stories to tell, it meant that something had gone wrong: a blackout, a strike, a spree killing. The Powers That Be would not suffer others to be in stories of their own unless they were fake stories that had been made up to motivate them. People who couldn’t live without story had been driven into the concents or into jobs like Yul’s. All others had to look somewhere outside of work for a feeling that they were part of a story, which I guessed was why Saeculars were so concerned with sports, and with religion. How else could you see yourself as part of an adventure? Something with a beginning, middle, and end in which you played a significant part?...."

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1. We are all different. ... (Below threshold)

March 15, 2009 9:01 AM | Posted by Dano: | Reply

1. We are all different.

2. I'm glad this doctor is not in denial.

3. Many people, including me, have a hard time making it through
the day. Narcissism seems like a rich man's pursuit.

4. What bothers me about most Doctors is this; We know
you hate most of your patients. Do you actually think your
patients can't read your disgust? If most doctors worked
one year in construction(apprentice), you would never
complain about your profession. It would be more therapeutic
than any seminar, or therapy. Most of you are too narcissistic
to give it a try though.

5. Your more cynical than me, but in a different way. I
will read your blog more often. You probably hate advise,
but your thoughts are sometimes black and white. Life
is grey, except for some of these pharmaceutical companies,
they are just evil-some.

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Heroes, addictions and rule... (Below threshold)

March 15, 2009 1:34 PM | Posted by Schuyler: | Reply

Heroes, addictions and rules allay fears that we've constructed a fairy-tale world. But those fears can never be entirely erased. And those fears especially haunt the narcissist.

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And when todays Neo realize... (Below threshold)

March 15, 2009 1:47 PM | Posted by mark p.s.2: | Reply

And when todays Neo realizes he will not (magically) know kung fu
From magical medications from Pharma Co.
We get suicide or shooters

I Don't Like Mondays
The Boomtown Rats

The silicon chip inside her head
Gets switched to overload
And nobody's gonna go to school today
She's going to make them stay at home
And daddy doesn't understand it
He always said she was as good as gold.

The female movie is "Titanic" as my blog gets 1000 hits a day from google searchs for a freaking picture of "Titanic" on the blog post.

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Well, I have a question - t... (Below threshold)

March 16, 2009 12:06 PM | Posted by La BellaDonna: | Reply

Well, I have a question - two questions:

1. What, exactly, is "sad" about wanting to know Kung Fu?

2. What, exactly, prevents all these woebegone folks from actually going out and learning Kung Fu - or whatever form interests them? I did it. I didn't become an "expert" - but I did become pretty good. I'd still be doing it if I hadn't broken too much stuff that didn't heal properly. I don't regret the broken bones - I regret no longer doing martial arts. But I did learn - and what I learned comes back to me at unexpected, but useful, moments.

What is there, in fact, to keep them from learning ANYTHING which will give meaning to their lives, whether it's brewing beer or learning calligraphy or running a 10K?

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Never underestimate the pow... (Below threshold)

March 16, 2009 12:33 PM | Posted by Esther: | Reply

Never underestimate the power the human mind uses to delude itself. Great post. I think you're a tad on the pessimistic side, but I agree with you in general. It would be interesting to see some posts about how people who are not narcissists are affected by the narcissists (why should narcissists get all the attention?).

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The point is, holding out h... (Below threshold)

March 16, 2009 3:16 PM | Posted by AK: | Reply

The point is, holding out hope one will someday know kung fu in ones hour of need--without ever having taken lessons. only learns a martial art by taking lessons as part of a community of students.

Another point: When rightly understood, in Buddhism, there is no such thing as something coming from nothing. Everything is produced by a chain of cause and effect.

A person will not know how to use kung fu without having taken lessons and without also, after taking lessons, practicing, regularly.

We need to also re-read the old James Thurber story of Walter Mitty

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"What, exactly, is "sad" ab... (Below threshold)

March 16, 2009 3:23 PM | Posted by Agnes Davis: | Reply

"What, exactly, is "sad" about wanting to know Kung Fu?"

Because even when you know kung fu, or MMA, or boxing, or how to shoot, the ninja attack is still not coming for you to use your skills on. It is even sadder once you do pursue the knowledge, and you lose that delusion that you could hide behind, and know that you will never actually use this skill for what you thought you would.

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that's an interesting analy... (Below threshold)

March 16, 2009 8:57 PM | Posted by nick: | Reply

that's an interesting analysis. I liked the bit about shame turning into hate. but where is the variety? I was hoping to be getting into something new here. narcissism is interesting and at times enveloping, but I feel like your going to become a one trick pony here


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You've written a lot about ... (Below threshold)

March 17, 2009 1:11 AM | Posted by doobiedoo: | Reply

You've written a lot about a contemporary narcissism which seems to be necessarily dependent on liberal individualism, and I don't know if anyone can tell where you're going with it, is it an exploration? sounding death knells? just wanted to have the satisfaction of telling-us-so? It's interesting which ever way, but it would be great to see the thesis expanded beyond projections on contemporary pop culture. Personally I'd love to see it get a bit more historical/philosophical (from my dangerously loose reading, we seem to get subjects and objects from the enlightenment and psychological interiority is a modern phenomena which decants normative values originally oriented by social practices in organic traditions into the liberal individual) also how you relate it to modern pscyhoanalysis with Lacan and Zizek etc.

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Although there absolutely a... (Below threshold)

March 24, 2009 2:28 PM | Posted by La BellaDonna: | Reply

Although there absolutely are women who are narcissists, I just realized that, by and large, women don't have The Matrix. Women have The Fantasy of Being Thin (thank you, Kate Harding!)( For too many women, they will finally have the friends, the job, the boyfriend/husband/marriage of their dreams, they will BE the type of person they want to be - even if that person is diametrically opposed to the person they are currently - once they're thin. Whatever it is that they've wanted, all their lives - to be more outgoing, to be more introspective, to speak five languages, to be a world traveler, to be a domestic goddess - whatever it is, it will magically happen when they're thin. A good many of these women will, in fact, struggle and starve and exercise to the point of pain to actually achieve thinness; some of them (far fewer; there are very, very few women in the U.S., no matter how fat they are now, who have not dieted at some point in their lives) will have never starved and exercised like maniacs; but they are almost always shocked to find out when they have achieved the magical size, that they have NOT become whatever it is they expected to become, once they were thin. A good many of them, instead of thinking that the problem is that their expectations were false/unrealistic, assume the problem is that they're not thin enough - so they start starving and working out even more, in pursuit of the magic. It doesn't occur to them that either the person they are at the moment is an OK person, or that if they really wanted to speak five languages, the best way to do that is to start studying, and that can be done at any size. No, they want the magic.

Ugh. I think I'd rather have The Matrix; it's a less self-destructive delusion.

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La BellaDonna -Uh.... (Below threshold)

March 25, 2009 6:06 PM | Posted, in reply to La BellaDonna's comment, by Jennifer: | Reply

La BellaDonna -

Uh...that's not narcissistic. It's called being obsessed and brain dead. The more obsessed, the more insecure. Unlike these women, narcissists are not looking for magic, they live magic.

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<a href="http://www.rinkwor... (Below threshold)

May 17, 2009 2:04 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Don't forget to laugh. Humanity is depressing and scary, and funny too.

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I don't understand it. Just... (Below threshold)

June 1, 2009 8:37 AM | Posted by Quiark: | Reply

I don't understand it. Just like the other 5 articles I read on this blog. Too unconventional for me :)

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Explanation of the genesis ... (Below threshold)

November 2, 2009 4:25 PM | Posted by jnbower: | Reply

Explanation of the genesis of the Matrix story. It's a metaphor for life's challenges.

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I had this same problem on ... (Below threshold)

April 23, 2013 9:39 PM | Posted by Carlo: | Reply

I had this same problem on my new laptop. Extract this file into C/:programdata. It should work fine then.

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<a href="http://www.cracked... (Below threshold)