Reflecting on the reason(s) for continuing to compose these essays is not an agreeable experience. Narcissism per se may not be specifically included in the list of deadly sins, but desiring to see one’s ideas and associations in print could be classified as a form of pride-seeking, like wearing medals and ribbons adorning the chests of military “heroes” and the inevitably obese and self-satisfied dictators who have succeeded in clawing their ways to the summit of power over others.
Identifying the composition of these essays, and subsequently circulating them among others as a form of self-gratification, it seems reasonable to consider the motivations for engaging in this activity, in other words, why bother? To speculate overmuch on the future of humanity seems unwholesome, and to promote this opinion among others is unkind, for unwelcome knowledge is not conceived as a tasty intellectual idea, but rather as a horror best evaded or ignored. Jeremiah knew that, and the preacher voiced it to the multitudes, unswayed by nay-sayers.
One can consider the ethical consequences of publishing opinions that nobody wants to hear, like being lost and yelling for help in the middle of a forest, but the trees aren’t listening. Instead, they are being relentlessly “harvested”, i.e. chopped down.
It’s not only the publishing of unwanted opinions, but the seeking to share them by promotion and marketing, hiring agents to convince punters to exchange their cash for the privilege of reading about their own impending demise. This sounds ridiculous, but there it is.
The ultimate gain is thus monetary, the overall goal of the publishing business, that of the hired publicist engaged to promote sales, of the bookseller who is often not a book reader, and finally the authors, themselves, compelled by tax authorities to reveal the pittances obtained from this process after all others have taken their cut.
A Roman emperor (Nero? Vespasian? ) was said to have replied to a citizen who complained to him of having to pay for the use of the public toilets, “The money doesn’t smell.”
So there you have it, the love of which was said to be the root of all evil by St. Paul made explicit, and the cause of it individual narcissism, itself a characteristic of the human condition, a built in drive to compete for success, an idea attributable to none other than our old friend Art Schopenhauer, and his concept of the world as will and representation.
Enjoy your summer reading!
June 12, 2021