The Culture of Narcissism
The Culture of Narcissism by Christopher Lasch. 151 pages on all the delusional people who annoy you's place in history. Go!
...And this kind of post is why I posted this book.
Originally Posted by bouncingoffclouds
This is one of the best nonfiction books I've read. I'd recommend it to people who like or need the other political books (both fiction and nonfiction) I've read, and I don't usually read sociological books like this.
I just finished the book. Chapter VIII, on sex, and Chapter IX, on aging, seemed so superficial as to be actually bad, but the author seems to have written a sequel called The Minimal Self largely in response to that. Besides that, this is probably the best sociological complaint book I've read since it has really interesting analyses rather than only listing grievances. You get weapons to fight the narcissists in your life for real with them, unlike Culture of Complaint which talks about basically all of the same problems but only describes them without analyzing them much at all. The infantilization of society under consumerism, the discussion of identifying with celebrity culture, the part about education becoming job training, people getting obsessed with "privilege" to the point of messing everything up by trying to demolish it, and the therapy state were the best parts and this is the only satisfactory treatment I've read of ideas that are otherwise just bandied around.
I do think the author didn't need to be like "Bertolt Brecht and Samuel Beckett are the expression of a sick society. We must go back to Henrik Ibsen." Henrik Ibsen writes about much sicker people than either of those, possibly sicker than absolutely any other playwright ever, so it just comes off as "waaah, my conservative artistic sensibilities were offended by irony and people breaking the fourth wall" (though irony and fourth wall breaking are now overdone.) The criticisms of "late capitalism" also seemed egregious since he didn't provide so much as a vague suggestion of an alternative.
The Culture of Complaint by Robert Hughes
Complaint = Entitlement = Narcissism, really. This is the same type of book on the same subject, but much lighter reading and somewhat different politically.
On a related note, I think it's telling the worst chapters in Culture of Narcissism were on sex and aging, and that's because narcissism is just the antithesis of growing up. No sociological book of complaints is going to provide a magic bullet for growing up, but having a nonfiction analysis or two of the society you're growing up into feels like it helps a lot. I do think it's more than a safety blanket though, because our society doesn't have overt racism, sexism, classism, things like that very much, and instead shifts paternalism onto the target itself by infantilizing them.