Notwithstanding his occasional illusions of omnipotence, the narcissist depends on others to validate his self-esteem. He cannot live without an admiring audience. His apparent freedom from family ties and institutional constraints does not free him to stand alone or to glory in his individuality. On the contrary, it contributes to his insecurity, which he can overcome only by seeing his “grandiose self” reflected in the attention of others, or by attaching himself to those who radiate celebrity, power and charisma. For the narcissist, the world is a mirror, whereas the rugged individualist saw it as an empty wilderness to be shaped to his own design.
Christopher Lasch – The Culture of Narcissism
Christopher Lasch was a writer and cultural critic, who is best known for his 1979 best-seller, The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations. In this book, Christopher Lasch diagnoses a social pathology in American life where “the American left had played into the hands of corporations, which find it all too easy to exploit a radicalism that equates liberation with hedonistic self-indulgence and freedom from family ties” and where modern life had become an “enormous echo chamber, a hall of mirrors.” Decades later, whether we are talking about Donald Trump or influencers on social media, Lasch’s critique still feels prescient. Yet this feeling of prescience invites crude interpretations. As Lasch himself notes in his following book The Minimal Self, “Narcissism is a difficult idea that looks easy—a good recipe for confusion”. Countering this confusion, Shalon van Tine and C. Derick Varn’s rigorous and impressive research returns to Christopher Lasch’s entire oeuvre and situated his critique alongside his life-long critical thought.
C. Derick Varn is a teacher, poet, and podcaster. His video channel, Varn Vlog, can be found here.
Shalon van Tine is a Ph.D. candidate in American cultural history at Ohio University and an adjunct professor at University of Maryland Global Campus. Her website can be found here.
Derick and Shalon are co-writing a book on Christopher Lasch.
This session will be run as part of the Exploding Appendix Avant-garde Art Practice and Research Group’s meetup which happens every three weeks. The sessions are free and open to everyone. No prior knowledge of the subject matter is needed, but if people are interested, further reading and listening can be found here:
Christopher Lasch’s books: The American Liberals and the Russian Revolution (1962), The New Radicalism in America 1889-1963: The Intellectual As a Social Type (1965), The Agony of the American Left (1969), The World of Nations(1973),Haven in a Heartless World: The Family Besieged (1977), The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations (1979), The Minimal Self: Psychic Survival in Troubled Times (1984), The True and Only Heaven: Progress and Its Critics (1991), The Revolt of the Elites: And the Betrayal of Democracy (1994), Women and the Common Life: Love, Marriage, and Feminism (1997).
This session will take place both online via Zoom and in person at The Artist Residence, Brighton, UK. The Artists Residence can be found on 33 Regency Square, Brighton, BN1 2GG. Join us in Venue from 7pm and online from 730pm. To book a free place in the venue, click here. For any questions please message me at email@example.com
This session will be run by Bradley Tuck and take place on the 19th July 2022 from 19:30 – 22:30 (UK time). If you have any questions please message me at firstname.lastname@example.org