Christopher Lasch Quotes


 
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Best 60 Quotes by Christopher Lasch – Page 1 of 2

“Because it equates tradition with prejudice, the left finds itself increasingly unable to converse with ordinary people in their common language”

“I despise the cowardly clinging to life, purely for the sake of life, that seems so deeply ingrained in the American temperament.”

“Man’s collective mastery of nature— even if we could ignore the mounting evidence that this too is largely an illusion— can hardly be expected to confer a sense of confidence and well- being when it coexists with centralizing forces that have deprived individuals of any mastery over the concrete, immediate conditions of their existence. The collective control allegedly conferred by science is an abstraction that has little resonance in everyday life.”

“The best defenses against the terrors of existence are the homely comforts of love, work, and family life, which connect us to a world that is independent of our wishes yet responsive to our needs. It is through love and work, as Freud noted in a characteristically pungent remark, that we exchange crippling emotional conflict for ordinary unhappiness. Love and work enable each of us to explore a small corner of the world and to come to accept it on its own terms. But our society tends either to devalue small comforts or else to expect too much of them. Our standards of "creative, meaningful work" are too exalted to survive disappointment. Our ideal of "true romance" puts an impossible burden on personal relationships. We demand too much of life, too little of ourselves.”

“The capacity for loyalty is stretched too thin when it tries to attach itself to the hypothetical solidarity of the human race.”

“The family is a haven in a heartless world.”

New Radicalism in America Quotes

“THE 1920’S, IT IS SAID, WERE A TIME OF “DISILLUSIONMENT.” Progressivism had failed. The war for democracy had ended in the debacle of Versailles; idealism gave way to “normalcy.” Defeated, intellectuals turned away from reform. Following H. L. Mencken, they now ridiculed “the people,” whom they had once idolized. Many of them fled to Europe. Others cultivated the personal life, transferring their search for salvation from society to the individual. Still others turned to Communism. In the general confusion, only one thing was certain: the old ideals, the old standards, were dead, and liberal democracy was part of the wreckage. Such”

New Radicalism in America

“THE 1920’S, IT IS SAID, WERE A TIME OF “DISILLUSIONMENT.” Progressivism had failed. The war for democracy had ended in the debacle of Versailles; idealism gave way to “normalcy.” Defeated, intellectuals turned away from reform. Following H. L. Mencken, they now ridiculed “the people,” whom they had once idolized. Many of them fled to Europe. Others cultivated the personal life, transferring their search for salvation from society to the individual. Still others turned to Communism. In the general confusion, only one thing was certain: the old ideals, the old standards, were dead, and liberal democracy was part of the wreckage. Such is the standard picture of the twenties; but it is a gross distortion, a caricature, of the period. It has the unfortunate effect, moreover, of isolating the twenties from the rest of American history, of making them seem a mere interval between two periods of reform, and thus of obscuring the continuity between the twenties and the “progressive era” on the one hand and the period of the New Deal on the other. The idea of historical “periods” is misleading in itself. It exercises a subtle tyranny over the historical imagination. Essentially a verbal and pedagogical convenience, it tends to become a principle of historical interpretation as well; and as such it leads people to think of history not as the development of social organisms far too complicated to be depicted in simple linear terms but as a succession of neatly defined epochs, happily corresponding, moreover, to the divisions of the calendar, each century, each decade even, having its own distinctive “spirit of the age.” Thus the Zeitgeist of the twenties, it is assumed, must have been “disillusionment,” just as that of the thirties was reform. The”

New Radicalism in America

The Culture of Narcissism Quotes

“All of us, actors and spectators alike, live surrounded by mirrors.
In them, we seek reassurance of our capacity to captivate or
impress others, anxiously searching out blemishes that might detract
from the appearance we intend to project. The advertising
industry deliberately encourages this preoccupation with appearances.
In the twenties, "the women in ads were constantly observing
themselves, ever self-critical. ... A noticeable proportion
of magazine ads directed at women depicted them looking
into mirrors. . . . Ads of the 1920s were quite explicit about this
narcissistic imperative. They unabashedly used pictures of veiled
nudes, and women in auto-erotic stances to encourage self-comparison
and to remind women of the primacy of their sexuality."
A booklet advertising beauty aids depicted on its cover a nude
with the caption: "Your Masterpiece-Yourself.”

The Culture of Narcissism

“As Susan Sontag observes in her study of photography, “Reality has come to seem more and more like what we are shown by cameras.” Bourgeois families in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Sontag points out, posed for portraits in order to proclaim the family’s status, whereas today the family album of photographs verifies the individual’s existence: the camera helps to weaken the older idea of development as moral education and to promote a more passive idea according to which development consists of passing through the stages of life at the right time and in the right order.”

The Culture of Narcissism

“Cameras and recording machines not only transcribe experience but alter its quality, giving to much of modern life the character of an enormous echo chamber, a hall of mirrors. . . . Modern life is so mediated by electronic images that we cannot help responding to others as if their actions—and our own—were being recorded and simultaneously transmitted to an unseen audience or stored up for close scrutiny at some later time. . . . The intrusion into everyday life of this all-seeing eye no longer takes us by surprise or catches us with our defenses down. We need no reminder to smile.”

The Culture of Narcissism

“Cultural radicalism has become so fashionable, and so pernicious in the support it unwittingly provides for the status quo, that any criticism of contemporary society that hopes to get beneath the surface has to criticize, at the same time, much of what currently goes under the name of radicalism.”

The Culture of Narcissism

“Even when therapists speak of the need for “meaning” and “love,” they define love and meaning simply as the fulfilment of the patient’s emotional requirements. It hardly occurs to them—nor is there any reason why it should, given the nature of the therapeutic enterprise—to encourage the subject to subordinate his needs and interests to those of others, to someone or some cause or tradition outside himself. “Love” as self-sacrifice or self-abasement, “meaning” as submission to a higher loyalty—these sublimations strike the therapeutic sensibility as intolerably oppressive, offensive to common sense and injurious to personal health and well-being. To liberate humanity from such outmoded ideas of love and duty has become the mission of the post-Freudian therapies and particularly of their converts and popularizers, for whom mental health means the overflow of inhibitions and the immediate gratification of every impulse.”

The Culture of Narcissism

“Every society reproduces its culture, its norms, its underlying assumptions, its modes of organizing experience— in the individual, in the form of personality.”

The Culture of Narcissism

“For all his inner suffering, the narcissist has many traits that make for success in bureaucratic institutions, which put premium on the manipulation of interpersonal relations, discourage the formation of deep personal attachments, and at the same time provide the narcissist with the approval he needs in order to validate his self-esteem.”

The Culture of Narcissism

“In a society in which the dream of success has been drained of any meaning beyond itself, men have nothing against which to measure their achievements except the achievements of others.”

The Culture of Narcissism

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“Rhetoric is no substitute for reality.”


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“In a society in which the dream of success has been drained of any meaning beyond itself, men have nothing against which to measure their achievements except the achievements of others. Self-approval depends on public recognition and acclaim, and the quality of this approval has undergone important changes in its own right. The good opinion of friends and neighbors, which formerly informed a man that he had lived a useful life, rested on appreciation of his accomplishments. Today men seek the kind of approval that applauds not their actions but their personal attributes. They wish to be not so much esteemed as admired. They crave not fame but the glamour and excitement of celebrity. They want to be envied rather than respected. Pride and acquisitiveness, the sins of an ascendant capitalism, have given way to vanity.”

The Culture of Narcissism

“In a society that dreads old age and death, aging holds a special terror for those who fear dependence and whose' self-esteem requires the admiration usually reserved for youth, beauty, celebrity, or charm. The usual defenses against the ravages of age—identification with ethical or artistic values beyond one's immediate interests, intellectual curiosity, the consoling emotional warmth derived from happy relationships in the past—can do nothing for the narcissist. Unable to derive whatever com-fort comes from identification with historical continuity, he finds it impossible, on the contrary, "to accept the fact that a younger generation now possesses many of the previously cherished gratifications of beauty, wealth, power and, particularly, creativity. To be able to enjoy life in a process involving a growing identification with other people's happiness and achievements is tragically beyond the capacity of narcissistic personalities.”

The Culture of Narcissism

“In America, organized athletics teach militarism, authoritarianism
, racism, and sexism, thereby perpetuating the
"false consciousness" of the masses. Sports serve as an "opiate" of
the people, diverting the masses from their real problems with a
"dream world" of glamour and excitement. They promote sexual
-rivalry among males-with "vestal virgins" leading the cheers
from the sidelines-and thus prevent the proletariat from achieving
revolutionary solidarity in the face of its oppressors.”

The Culture of Narcissism

“In the last twenty-five years, the borderline patient, who confronts the psychiatrist not with well-defined symptoms but with diffuse dissatisfactions, has become increasingly common. He does not suffer from debilitating fixations or phobias or from the conversion of repressed sexual energy into nervous ailments; instead he complains "of vague, diffuse dissatisfactions with life" and feels his "amorphous existence to be futile and purposeless." He describes "subtly experienced yet pervasive feelings of emptiness and depression," "violent oscillations of self-esteem," and "a general inability to get along." He gains "a sense of heightened self-esteem only by attaching himself to strong, admired figures whose acceptance he craves and by whom he needs to feel supported." Although he carries out his daily responsibilities and even achieves distinction, happiness eludes him, and life frequently strikes him as not worth living.”

The Culture of Narcissism

“It appears that the prostitute, not the salesman, best exemplifies the qualities indispensable to success in American society.”

The Culture of Narcissism

“Much of what is euphemistically known as the middle class, merely because it dresses up to go to work, is now reduced to proletarian conditions of existence. Many white-collar jobs require no more skill and pay even less than blue-collar jobs, conferring little status or security.”

The Culture of Narcissism

“Our growing dependence on technologies no one seems to understand or control has given rise to feelings of powerlessness and victimization. We find it more and more difficult to achieve a sense of continuity, permanence, or connection with the world around us. Relationships with others are notably fragile; goods are made to be used up and discarded; reality is experienced as an unstable environment of flickering images. Everything conspires to encourage escapist solutions to the psychological problems of dependence, separation, and individuation, and to discourage the moral realism that makes it possible for human beings to come to terms with existential constraints on their power and freedom.”

The Culture of Narcissism

“People today associate rivalry with boundless aggression and find
it difficult to conceive of competition that does not lead directly to
thoughts of murder. Kohut writes of one of his patients: "Even as
a child he had become afraid of emotionally cathected competitiveness
for fear of the underlying (near delusional) fantasies of
exerting absolute, sadistic power." Herbert Hendin says of the
students he analyzed and interviewed at Columbia that "they
could conceive of no competition that did not result in someone's
annihilation." The prevalence of such fears helps to explain why Americans
have become uneasy about rivalry unless it is accompanied by the
disclaimer that winning and losing don't matter or that games are
unimportant anyway. The identification of competition with the
wish to annihilate opponents inspires Dorcas Butt's accusation
that competitive sports have made us a nation of militarists, fascists,
and predatory egoists; have encouraged "poor sportsmanship
" in all social relations; and have extinguished cooperation
and compassion.”

The Culture of Narcissism

“President Nixon's press secretary, Ron Ziegler, once demonstrated the political use of these techniques when he admitted that his previous statements on Watergate had become "inoperative." Many commentators assumed that Ziegler was groping for a euphemistic way of saying that he had lied. What he meant, however, was that his earlier statements were no longer believable. Not their falsity but their inability to command assent rendered them "inoperative." The question of whether they were true or not was beside the point.”

The Culture of Narcissism

“Since “the society” has no future, it makes sense to live only for the moment, to fix our eyes on our own “private performance,” to become connoisseurs of our own decadence, to cultivate a “transcendental self-attention.”

The Culture of Narcissism

“Success in our society has to be ratified by publicity. The tycoon who lives in personal obscurity, the empire builder who controls the destinies of nations from behind the scenes, are vanishing types. Even nonelective officials, ostensibly preoccupied with questions of high policy, have to keep themselves constantly on view; all politics becomes a form of spectacle. It is well known that Madison Avenue packages politicians and markets them as if they were cereals or deodorants; but the art of public relations penetrates even more deeply into political life, transforming policy making itself. The modern prince does not much care that “there’s a job to be done”—the slogan of American capitalism at an earlier and more enterprising stage of its development; what interests him is that “relevant audiences,” in the language of the Pentagon Papers, have to be cajoled, won over, seduced. He confuses successful completion of the task at hand with the impression he makes or hopes to make on others.”

The Culture of Narcissism

“The contemporary climate is therapeutic, not religious. People today hunger not for personal salvation, let alone for the restoration of an earlier golden age, but for the feeling, the momentary illusion, of personal well-being, health, and psychic security.”

The Culture of Narcissism

“The denial of age in America culminates in the prolongevity movement, which hopes to abolish old age altogether. But the dread of age originates not in the "cult of youth" but in a cult of the self. Not only in its narcissistic indifference to future generations but in its grandiose vision of a technological utopia without old age, the prolongevity movement exemplifies the fantasy of "absolute, sadistic power" which, according to Kohut, so deeply colors the narcissistic outlook. Pathological in its psychological origins and inspiration, superstitious in its faith in medical deliverance, the prolongevity movement expresses in characteristic form the anxieties of a culture that believes it has no future.”

The Culture of Narcissism

“The illusion of feeling well-informed....a public that feels informed in proportion as it is to befuddled. In one of his characteristic pronouncements, at a press conference in May 1962, John F. Kennedy proclaimed the end of ideology in words that appealed to both these public needs-the need to believe that political decisions are in the hands of dispassionate, bipartisan experts and the need to believe that the problems experts deal with are unintelligible to laymen.”

The Culture of Narcissism

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“Rather than dividing the world between good and evil, the Left divided the world in terms of economics. Economic classes, not moral values, explained human behavior. Therefore, to cite a common example, poverty, not one's moral value system, or lack of it, caused crime.”


More quotes by Dennis Prager

 
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