Egotopia: Narcissism and the New American Landscape - Politicrossing
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Egotopia: Narcissism and the New American Landscape

Must we bear witness to one more bumper sticker proclaiming that some insecure guy loves his dog?

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“There are moments in history that divide eras, moments that serve to direct our attention, to inform us of a fundamental shift in collective perception, in professed values.”

Although he wrote Egotopia: Narcissism and the New American Landscape 23 years ago, and the book received no acclaim, John Miller, co-founder of Scenic America, was on to something.

“The emergence of the New American Landscape is such a moment,” Miller said, “whose significance, for the most part, is a steep detection of sociologists, historian, and architectural critics alike.”

The [Greedy] New American Landscape

Keeping in mind, that his writing pre-dated the statue-toppling Leftists, here are my notes and excerpts from Egotopia:

So little of our historical landscape remains, replaced by the “New American Landscape,” that it’s hard to appreciate our present aesthetic deprivation, having few opportunities for comparison.

Must we bear witness to one more bumper sticker proclaiming that some insecure person loves his dog? We have been transformed from a society modeled on the professed virtues of balance, harmony, rights, and responsibilities to one that celebrates self indulgence in the name of self-liberation.

The ugliness of our environment is a function of our transformation from a society to communal values to one that celebrates and encourages individual self indulgence. Greed, ignorance, mindless science and technology, and excessive materialism contribute to both environmental destruction and a public confusion and ambiguity about aesthetics.

Self-absorption Reigns

In a historically brief 50 years, America has turned its back on community, as community has been traditionally defined, and embraced the suburban cultural breeding ground of self-absorption.

For people whose identity increasingly depends on what they consume, advertising messages are no longer irritating, intrusive, and inane but informative, sustaining, and nurturing.

We appear indifferent to the physical and environmental loss of our cultural heritage as, one by one, authentic small towns and charming country side are paved over.

Concurrently, we seemed pleased and satisfied in having created a physical environment in which it is literally possible to be no more than minutes by car away from refrigerated soft-drink.

One Big Shopping Strip

The great suburban transformation has remade travel, from one part of the New American Landscape to another, into merely physical motion. One travels thousands of miles to encounter the same chain stores, the same chain restaurants, and the same chain motels.

The New Man imposes himself on the environment, first by his obvious presence (car, camper van, boat trailer, videocam, screaming kids, barking dogs) and then by conditioning sales- savvy vendors to cater to his tastes. Ultimately, travel in America promises adventure and novelty while delivering standardization and mediocrity.

Of all the players appealing to the debased sensibilities of the new man, none is more capable, calculating, nefarious, and successful than the billboard industry. It has succeeded in corrupting and tainting public aesthetics, public welfare, and public consciousness. Billboards are intrusive, obnoxious, annoying, and, unlike television, they cannot be turned off.

America, the Once Beautiful

During the 1980’s the billboard lobby attempted and often succeeded in incorporating the following civic minded notions into law:

  • Modify the highway beautification act from protecting scenic beauty to preserving “Communications through the outdoor medium.”
  • Abolish the traditional use of municipal authority to remove billboards.
  • Required that all trees blocking the billboard would by law be cut down at taxpayers expense.

The billboard industry maintains that billboards save the traveling public from being bored out of their minds. They stand tall on the very border of parks, across from schools, churches, hospitals, and even within sight of cemeteries. They are a common place on sides of busses, and bus stops.

Some cities permit billboards to be placed on parking meters. The U.S. senate seriously debated selling advertising space on mail trucks and neighborhood mailboxes. Billboards have been erected on ski lifts, on golf kiosks, in little league parks, and on soft drink vending machines.

What is Art?

The billboard industry has contended openly that billboards constitute art and has promoted the notion that we should evaluate individual billboards for their effectiveness, artistry, and eye catching appeal. Marshal McLuhan would have understood the billboard industry’s need to seduce the public into focusing attention on the message and not the medium.

Billboards hawking alcohol and cigarettes nearby schools are potentially far more insidious than the availability of pornographic tapes in an adult video store.

Each day, they’re subjected to the grotesque and vial commercial solicitations, the intrusiveness and insanity of which would have shocked our collective sensibilities only a few short years ago.

Today we do not consume to live. We live to consume.

The Advertising Mob Rules

We have created and institutionalized a mob which sets for us our societal standards, cultural icons, and norms of behavior.

They now determine how America looks and feels. We have been guilty of being too generous with those that would debase our society.

Long have we been devouring our moral capital. Many are satiated on the heady narcissistic nutrients that flow so generously from our cultural bounties. Yet, even they might realize that their gluttony foretells a mighty fall.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Politics

Cancel-free: The Charmed Lives of Offensive Democrats

The American Left is teaming with hypocritical womanizers, homophobes, and anti-white racists, all of whom receive a free pass

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Pretend that you’re the governor of some state, perhaps out in the Midwest. Seven different women have come forward accusing you of sexually harassing or molesting them. Suppose, as well, that you happen to be a Republican.

Cuomo Nation

As successful as you might have been in holding on to your post for the first six accusations, how long would you last after the seventh woman has come forward?

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Any level headed person would conclude that you wouldn’t be able to hang on for long. The press would hammer you every day. People on your staff would rebel. Those who exert any type of influence in your state’s legislative body would go on the warpath, and insist that you resign immediately.

You’d have significant trouble working with elected officials, heads of agencies and commissions, and your own staff. CNN and MSNBC would feature you as a nightly topic. Yet, Andrew Cuomo can hang on for months, and possibly even for the duration of his elected term. Why? He is a Democrat.

The Joy of Being Joy Reid

Suppose that you become a nightly news anchor for a major TV network. A short time thereafter, it is revealed that you’ve made highly questionable, homophobic, even vicious statements and blog posts within the past decade. At your network, how quickly would you be asked to resign? A day? A week?

If you’re able to retain your post, what would your relationship be with your existing staff, some of whom represent the type of people that you so ungraciously disparaged in your posts? What would your relationship be with the studio and broadcast executives? What about your audience? Would they  seek your removal?

Suppose, however, that your name is Joy Reid. You are a black woman in America, and have made statements in your blog, “The Reid Report” where you have openly “mocked public figures for their perceived femininity and gayness.” Worse, you have sought to expose political opponents whom you believed to be homosexual.

Cancel-Free and Lovin’ It

Many months pass and the din dies down. While your reputation has been tarnished, the Public Broadcasting System, de facto, has granted that you will continue on in your post. No real harm, right? After all, it’s been 10 years, and presumably you’re a better person now, eh? Yet, others at other stations, who made less derogatory comments, far more that ten years ago, have been terminated.

As a ‘woman of color’ in America, a Democrat, a liberal, a progressive, and one who supports the Left, you are immune from being dislodged from your position. You would have to murder somebody, live, on air, before your position would be in jeopardy. Anything that has occurred off of the air will be downplayed.

Soon, your transgression will be swept under the rug. Your deed will never completely disappear, because the Internet is eternal. However, the impact and  ramifications of your transgression can be reduced to the bare minimum.

A Caucasian-hating Asian

Your big day arrives: you land a prime position at the New York Times, “the newspaper of record.” The prestige that goes along with your role is enormous. You are on the advisory committee for the editorial opinion page: You decide what makes it into print and what does not, and you get to shape what is printed.

Before you officially begin, serious allegations about you have surfaced. You’ve made inflammatory statements, insulting older white Caucasians. You have said, verbatim, “Oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men.”

You have tweeted, “Dumb*ss f*cking white people marking up the internet with their opinions like dogs p-ssing on fire hydrants” and, “White people have stopped breeding. You’ll all go extinct soon. This was my plan all along.”

How long would it take your employer to fire you, even before your first day? Your name, however, is Sarah Jeong. You are an Asian-American, part of a protected class, a Democrat, and a progressive who is highly supportive of Leftist causes. Despite all that is known about your past, the Times embraces you.

State of Disgrace

After a mercifully short stay, deputy editor Kate Kingsbury said, “Sarah decided to leave the editorial board in August. But we’re glad to still have her journalism and insights around technology in our pages through her work as a contributor.”

This is the state of the American Left today, an ideology teaming with hypocritical womanizers, homophobes, and anti-white racists. As if in The Twilight Zone, these people receive a free pass: They are Democrats, a special class and part of the upper tier in our two-tier level of justice and “social” justice.

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Business

Running up Huge Deficits: Bad for Nations and for Individuals

Deficits are risky, whether global, national, regional, state, local, or personal

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Joe Biden seeks to spend $6 trillion annually, for now. It could be higher thereafter, as our national debt climbs to staggering sums: $28.5 trillion, and $153.5 in unfunded liabilities. Has any nation in history that accumulated large deficits over a prolonged period of time and, lacking a concerted effort towards reducing them, sustained economic prosperity for its people?

Personal Deficits

Deficits are risky, whether global, national, regional, state, local, or personal. What are the deficits in your own life? For example, based on how many calories you’re consuming daily, are you running a deficit in the number of calories you need to burn to maintain a proper weight level? If so, you know that you face many health risks.

Do you have a financial deficit? For decades, tens of millions of Americans have accumulated personal debt via credit cards. Sustained deficit spending erodes one’s ability to prepare for the future and, worse, exploit current opportunities.

Is there a deficit in the time that you spend with relatives and loved ones? What about hobbies? Friends? Worthy causes?

Answers Appear

When you’re honest with yourself about your deficits, the answers to reducing them naturally appear:

* To reduce a weight deficit, plot your weight each morning for six months. Once you become vividly aware of the relationship between calories burned and weight reduction, watching your weight drop will further reinforce your ability to maintain balance in your caloric intake.

* To reduce a personal financial deficit, place a moratorium on spending – regardless of what items entice you – until all your credit cards have zero balances.

* If you have a deficit in the time spent with friends, on hobbies, or on worthy causes, devote one evening per week to such endeavors. Give up addictive news and information via web and TV that, in retrospect, might add little to your life while creating other time-related deficits. To spend more time with your children, involve them in activities you have traditionally done without them.

Here are two resources:

Debtors Anonymous: www.debtorsanonymous.org
Obsessive-Compulsive Anonymous: www.obsessivecompulsiveanonymous.org

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