Sunday, January 24, 2016

"… our pathetic native self"

I just finished reading Janet Malcom's harsh review of Jonathan Bate's recent biography of Ted Hughes, now available online prior to my receiving it in the next issue of The New York Review of Books. I was particularly pleased with her concluding paragraph, in which she dismissed the idea that a biography should be about what the subject was "really" like. Her punch line about that topic was:
If anything is our own business, it is our pathetic native self.
This left me wondering if this was her way of venting about the current mass addiction to social media, suggesting that whose who indulge most heavily are actually the most pathetic. In an earlier age (about which these addicts are totally oblivious), the prevailing motto would have been "Get a life!" In the absence of an authoritative voice to utter that maxim, such addicts can think of nothing to do other what broadcast every detail of "native self" to the entire Internet, neither knowing nor caring about how pathetic that act of broadcasting is.

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