Thursday 25 July 2013

Resentment-Entitlement as the distinctive modern affect


(Note: Affect is a psychiatric term for prevailing mood.)


In the past decades I sense a change of attitude in the public space - and nowadays the prevailing tone is one of resentment-entitlement.

Thirty-plus years ago, resentment-entitlement was a relatively unusual affect, confined to specific individuals and groups of adolescents, psychopathic men and hysterical women.

In other words, attention-seekers - those who sought to impose themselves on the public space with 'look at me, and defer to me' or 'look at me, and desire me'.

Now it seems to be almost-universal - the norm - or at least so common as to set the tone.

The public space has become a marketplace of persons fighting for attention, desperate to make an impression - individuals who seem to suck their vital sustenance from this: like vampires of egotism.

They resent attention going to anyone else, they feel entitled to that attention for themselves. Yet, given that attention is finite, attention-seeking in the public arena is a zero-sum game because there is never enough attention to go around (an equal share of attention being far too little to satisfy the cravings of the vampires for that vital fluid - each wants more than an equal share).

These are the signals I read from the hard eyes and the pseudo-seductive eyes, the fake signals of sexual availability, the aggressive posturings of tattoos and piercing and body-built steroid-pumped physiques.

Simultaneously: 'Are you looking at me?' and 'Why aren't you looking at me?' and 'Please look at me...'.



dearieme said...

Vanity, vanity ...

Robert Pearson said...

"Vampires" indeed--psychic vampires as Colin Wilson explored in his novel.

If "public space" is meant to include popular entertainment, the percentage of this type has exploded in the last 30-40 years. Indeed, in "reality" television it must be approaching 100.

Bruce Charlton said...

@RP - I need to go back and look at Wilson's novel which I neglected to read when I had a prolonged craze on him (he wrote so many books!) - an author full of insights!