Friday, September 14, 2007

The Clone Wars of New York

A couple of recent commenters to a NYT's City Room post discussed the new type of New Yorker thusly:

"What once were streets filled with people who actually spoke to each other, now replaced by androids."

"I only wish whatever laboratory that is manufacturing these creatures would install a chip in them that would make them a bit more, well, human...there should be a massive recall."

I like this android idea and after writing this post on the Randian, Nietzschean uber-urbanites, I am seeing this android imagery everywhere. In the Svedka vodka ads. In the mannequins in windows of high-end boutiques. In the undulating, silvery chill of the new condo buildings shooting up all over town. And in the Borg-like way people wander the streets symbiotically attached to technology -- strapped into headsets, clinging to handheld devices, plugged into wires as if they were life-giving IVs.


This is all emblematic of what I think of as the Age of Narcissism. According to a recent study by professor and author Jean Twenge, "young people born after 1982 are the most narcissistic generation in recent history." Years ago, the slogan was "Don't trust anyone over 30." Now it's the under-30s we worry about trusting.

The android imagery suits the narcissists very well. They have no empathy for others. They see people as interchangeable, one the same as another. They throw items of value away, believing they can always get more. Here we can see how narcissists are attracted to disposability, easy access to objects of desire, and cloning in their environment. Sameness, uniformity, and countless xerox copies feel safe to them.

the repetition of steely perfection fences the site of a condo-to-be

Narcissists are created by other narcissists, parents who use their children to inflate their own grandiosity, and who fail to provide empathic mirroring. Their true selves ignored and unseen by self-absorbed parents, without a mirror to reflect one's authenticity, the narcissist does not develop a secure sense of self.

Without this sense of self, the narcissist goes through life hungry for mirrors. Unfortunately, our narcissistic culture fails them, just like their parents did, and provides only more warped mirroring filled with fluff fantasies of unachievable, superhuman ideals -- images that feed the corporation, not the consumer, who must continue to consume without ever feeling full. The superhuman ideal is pushed to extreme, where it becomes inhuman, mechanized, sleek as glass, invulnerable as steel, clean and vacant as ipod whiteness.

And there's our android image -- a self-replicating bot that multiplies and spreads like a virus. More narcissists equals more and more narcissists.

It's no wonder those condo buildings are sheathed in reflective surfaces. Like the android-style mannequins in shop windows, you can see your own image, however carnivalesque, in their silvery skins.

Is this the chilly home and the cool mother that the Yunnies recall in their most primitive memories? Is the Svedka fembot, with her icy titanium tits, the uber-mama for this new generation of New Yorkers? There is a solution. We must bring back another New York tradition that has been steadily vanishing from our city: Psychoanalysis.

svedka fembot: metal carved into ice, by gawker


Anonymous said...

Too bad the yunnies are too busy consuming and aren't reading this to defend themselves.

kane said...

"What once were streets filled with people who actually spoke to each other, now replaced by androids."

This is so true. I was at Down The Hatch last night (yeah, I know, sorry but I was craving for some atomic wings), anyway these two college age kids (who knows each other)-- Generation 0 -- sitting next to each other at the bar TEXTING each other. I guess talking is now obsolete. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

michfan2123 said...

Great post Jeremiah. Since I am 17, I have to deal with yunnies all the time. It is intensely painful to be around them.

Gaziano said...

Share a moment. Celebrate the season. Take your Frontego chicken and raisin panini with Vermont white cheddar and "stuff it up the hole that is your culture." -- Leonard Cohen