Monday, June 27, 2011

Liking is for Cowards. Go for What Hurts.

Jonathan Franzen's commentary is better than his fiction. So even if you couldn't get through the Corrections and snubbed your nose at this year's hype over Freedom, take a few minutes to enjoy his diagnosis of our contemporary infatuation with technology. An excerpt:

"Very probably, you’re sick to death of hearing social media disrespected by cranky 51-year-olds. My aim here is mainly to set up a contrast between the narcissistic tendencies of technology and the problem of actual love. My friend Alice Sebold likes to talk about “getting down in the pit and loving somebody.” She has in mind the dirt that love inevitably splatters on the mirror of our self-regard.

The simple fact of the matter is that trying to be perfectly likable is incompatible with loving relationships. Sooner or later, for example, you’re going to find yourself in a hideous, screaming fight, and you’ll hear coming out of your mouth things that you yourself don’t like at all, things that shatter your self-image as a fair, kind, cool, attractive, in-control, funny, likable person. Something realer than likability has come out in you, and suddenly you’re having an actual life.

Suddenly there’s a real choice to be made, not a fake consumer choice between a BlackBerry and an iPhone, but a question: Do I love this person? And, for the other person, does this person love me?"

Read the rest of his New York Times article, "Liking is for Cowards. Go for What Hurts" here.

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