25 September 2009

Scots narcissism in the NYT...

Narcissism is one of life’s great pleasures. I’ve a private theory about how it intrudes in the apparently innocent work of rifling through a photo album. Watch someone you know doing so. Attend to the gaze. It will linger with a passing interest on this face and that – till halt – it comes upon a group shot from which the peeper him or herself gazes back. Expect the soul to stare at themselves with avid curiosity – no doubt affecting a measure of diffidence, for form. And why not? Everyone else looks much the same as they do when swanning around. The self, by contrast, experiences its physiognomy on the cheap – filmed with one, rather dodgy camera lens, stuck to its tripod.

A similar wriggling frisson of pleasure attaches, for me, to external representations of the political and national self. I refer, in particular, to international news stories about our domestic issues. While, for purely informative purposes, these bits of writing invariably contain less detail and less sharply winnowed facts than an embedded, more local account – their pleasure is precisely like that of seeing oneself in a photo. You are unused to seeing that perspective. Hence, I’m always narcissistically curious to see how local concerns are reported to the wider world. As I’m sure the scholarly Malcolm would agree, Scottish Nationalism, in the context of world nationalisms past and present, is a curious phenomenon.

These threads of curiosity combine in this article, published yesterday in the New York Times. Restore the hellish vigour to one, almost spent, revenant, the article is entitled Memo from Edinburgh: When Doing the Scottish Thing Backfires. Its stuffed with delicious treats for those who enjoy a bit of third-party self-regard such as myself. Also, I imagine that the Swine Pursuivant, the eminent eminence Richard Baker, will be tickled ruddy to have his grunting proclamations assail American lugs. Its author, Sarah Lyall, is the Times' London correspondent - I wonder if she has ever floated north of the Tweed in her puff - but don't let that put you off. For those of you given to digital and nationalistic narcissism, do take a gander. Trust me. It’s a peccadillo between you and your internet history.

H/T The Lockerbie Case

1 comment :

  1. I posted about an American's view on this. She says it's mainly media hype.