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Author: Will Storr

BT 201709 BOOK 01 编辑
      威尔•斯托(Will Storr)是一位获奖记者和作家,他的文章和评论常常见诸于《卫报》、《纽约客》等知名报刊杂志。他还同时担任记者和作家的培训讲师、自由撰稿人、摄影师和编辑,工作内容丰富且在每个领域都成效卓著。目前著有《Selfie》(自拍)、《THE HERETICS》(持异端者)、《THE HUNGER AND THE HOWLING OF KILLIAN LONE》(吉莲•劳恩的饥饿与嚎叫)、《WILL STORR VS THE SUPERNATURAL》(威尔•斯托尔大战超自然力量)四部书。



BT 201709 BOOK 02Will Storr

Will Storr’s new book Selfie is extremely timely, asking and attempting to answer many questions pertinent to our current selfie-taking generation. Fortunately, it isn’t a cynical look at the narcissistic ways of the young. (That could only be a sterile cliché, Socrates having groused similarly 2500 years ago). Rather it examines the Western sense of the self from the time of Ancient Greeks through to its modern, digitally-connected sense doubly descended from San Francisco – from the esteem-enhancing Bay Area hippies and the libertarian would-be ubermensch of the online era.

In a number of excursions Storr examines some outliers – Dominican monks in a Scottish abbey; a London gangster who cracked up and found God; a rumination on the success of Donald Trump; and Storr himself writes of undertaking a deprogramming class to find his “real” self. These stories and characters give flesh and blood to theories and academic papers.

Storr really starts his account in Ancient Greece. He locates the initial sense of Western sense – individual and economically self-reliant - in the economies of the various Greek city-states. This socio-economic molding of the self he repeats several times: he sees the socially-predicated Chinese self as coming from the rich paddy fields where everyone had to work together and he sees the smiling can-do positivity of modern Western society a result of the Californian suburbs where one had to get along with one’s neighbors to get ahead. This might all be true, but it’s curious not to locate this idea as Marx’s notion of society formed by the means of production.

Storr then traces the modern narcissism through the affirmation school (which he demonstrates was based on extremely shaky academic foundations) to modern capitalist idea that one can do anything if one just tries hard enough. Not surprisingly, the young and successful have swallowed this almost whole, but the collateral damage for those who strive to present a perfect image and fail is heavy indeed.

Instant judgments on our images and self-projections make empathy, complexity and understanding more difficult than ever. Likewise, trolling and instant hate-mobs have crossed from 4chan and Twitter to everyday political discourse. Storr wisely makes no attempt to advise redress. He lives on a simple conversation suggesting that people are, generally, good. But as his book recognizes, empathy and tolerance grow in the soil of society and that seems to be getting ever stonier.


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