August 29, 2016

"If you dedicate your existence to being likable... and if you adopt whatever cool persona is necessary to make it happen..."

"... it suggests that you’ve despaired of being loved for who you really are. And if you succeed in manipulating other people into liking you, it will be hard not to feel, at some level, contempt for those people, because they’ve fallen for your shtick. Those people exist to make you feel good about yourself, but how good can your feeling be when it’s provided by people you don’t respect? You may find yourself becoming depressed, or alcoholic, or, if you’re Donald Trump, running for president (and then quitting)."

From "Pain Won't Kill You," a 2011 commencement address, delivered at Kenyon College, by Jonathan Franzen, which you can read in the essay collection, "Farther Away." [AND: Full text here.]

ADDED: Do you even get why Donald Trump was used as a joke in 2011? It was May 28, 2011. Here's an article from May 16, 2011: "Donald Trump bows out of 2012 US presidential election race/US mogul formally announces he will not seek the Republican nomination, claiming he is 'not ready to leave the private sector.'"
Few US political commentators took his campaign seriously and many suggested he was only in it for the publicity.

In a statement, he said: "After considerable deliberation and reflection, I have decided not to pursue the office of the presidency. This decision does not come easily or without regret, especially when my potential candidacy continues to be validated by ranking at the top of the Republican contenders in polls across the country."

Modesty is not a Trump characteristic and this is reflected in his statement. "I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and, ultimately, the general election."

He added: "I have spent the past several months unofficially campaigning and recognise that running for public office cannot be done half-heartedly. Ultimately, however, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector."


Amadeus 48 said...

Or, if you are Barack Obama, running for president, winning twice, and then blowing your brains out.

It is not likely, but it could happen, Jonathan. It would certainly help prove your point, which apparently is that narcissists you don't like could do craZy things.

rhhardin said...

A proper commencent speech tells the graduates that they don't know anything and nobody cares what they think.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

First, if he predicted Trump running back in 2011, good for him.

Second, does anyone believe that Trump has dedicated his existence to being likable?

MayBee said...

Those people exist to make you feel good about yourself,

Did Franzen's speech make people who hate Trump feel good about themselves?

MayBee said...

That is weird from 5 years ago, though.

dreams said...

Here in this link is what I think about Trump and this election.

"It feels a whole lot like Reagan in ’80 and Newt in ’94."

"2) Who are you going to believe, polls or your lying eyes? I started asking people in the spring whom they were voting for. A surprisingly large percentage of not-supposed-to-be-a-Trump-supporter types turned out to be exactly that. That includes rich and highly educated people, women, blacks, Hispanics, and Muslims. A bunch of anecdotes, but interesting. Everyone keeps saying this election is about Trump. But I have come to believe it really is about his supporters, who to a person are deeply versed in all his flaws and faults and support him regardless. For them, this is about one or more of the following: deep antipathy for Hillary and all she represents and would do; disappointment with a broken system they feel has ignored them and in some cases harmed them for years; a desire to reclaim the country and their own lives and personhood. They genuinely love and worry about their country, and they want to feel proud again to be an American."

Read more at:

Laslo Spatula said...

Socially Awkward Guy Who Makes No Eye Contact says:

I want to be liked. I want to be one of those people that people like to like: it looks like fun, like a beer commercial where everybody hangs out with everybody and the chicks are all hot.

Instead people veer away from me, without even knowing me. Is it written on my face: I wet the bed until I was fourteen? And then a few times when I was fifteen?

Do they somehow know about that time at the bus stop? It was an accident. The Police didn't even arrest me: sometimes your pants just fall down. My pants just fell down. Big Deal.

Sure, I like to look at young girls on Instagram and masturbate, but it is not like I go ahead and tell people that. In public I try REALLY hard not to stare at young girls: I try REALLY hard.

It's just that adult woman scare me. Like they are going to cry 'Rape' if I even look at them. Did I mention that I can't keep an erection if a woman speaks?

Can women just instinctively tell that I have a compulsion to want to pee on them? But I can control it just fine, I would never pee on a woman unless she asked. There was that one time where the girl was asleep on the beach. That was a close one. But I only peed on her a little; I mostly just peed in the sand beside her before running away. Plus I was nervous and couldn't get a full stream going.

I just want to be liked. I don't even have to be liked for who I am: I'll settle for just being liked, no matter the reason.

Like no one else thinks these things.

I am Laslo.

Ann Althouse said...

"Second, does anyone believe that Trump has dedicated his existence to being likable?"

It depends on the meaning of being liked.

If it means drawing people toward you and getting them to want to give you the deal you want, then he's been doing that. He may be dedicating his existence to being likable in an unusual and dramatic way that the average needy schlub would not even think to attempt.

Ann Althouse said...

"That is weird from 5 years ago, though."

See the post update.

traditionalguy said...

Franzen hit the nail on the head. Modern Tyrants have had have zero respect for the people they enslave, and use as soldiers, and really wish were all dead, and the sooner the better.

Partial List: Hitler, Stalin, Hirohito, Hillary.

And they were all master Propagandists and Murderers

dreams said...

Trump likes people and those kind of people are likable. I don't think its calculating on his part, its who he is.

Chuck said...

We're about 75 days away from the election, and still few political commentators are taking his candidacy seriously.

Amadeus 48 said...

"Do you even get why Trump was used as a joke in 2011?"

Sorry, I was just blitzed within the past 12 months by stages full of people doing the same thing DJT and Herman Cain did in 2011. Let me make a list of people who ran for the GOP nomination but were as serious as Trump was in 2011: Jindal, Fiorina, Graham, Pataki, Carson, Santorum, Paul, Huckabee, Gilmore...and Trump.
Bush, Cruz, and Rubio were on a self-deluded, media-and money-assisted high.
Christie, Walker, Perry and Kasich were serious candidates who didn't make the grade with voters.

I plan to use the next four years to work on my golf game.

n.n said...

What difference at this point does it make?

The Pro-Choice religion is the pinnacle of narcissistic progress.

Yancey Ward said...

"We're about 75 days away from the election, and still few political commentators are taking his candidacy seriously."

Ok, Chuck, what do you think this means? Does the punditry have to take it seriously for it to be serious?

R.J. Chatt said...

I just read "Liking Is for Cowards. Go for What Hurts" by Jonathan Franzen. I actually forced myself to read through his obsessive self aggrandizement because I didn't know anything about Jonathan Franzen and had the thought, "Why should I care what Jonathan Franzen has to say about Donald Trump?" Is Franzen a leading intellectual and very wise and enlightened? My conclusion: could Franzen be any more neurotic? I think not. Certainly there is no reason why I should value Franzen's opinion more than my own.

The editorial's concept and premise is based on the belief that real "love" hurts but is superior to "liking" which is easily supplied by our technology. I was struck how different that premise is from what I heard when Larry King interviewed the then newly married Donald and Melania Trump in 2005. Donald said they were so compatible they never had an argument let alone a fight in the five years they had been together before he decided "it was time" to get married. Melania agreed that getting married was simply a natural transition and she was not at all nervous about taking that step. In a recent interview this year Melania voiced the same opinion about their relationship, now married for eleven years, that they are very happy and compatible and at the same time independent; she has never had any interest in changing him.

It may have occurred to self loathing Jonathan Franzen that he had to change himself to be likable if he wanted to be sociable, but I doubt that thought has ever crossed Donald Trump's mind. Trump has always been engaged socially and aware that there are people who loath him, and that it doesn't matter. He actually is that cool.

R.J. Chatt said...

spelling -- "loathe"