You know, narcissism is something that I think a lot about and am deeply indebted to, especially in the thinking of Kate Zambreno, Kara Jesella, Barbara Browning, and many, many others who quite honestly will probably speak more eloquently about it to you. Maybe a good place to start would be the original literary dad, Freud, whose conception of feminine narcissism is one pretty straightforwardly of phallus envy, where woman, lacking a dick, seeks to constantly decorate herself in order to make up for this lack, to attach artificial substitutional parts to herself so she becomes phallus. So in a way this accusation of narcissism has always been a hyper-masculine mode of trivializing femininity as something deeply rooted in lack, constantly painting its nails and attaching its hairpieces to make up for it, but I also think this is boring. I’m secretly a structuralist, and for me narcissism is the ultimate form of feminine nihilism, so I’m more interested in its formal qualities.
Narcissism to me speaks more toward a self-staging of my own life into vacant serial production. It’s a process wherein the noisy distortion of looking at myself with such intensity for an indefinite period of time becomes a series of architectural markers, a plastic Mattel style, via its very efficacy. Narcissism as a process kind of takes a grand narrative structure that one should have regarding an identity or life, or a social expectation can paradoxically become one where constituent parts fade out the bigger picture, in favor of an oversaturated field of references, even if all of those references are about cute boy bands and Hello Kitty. Looking at myself really yields over-exhausted iconography, but it still lures you into that gushy emotional feeling too, techno-aesthetic melodrama. I’m interested in sitting right there, between the style of a pixelated heart: “I love you, I hate you, let’s get a Coke,” and the deeply desperate feelings these forms can also often elicit. Pretty much exactly like that Frank Ocean mixtape nostalgia, ULTRA, or Sailor Moon’s tearful anime eyes. I just got a “nostalgia, ULTRA” tattoo under my Columbine tribute tattoo. Wanna see?
I was at the opening night of the One Direction movie, you know, 1D3D? I had the same sparkly fangirl backpack as a twelve-year-old in line, and I spent five minutes watching her watch me apply lipstick in my compact. On the brighter side, the feral intensity of that teen girl gaze is what I think can really weaponize narcissism, too. Like, sometimes I like to think about Tumblr, the ultimate zone of teen girl boredom and selfies as this giant mechanic assemblage with this languid temporal quality of waiting and scrolling and waiting and scrolling and how it’s this long moment that allows for a resistance to emerge and hold. But also I think about how Tumblr is just this processed excess of demand and desire, and it’s this very pressurized excess that literally flattens IRL persons like Harry Styles and Ryan Gosling into paper-thin templates. Almost like you can leach the life out of these characters, so instead there’s this vampiric community of sublimely narcissistic adolescent flesh, and I would be more than happy for the world to end with its knees buckling to this heterogeneous mass.
— trisha low on her new book the compleat purge
. trisha and i had a class together a few years ago, but i didn’t really get to know her, because i was busy having that major depressive episode. however, i do remember telling people that i was impressed by this girl who regularly wore see-through tops to class. “she takes it even further than i do!” excellent taste in bras.