February 11, 2009

Strange Behavior, Imaginary Lives

The New York Times published an article today on the stresses and constraints felt by the suddenly less-wealthy wealthy, many of whom are apparently having "a psychological crisis over wealth and self-image." They are, according to the article, fearful of what may come, and are going to great (and paranoid) lengths to protect what they still have. They have lost resources, and also a sense of identity. 
As summed up in the article: "Talk to enough people who work with the wealthy and the picture that emerges of the upper echelon of American society is borderline feudal: the haves are ensconced in their castles and the have-nots are barbarians to be kept at bay. Yet even though civil society is still functioning and the have-nots are not storming the McMansions, the haves are still struggling to come to grips with the new realities." 
I cannot for the life of me think of one respectful or compassionate thing to say about these "haves" sudden descent from the imaginary into the real, because I have always had such a hard time believing that they believe they, I just have to offer up a quote (from 1956) by the writer and psychiatrist Frantz Fanon: "The imaginary life cannot be isolated from real life. The concrete and the objective world constantly feed, permit, legitimate, and found the imaginary. The imaginary consciousness is obviously unreal, but it feeds the concrete world." 

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