When I think we can’t hit new lows, I run across something like this:


I am hardly familiar with this “selfie” phenomenon, but I can’t see it as a good development. I saw a 19 year old recently do something called “snapshot,” or something like that, wherein you take a picture of yourself prior to every text that you send. For the life of me I don’t see the point of that, but it is astonishing to me how often young persons end up pointing cameras at themselves. It’s as if the digital image is a palimpsest, a simultaneous negation of their real selves and a freezing in time of a digital self.

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Jeffrey Polet
Jeffrey Polet grew up in an immigrant household in the immigrant town of Holland MI. After twenty years of academic wandering he returned to Holland and now teaches political science at Hope College, where he also grudgingly serves as chair of the department, having unsuccessfully evaded all requests. In the interim, he continues to nurture quirky beliefs: Division III basketball is both athletically and morally superior to Division I; the Hope/Calvin rivalry is the greatest in sports; the lecture is still the best form of classroom instruction; never buy a car with less than 100,000 miles on it; putts will still lip out in heaven; bears are the incarnation of evil; Athens actually has something to do with Jerusalem; and Tombstone is a cinematic classic. His academic work has mirrored his peripatetic career. Originally trained at the Catholic University of America in German philosophy and hermeneutical theory, he has since gravitated to American Political Thought. He still occasionally writes about European thinkers such as Michel Foucault or the great Max Weber, but mostly is interested in the relationship between theological reflection and political formation in the American context. In the process of working on a book on John Marshall for The Johns Hopkins University Press, he became more sensitive to the ways in which centralized decision-making undid local communities and autonomy. He has also written on figures such as William James and the unjustly neglected Swedish novelist Paer Lagerkvist. A knee injury and arthritis eliminated daily basketball playing, and he now spends his excess energy annoying his saintly wife and their three children, two of whom are off to college. Expressions of sympathy for the one who remains can be posted in the comments section. He doesn’t care too much for movies, but thinks opera is indeed the Gesamtkuntswerk, that the music of Gustav Mahler is as close as human beings get to expressing the ineffable, that God listens to Mozart in his spare time, and that Bach is history’s greatest genius.


  1. Part of this is simply the novelty of the thing — until recently it hasn’t been this easy to take a decent picture of oneself. But I think that it’s hard to argue that there’s not a narcissistic substrate to all of this, as there is to the vast majority of social media-related stuff.

  2. So, we’re supposed to be surprised at the human’s besotted love of gadgets ? Surprise graduating to indignity?

    Gadgets are a perfect distraction.

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