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The selfie, the tweet, the Facebook page made flesh

Fans of Theodore Dalrymple
January 28, 2020

Prince Harry holds up a mirror to modern egotism

Dalrymple writes that the Queen and Prince Harry provide a contrast

between one conception of life, one culture, and another.

In the Queen [1] there is

In Prince Harry there is

Dalrymple comments:

There isn’t much doubt as to which of these attitudes to life is in the ascendant, sociologically and philosophically. As Blake put it, ‘Sooner strangle an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires.’ To swallow down our emotions is now regarded as treason to the self [4], where it is not comical or a subject for derision; not to express oneself is to risk later psychological disaster.

Such is the power of modern culture

that a cosseted and highly unusual family is not immune from its influence.

There is

a desperate search for uniqueness among people who have a weak sense of self as distinguished from others. In an age of celebrity, not to be outstanding in some way is felt almost as a wound, certainly as an indication of failure.

The inflamed need for individuation

causes people to be reluctant to accept anything traditional, because the tradition did not originate with them and has no justification that they consider wholly rational. Life is all about choice: my choice. The extension of choice is why transgression is a good in itself.

Dalrymple adds that Prince Harry

is not being straightforward. He wants to destroy tradition and at the same time benefit from its continuation. He has no claim to the public’s attention except that he was born who he was in the very tradition that he wants to overthrow because he wants to be really, truly, just himself. I can well understand why a young man in his position does not want to play the part allotted him by fate; I wouldn’t have wanted such a part myself. But in order not to be a hypocrite, he should have gone off quietly into obscurity, without public subvention, to study butterflies or Sumerian epigraphy.