The Kinfolk Long Listen brings you audio recordings of Kinfolk magazine essays on a common theme. For our second season: reflections on narcissism, loneliness, life hacking and more.
The New Narcissism
Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else. At a time when Instagram boasts more than 400 million #selfie posts, Kinfolk examines the rise of narcissism, from its roots in psychological science to its more modern application as a derogatory diagnosis for ex-lovers, friends, bosses or presidents. In exploring the difference between self-esteem and self-obsession, the question becomes whether it’s narcissism that’s on the rise—or simply self-confidence.
A Gendered History of the Muse
In Ancient Greece, the nine Muses were goddesses who inspired artists to complete their work. Today, the figure of the muse is still shrouded in an other-worldly aura: from Dora Maar to Margot Robbie, the women who “inspire” artists are often treated as blank canvases primed to channel the creativity of others. So, is there any way a woman can be a muse and remain in the picture? Kinfolk, goes behind the scenes at the studio.
Algorithms: The Ultimate Influencer
Taste has never existed in a vacuum. The things you like are influenced by the community around you, the people you admire from afar and the media you consume—Kinfolk, for example. But increasingly, taste is also affected by non-sentient influencers—through computer calculations that prod us toward the things we may also “like.” In the age of algorithms, Kinfolk explores one question that a Google search struggles to answer: can our taste ever be truly our own?
The Economy of Ideas
The non-fiction charts were once dominated by celebrity memoirs and self-help books. Now, they have taken a turn for the intellectual: from the history of man in Sapiens to the history of economics in Capital. At a moment in time when the bestsellers list looks more like a college reading list, Kinfolk charts how global uncertainty, social media overload and the TED Talks juggernaut all contributed to the rise of the “brainy book.”
What happened to life hacking?
If you can hack a computer’s software, can you hack a person’s life? During the first part of the 21st century, a wave of optimistic tech geeks thought so, proclaiming that the way to increase productivity—from sleeping efficiently to removing household stains—was to find and exploit shortcuts in the way we “code” daily life. At a time when our obsession with productivity shows no sign of waning, Kinfolk charts the rise and eventual mutation of this early internet philosophy.
In Defense of Loneliness
If the heart is a lonely hunter, as Carson McCullers wrote, what does it want? Certainly, one can be as lonely in a relationship as when single, as lonely at a party as when home on the couch. At a time in which social apps used to avoid loneliness often seem to only exploit and compound it, Kinfolk shines a light on one of life’s most concealed emotions and examines how, by identifying loneliness as an inescapable hallmark of human experience, it might just be harnessed for good.