Sunday, July 31, 2011

Quote of the day

Jacob Stein writes a regular column for the D.C. Bar's magazine. His pieces are anecdotal and reflective and often full of interesting quotations. In his column in the current issue Stein quotes a definition of "litigious paranoia" from the famous 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. It says among other things that the "basic emotion [involved in the condition] is vanity...."

After quoting the paragraph-length definition, Stein adds:
This was written before Freudian psychoanalysis.... If the entry were rewritten today, the only change would be to reframe the diagnosis of vanity into narcissism, the narcissist being the person thinking of no one but oneself. Or, as George Eliot (not Freud or Jung) said, "What we see exclusively, we see out of proportion to reality."
I suppose it is arguable that an aspect of George Eliot's genius was her ability to make a tautology sound like a profundity. In any case, it's a pretty good line.

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