Open Wounds

N is for Narcissus

Narcissus (Greek: Νάρκισσος) in Greek mythology was a hunter from the territory of Thespiae in Boeotia who was renowned for his beauty. He was exceptionally proud, in that he disdained those who loved him. Nemesis saw this and attracted Narcissus to a pool where he saw his own reflection in the waters and fell in love with it, not realizing it was merely an image. Unable to leave the beauty of his reflection, Narcissus died. The Greeks don’t pull any punches. No happy endings here.

I had no idea the words Nemesis and Narcissus were linked. Nemesis is one of the Greed Goddesses of revenge but specifically for those who showed arrogance before the gods (in this case hubris – another great word). Narcissistic means vanity, conceit, egoism, selfishness, but it can also mean healthy self-love – though probably not in terms of masturbation. Come on. Did that not come into your head when you read that? No? then it’s just me. Back to this concept of narcissus and narcissism. Do you think writers are, by nature narcissistic? I wonder about this. We spend a lot of time by ourselves, wrapped up in our own worlds, thinking about our own words, blocking much of the external world out for as long as we can, or dare (diapers have to be changed, kids picked up from school, lovers loved, day jobs shown up to). I have on more than one occasion been accused by my wife of having an affair with my computer.

I prefer to think of this as an act of balance, spending time with myself and my work, which if it is to be done, must be done alone (I can’t socialize and write at the same time, can you?). Back to the balance. Healthy self-love is a bit new age-ish but it works for me. And good old Narcissus, stuck by his pool, is a good warning. One foot in both worlds and balanced between.

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4 responses

  1. I’m somewhat more fascinated by Nemesis. I had no idea that word came from a Greek myth.

    April 16, 2012 at 11:45 am

    • I had no idea either. It is a cool link between two words I didn’t know were associated.

      April 16, 2012 at 12:12 pm

  2. Huh! You learn something every day.
    I think authors should be called “healthily confident” not narcissistic. Has a better ring.

    April 16, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    • I agree. Narcissistic has such a weight attached to it its other value will probably never see the light of day. Still it’s interesting to find it. Best – Joe

      April 16, 2012 at 6:58 pm

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