So used to the one measure of status in Washington — political power — the Republicans may find New York to be a disconcerting place.
No New Yorker wins every contest. In fact, every New Yorker is going to see someone in the next 15 minutes who will bring them down a notch. This gaze economy has so many scales of value that no one gets to triumph. Indeed, the higher we score on one scale, the lower we score on another. Interestingly, there is no exit scenario. Unless we spend all our time at home and the club, we must expose ourselves to diminishment. Or to put this in the form of a trade off, we cannot present ourselves for approval, without exposing ourselves to the reminder that we are, in someone’s world, a dolt.
In other words, life in a (relative) meritocracy is tough. But it is also good for you in the longer run. That’s from a longer post by Grant McCracken, my favorite anthropologist-blogger. Read the whole discussion, and thanks to Virginia Postrel for the pointer. Also scroll down on his blog to read a series of posts on the “gaze economy.”