Humility and Opinions

“Humility, a word so often bandied about in public contexts, was something hardly anyone knew the meaning of any more. Only those who had every reason to be conceited, those of real calibre, showed no trace of conceit, only they were humble. Conceit and self-righteousness were part of a defence mechanism without which a person would be crushed under the weight of their own weaknesses, shortcomings and flaws, and that fact underlay almost every discussion I witnessed, verbal as well as written, in newspapers and on television, but also in my immediate surroundings, in the private sphere. Such weakness would not be admitted, since so much would be lost, and the form of those discussions and the power of the media resolved it by endowing it with their strength. That was why opinions were so important in society, through opinions we appropriated a strength and supremacy we did not possess. That was the function of form here, to obscure the weakness of the individual.

— Karl Ove Knausgaard, The End (trans. by Martin Aitken and Don Bartlett)

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