Salon has published an excerpt from the forthcoming Assholes: A Theory, a book by philosopher Aaron James that is exactly what it sounds like. One section, titled “Delusional Asshole”, explains exactly why Kanye West is such a fucking asshole. This is well-timed. James also explains cable news assholes, banker assholes, and a little bit on Donald Trump. Who is an asshole.

West is of special interest because he seems almost unable to move from huge self-absorption to a rudimentary grasp of the public world.

It is instructive to compare West to asshole artists such as Pablo Picasso or Ernest Hemingway or Miles Davis. None were mistaken about their greatness. All were wrong about what their greatness entitled them to by way of special treatment from others. Here it is harder to be understanding. It is indeed desirable for a society to afford its great artists special opportunities for creative production for the good of all. But there are limits, and many true geniuses do manage well enough to abide by them, perhaps by nurturing a grounding sense of gratitude for being endowed with special creative privilege. Those who don’t are pure asshole.


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