Grotesquerie le regarder (2002), Brent Harris

`Well, a second-order vain person is first of all a vain person.  He’s vain about his intelligence, and wants people to think he’s smart. Or his appearance, and wants people to think he’s attractive. Or, say, his sense of humour, and wants everyone to think he’s amusing and witty. Or his talent, and wants everyone to think he’s talented. Et cetera.  You know what a vain person is.`

`Right.`

Just a feeling (no. 2) (1996), Brent Harris

`A vain person is concerned that people not perceive him as stupid, or dull, or ugly, et cetera et cetera.`

`Gotcha.`

`Now a second-order vain person is a vain person who’s also vain about appearing to have an utter lack of vanity.  Who’s enormously afraid that other people will perceive him as vain. A second-order vain person will sit up late learning jokes in order to appear funny and charming, but will deny that he sits up late learning jokes. Or he’ll perhaps even try to give the impression that he doesn’t regard himself as funny at all.` 

`….`

– The Broom of the System (ch. 2), David Foster Wallace

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