Sunday, July 11, 2010

Well, You Can't Have That....

Joe Bageant throws down only every so often these days, but that's understandable, and more importantly, every one has been a gem. I think he correctly susses the (probably) incurable malaise America is undergoing right now, and for at least the immediate future.

Along with the usual enviromental and classist issues, it's really a crisis of the spirit, to the extent that I can buy into that concept and remain a good atheist. Perhaps a secular version of "spirit" could be "passion", and when you see the things the majority of Americans appear to be passionate about, it makes sense.

One would like to believe it's just a media-created perception, but in even a notionally free-market milieu, there has to be some truth to it. Our pockets are being picked, our futures mortgaged, our lives and landscapes plundered by a precious few who already have too bloody much, yet never quite enough. Yet too many of us express our passions via modes that are undeserving of any passion at all.

We know things that were never worth knowing, about people not worth acknowledging, a comically dramatized echo chamber of interchangeable scripted "reality" shows. So many fat fucks pointlessly driving fat vehicles, carrying nothing to nowhere, back and forth, back and forth, spending money they don't really have on shit they don't really want.

Self-actualization, when it occurs at all, is done through the choice of vehicle, or hooting at hillbillies driving billboards in circles all afternoon, that sort of thing. There seems to be no sense of moderation in any of these pursuits; it's one thing to enjoy kitsch and trash and occasional indulgences, but it's important to find some balance to those things, especially since so many of them rely on dwindling shares of resources.

Bageant seems to have found that balance in simplicity, a genuine sense of community, the beauty of a moment. Speaking strictly for myself, I probably have an unhealthy attachment to my books, music, and guitars, but that's it. And even then, I recall being a teenager in Southern California, 25 years or so ago, spending the day surfing with friends and building a bonfire, meeting college girls and drinking beer and playing Beach Boys songs into the night. I remember thinking at the time, on one of those summer nights, that I could do that every day for the next hundred years.

It seems simplistic, counterintuitive, and may even be wrong, but sometimes you can observe the actions of others -- or even yourself -- and think that they can't possibly truly want to do what they're doing. But maybe we're all just too distracted anymore to think about what we really want to do, or it gets dismissed as too much trouble, or not enough time/money, even if some of the best things in life really are free (for now).


The Vile Scribbler said...

I had to pass this along, Heywood, figured you might get a laugh out of it. Don't worry, it's nothing to do with Diddy or Kanye.

Heywood J. said...

Hah. $64M to recover $1.4M, hilarious. And of course someone instantly links to the classic Albini record company accounting article. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of bastards.