Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dec 7, 2010

Some experiences are so broad it's hard to put a label on them. I could say that the past two years have been perfectly wrong, a kind of tsunami of decisions the me I'm familiar with never would have considered. Joining a dating site for example. It's the kind of thing I'd typically dismiss as delusional playtime. And you know what? It is like playtime, and there are crazy people. It's a bizarre and shifting thing; a real study of social dynamics or a collection of bad writing and worse pictures; it depends on your filter. But I never would have known that unless I got involved with it. I just would have kept thinking I knew. It's this tendency toward involvement that's been surprising. I'm not the type to explore novelty acts. Am I?

Getting older is a return to childhood. Almost everyone I know approaching thirty, including me, seems to be bracing for something, like kids gathering on a stormy day to watch for lightning strikes. Mouths agape, we're waiting for some colossal signal. Why? I wish I knew. It's hard to be sure of anything these days; my generation is caught in comfortable rebellion, simultaneously free and bound up by the conventions our parents helped establish back when the going was good. I feel hardly an obligation to anything besides the page, whatever it may come to, because it gives me peace, which is the profit I'm after. Tabula Rasa is the universe of possibility. Children are given the privilege of not knowing, while the rest of us are expected to be sure. Don't get me wrong, I like understanding the words, but it's the emptiness between that keeps me reading.

And speaking of reading, I came across an article in The Star recently that compared our twenty-somethings to the Beat Generation. I won't lie and say I wasn't gratified; for almost ten years, I've felt a real closeness to the big names of that movement. Kerouac's jittering genius hit me like a rogue firework when I discovered On The Road. His audio recordings are beautiful, full of love and a depth of ability which manifests as effortlessness. He comes off casual because he's given it all away; nothing left to hide behind or hold onto. This kind of thing appeals to me. The Beat movement was a reaction to its time; a collective of alienated artists, writers and wanderers, neo-sages and bums, seemingly fearless in the wake of a war which must have affected their opinions and values. They were post war, post depression, post hell poets. And what are we? We have mountains of surplus luxuries, without knowing why or what to do with them. We're hyper aware. Our struggles are stylish and our wars are corporate. But it makes sense, doesn't it, that this atmosphere of excess and pointlessness would breed a similar attitude of turning away, of simplification and starting again. It feels like one of those breakups when you've exhausted all the emotion and there's nothing left but to get out. 

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