There is a style of story that is “We’re all rich and depressed and looking to forget how rich and depressed we are.” Unfortunately I think it’s become not just a style of story, but a way people see the world. Which, of course, is what stories are: a lens through which we see the world. And this particular “heartbreak fo being well off and having kids and a house” way of looking at things is something that seems to have struck sometime in the late sixties as the “chic” or “cool” way to look at the world. It informed much of New Wave SF and a lot of the “literary” fiction they were trying to emulate. And it’s not that it leaves me cold. Most of the time it leaves me rolling my eyes and wondering if we shouldn’t bring back the pillory.
I followed this link from Instapundit a couple of days ago and found myself facing another of those “we look happy from the outside, but our lives are a self inflicted hell and this is how everyone lives” stories. And, quite frankly, wanting to slap everyone mentioned in it, good and hard.
It reminded me of reading Bright Lights Big City where the guy was supposed to be from my generation and everyone in my generation was supposed to be like this, because the editors buying books all knew my generation was self-centered and cared only for self satisfaction, unlike the sainted sixties people who were caring and against the war (or afraid to be drafted into it and self centered, but never mind that.)
Through their eyes, the fact we told them to put their sit-ins, and their love-ins too where the sun don’t shine and cut our hair and went to work – often at a very early age – meant we were sell-outs, establishment stooges and everything that was wrong with THEIR parents. Now, of course, as they are afraid to slip off into irrelevancy they’re trying to claim everyone to sixty four was part of their generation, but I was born in 62, and I don’t have Alzheimers. I remember being called selfish and self centered because I wouldn’t be a good little girl and question all authority that they told me to question.
Ahem. Sorry. As I said before I have a cold war injury, it only hurts when I laugh. And the generation before mine is more likely to make me cry.
And before you people who are ten years older than I resent it – look, I’m not talking about the guy on the street. I’m talking about the opinion makers, the entertainment leaders and everyone who crafted this “boomer” image. (And those who are only ten years older than I are already at the end of that curve. My brother was born in 54 and he always considered himself to have been born the last or the second to last year of the baby boom. By that time they had precious little in common with post war babies.)
The bommer image is something else again, manufactured by the media, and, to believe Soviet archives, soviet agit prop. BUT to the extent that has been swallowed whole, it is responsible to a great extent for the problem of the people in that article I read.
I don’t know how widespread this is, or if this woman who wrote it is completely insane. BUT it is the “accepted narrative” for what it’s like to be young, married, with kids. It has been that way since I was young, married with kids.
Supposedly the BURDEN of conforming and growing up is so terrible, you have to do dope on the side, or run around sleeping with everything that moves, or try to be young and transgressive.
Because being transgressive is cool, man. It’s where it’s at. All the hep chicks and cats do it. We have to stick it to the man, and speak truth to Powah!
(Excuse me while I rinse my typing fingers in moliatic accid.) If the previous sounds dated it is because is. This is because the lingo is from the sixties. However, it is still the prism through which school is being taught and enforced. And it is still distorting our culture.
There have been several articles hailing the death of cool and the idea that life is supposed to be permanent teen rebellion. But they’re missing the point.
At this point “cool” – sleeping around, doping, being a perpetual adolescent – is not rebellion. It is what every generation from mine on was told they SHOULD do. Rebellion has become conformism. The pierced kids with multiple tattoos? They’re the ones doing what their boomer parents and teachers tell them. “Rebel, stick it to the man. Refuse to grow up.”
The pierced kids with multiple tattoos are the ones who are considered deep thinkers and “serious” at least if they come from the “right” families. It’s the kids who write about how horrible the world is and how the entire thing needs to be run by government, or the ones who earnestly wish they’d grown up in their parents generation, who are considered “rebels” and worth listening to. Instead, they’re the kids who, in the fifties, would be wearing a three piece suit.
There are other reasons for the horribleness detailed in that article. The refusal to grow up is also anchored in a society too wealthy to punish it. It is aided and abetted by guilt over material achievements which comes from having been taught fantasy – Marxist – finite pie economics, in which nothing is created, nothing is destroyed, everything just is endlessly redistributed. And it is worsened by a child-raising ethos that requires the parent to be a combination empath and saint, capable of affecting behavior without even a swat to the behind. (Yes, there are children who don’t need those. And after four, mine didn’t. We could reason with them, then. Most kids do need it, however. Not beating, but a swat to the behind. Look, guys, all great apes spank. While we’re not apes, we are too. You can’t have it both ways and say we should never spank, but we’re creatures of nature and should behave naturally. Well, you can, but it’s irrational and means you’ve swallowed the “noble savage child” whole.) Requiring EVERY parent to control EVERY child at all times through mental ju-jitsu puts so much strain on the parents, that it’s a wonder more of them don’t crack.
HOWEVER over all that joyless “bad behavior” and conformist “rebelling because it’s expected of us” sounds like a serious case of having internalized a prior generation’s priorities which are no longer appropriate, if indeed they ever were.
I say rebel for real. Love your husband. Don’t sleep around. Grow up. Think of your husband and family before you think of your own little psychodrama.
When I was a conflicted teen, I found that concentrating on OTHERS’ needs and problems kept me sane and helped me grow up. Maybe that’s something to do. And maybe learn to enjoy hanging out with your family. Maybe don’t do pot just to conform. Maybe don’t get drunk and talk dirty just because it’s expected of you. Maybe find out who you are for real and enjoy that.
It’s okay to enjoy being an adult. A lot of us do.
Oh, I know, it’s not hip or cool and the entertainment establishment will think you’re hopeless. Have you noticed those guys are not so important anymore? In fact, you could say they were withering away, and old fashioned.
They are the man. The man wants you to dope and fornicate and get drunk.
Don’t do it. Stick it to the man. Speak truth to power.
“It’s been a long time coming, but I know change gonna come, oh yes it will.”