At least with the pandemic, the fact that I did nothing today will be seen by others as semi-reasonable I guess.
Not totally nothing; my roommates did chip in and buy me a bottle of Scotch. The first drink I have had since this whole thing started. It's been years since I've enjoyed drinking on a regular basis, but drinking in front of a computer screen, it's the worst, though I did do some good writing here under the influence a few times.
Anyways, I guess I just wanted to say "hi" to the handful of people who still show up here.
I've actually been writing a lot. I think the anger and frustration has made it difficult for me to keep my thoughts in order.
One of my heroes is a writer named Sherwood Anderson. I don't know much about him, really, only read Winesburg and nothing else, but I do recall coming across a quote, years ago, I think in the introduction to Winesburg, the old sky-blue-spined Penguin Contemporary edition that I got probably way back in 93 or 94, which is to say, when I was in middle school. The quote went something like: what we need now is a new breed of men who, at any physical cost to themselves and others, will agree to quit working, to loaf, to refuse to be hurried or try to get on in the world.
I think I'm still trying to grapple with all of the implications years later. Weirdly, I've both succeeded and failed. I certainly haven't gotten on in the world, though I don't know if I have loafed enough, that I have gained whatever one gains admiring whatever ponds or meadows happen to abut the track on which the rat race is run.
As an aside, really, because the preceding and the next paragraphs are meant to be read in sequence, before I move on though, I do want to say that what I really share in common with Mr. Anderson, besides, erm, maybe, squandered promise, is the fact that all of my best writing is done in one take, start to finish, light editing afterwards. Anderson was like this too, when he was writing Winesburg - story from start to finish in one setting, and if he stopped before completion, he'd have to scrap the whole thing and start over from scratch. I have a lot of paragraphs that I can't tie together.
It may be over soon, though. Though I don't see how. My friends, parents, are imploring, gently, thankfully, that I go back to school, but until there is additional stimulus, I don't have the money, and, even then, forgive me if I seem like I am procrastinating, but, even with the money, I don't want to spend it until in-class tutelage is universal again.
The thing is, though, I have no idea whatsoever towards what end I would take classes again. Maybe that's the point of going back, though, some focus, some discipline, and some re-opening of possibility. Maybe because I have no idea what to do, that's why I need to do it.
Still, I can almost hear my parents now, though, hopefully not, friends. I mean that's how this goes, right? Go to school, find yourself, then when you elect to take, I dunno, a course in art history or philosophy, well, it's all about getting a job, not, you know, that. I'm being vague because I think you already know what I mean. At least it will be my money this time.
And really, at my age, should I even give a shit? It's my fault - I solicit advice, I don't want to hear it. I'm sorry. Actually.
You can infer my birth year from the title of this post and, although I tend to try and avoid trafficking in generational stereotypes, I tend to think of myself as a younger member of Gen X, not an older Millennial, although, in terms of getting absolutely crushed by the various economic downturns and the high cost of living that has characterized this century so far, I guess my life has followed a more Millenial path. That being said, and for all their posturing, I don't think Millenials understand this, what makes me Gen X is the last, expired dregs of the counterculture. I remember. It doesn't exist anymore. Underneath, I think, even the most superficially-rebellious acts of, sorry, rebellion, that I've seen over the last decade or so, is a desire for recognition within the system being rebelled against.
I think I'm digressing. You tell me.
The thing about the counterculture is, well, a lot of younger Marxists want to write it all off, I think, as just more rich kid posturing and just petit Bourg. reactionary blah blah, to see it through contemporary eyes and only by the end result, not what was attempted. It's a cliche to say that history is written by the victors, but it's worth noting that in this context. I mean, if there was someone born in '45 or '55 or '65 or whatever, who tried to stay true, all the way through, would you even know who they were? And whose failure would that be? And what failure would that be?
It's funny. Every time I've tried to dip my toes back into trying to participate in the world of people who think and talk and write for a living, and, especially, really, especially, when it comes to those who self-describe as socialist or left or liberal or radical or whatever, I've really been struck by the tremendous normatively of it all. Nobody can think of any notion of success anymore that doesn't start and end with the individual. There are so many, I don't know, architects who have so much more knowledge and so many more credentials than anyone could have dreamed of a century ago and yet, all the building are ugly. And not in any sort of transcendent way. Insofar as the word "elite" can connote excellence, not just income or influence, I don't even know why we bother calling anyone by that word anymore. Is anyone really especially any good at anything?
So it's all normative all around, but without object.
And I hear the word "loser" a lot, especially amongst those who claim to stand against the present. It's really silly, when you think about it: "the system sucks" and yet it's imperative to make someone feel bad if they aren't winning within it?
Critique is just a brand. Anti-capitalism sells; it's the primary virtue of capitalism, actually.
So the thing about a counterculture, and maybe it's all bullshit in the end and this is always how it was all supposed to go, the thing about it, well there are two and I can't explain them.
First is that if you pledge allegiance to it then you no longer have to worry about being a "loser" because why worry about failing to achieve something you don't even want anyways? And also, second, and I guess related, I was reading a book by a writer who took some time to write about another book by another writer who talked about culture as a form of protection. That's what can't exist anymore. What doesn't exist anymore. The protection. The notion that one could, amongst others, come up with a set of values to live by and then to live by them as opposed to being merely subject. Protection from the judgements borne of values the one doesn't subscribe to, from the raw vicissitudes.
I don't think it will happen again anytime soon.
The thing about nowadays is that the perspectives seem to multiply in inverse proportion to that which there is to have perspectives about.
Whatever the purpose, the legacy of the counterculture is that there is only antithesis, an ever-expanding world of pluralities in opposition to something that is not there.
I don't romanticize the Beats, but I do wonder, what would Kerouac think about a world where the coffee shops that feature patrons who have read his work are the most expensive coffee shops? It's a pretty dumb question.
And anyways, I'm running out of ideas.
I feel weird about where I am.
Honestly, I think I've avoided a lot of bullshit. But that's just antithesis, too.
The funny thing about being a server, or at least, I don't know what things will be like apres vaccine, is that, if you ever read me here and were thinking you were looking into some portal of how the other whatever lives, the thing it, it's all rich kids, too, ambitious, and if I end up getting out of restaurants, it'll be for the same reasons I got in.
Until then, I'll