Skip to comments."The future was going to be awesome..."
Posted on 10/31/2008 7:17:09 AM PDT by B-Chan
The love of chrome-and-glass modern restaurants is probably due to one place, which Ive mentioned before the Erie Jr. in Detroit Lakes, MN. It had a counter, a high ceiling, plastic booths in vivid hues, a roof that looked like it space ships could dock in the back, and it had that space-age vibe that shimmered off so many new things when I was very young. We had a keen sense of the future then; we knew the toys we had today would be the tools of the future. You know how you put your hand out the window when you were going fast, and undulated it up and down like a dolphin, riding the oncoming wind? The future felt like that. The future was a chrome-trimmed triangular window in the front of dads car, and it had its own knob to open it up. The future was a hamburger under a light fixture that looked like an atom. The future was going to be awesome.
I still get impatient with people who insist that it cant be. Pessimists can be such bores, and its lazy to believe the worst. Whats the line about Scaramouche: he was born with the gift of laughter and the sense that the world was mad. I dont think thats the best modus vivendi, but it beats teaching yourself the curse of scowling and the sense that its all a grind to be endured until the tomb gapes wide, and the only respectable intellectual pose is a Menckenian disdain for those who refuse to see how shallow, small, vacuous and contemptible they are.
I blame the boomers, of course. ;) If youre going to make a fetish out of the Authentic Values of Adolescence, with its withering critiques of humanity, then youre going to value the slouch and the sneer as signs of a Deep and Serious Person. The Boomers were handed a Utopian ideal practical, technocratic, rational, with silver wheels in the sky tended over by engineers and scientists - and they abandoned it for a Dionysian version based on wrecking and remaking the world theyd inherited. Their patron saint: Holy St. Caulfield, who identified the greatest sin in the human soul: being a phoney. Better to be an authentic bastard than someone who cannot successfully convince a teenager that some ideas have an importance that transcend the ability of the individual to manifest them 24/7.
Of course they got sour; if you believe a Utopia is possible if we just retinker human behavior to eliminate greed and dress codes and football and anything else that reminds us of Dad, be it the specific one or the unseen National Dad that rules the boardrooms and bedrooms and cloakrooms of DC, then the failure of this world makes it a dystopia, the worst of all possible worlds.
Some suggest that the great disenchantment began with the assassination of JFK, and I see the point. But its strange that it led to a loss of faith in us, given who shot the President. (Yes, Im one of those lone-gunman wackos. Im a freethinker! I refuse to accept concensus!) If Oswald had been a card-carrying Kluxer or a dead-ender Bircher or some sort of far-right-wing nutcase, I wonder if we would have accepted the Warren Commission and moved along. But no, he was a Communist. Well obviously there has to be more to it, then. Same with Sirhan Sirhan: his motivation will forever be a mystery, wont it?
Once you start to believe in the dark shadowy forces, youre done with the world. Youre done engaging it, youre done enjoying it. Theres no point. Its a sham, a shell, a shiny façade erected by the Jews / Bilderburgers / Trilateral Commission/ Council on Foreign Relations / Project for a New American Century / Masons / Knights Templar / Illuminati / Federal Reserve / Rockefeller-Royal Family Nexus / Bush Crime Syndicate / League of Grim Intent, and all you can do is post on the internet and call talk radio to argue with the hosts who think were free people.
Its nice to see hope abroad in the land again, but I wonder who will be to blame when human nature asserts itself and the manna shipments fall behind. Someone has to be blamed, after all. Its not the task thats a fools errand. Its the fools who refuse to believe in the task.
Well, thats enough tendentious overgeneralization for the week...
Of course they got sour; if you believe a Utopia is possible if we just retinker human behavior to eliminate greed and dress codes and football and anything else that reminds us of Dad, be it the specific one or the unseen National Dad that rules the boardrooms and bedrooms and cloakrooms of DC, then the failure of this world makes it a dystopia, the worst of all possible worlds."
This is an excerpt. Please read the full article.
Wonderfully written. I enjoyed reading it.. all of it. Thanks.
Thanks for the post - always enjoy Lileks.
I blame the boomers, of course. ;)
Don’t forget to take the link to his resaurant page. Well worth the click.
Ping list for the discussion of the politics and social (and sometimes nostalgic) aspects that directly effects Generation Reagan / Generation-X (Those born from 1965-1981) including all the spending previous generations are doing that Gen-X and Y will end up paying for.
Freep mail me to be added or dropped. See my home page for details and previous articles.
Somehow this “vibe” must be out there because I have just been discussing a piece I have had on my computer for a very long time. It is an essay written in 1969 by Ayn Rand where she uses the moon landing and Woodstock to compare two types of thinking. She also deals extensively with the way the media celebrated Woodstock (culturally) and dismissed the moon landing. Here is a small exerpt from the MUCH longer essay:
The hippies are wrong, however, when they fancy themselves to be rebels. They are distilled essence of the Establishments culture, they are the embodiment of its soul, they are the personified ideal of generations of crypto-Dionysians now leaping into the open.
The hippies were taught by their parents, their neighbors, their tabloids and their college professors that faith, instinct and emotion are superior to reason-and they obeyed. They were taught that material concerns are evil, that the State or the Lord will provide, that the Lilies of the Field do not toil-and they obeyed. They were taught that love, indiscriminate love, for ones fellow-men is the highest virtue-and they obeyed. They were taught that the merging of ones self with a herd, a tribe or a community is the noblest way for men to live-and they obeyed.
There isnt a single basic principle of the Establishment which they do not share-there isnt a belief which they have not accepted.
When they discovered that this philosophy did not work-because, in fact, it cannot work-the hippies had neither the wit nor the courage to challenge it; they found, instead, an outlet for their impotent frustration by accusing their elders of hypocrisy-as if hypocrisy were the only obstacle to the realization of their ideals. And-left blindly, helplessly lobotomized in the face of an inexplicable reality that is not amenable to their feelings-they have no recourse but to the shouting of obscenities at anything that frustrates their whims, at men or at a rainy sky, indiscriminately , with no concept of the difference.
It is typical of todays culture that these exponents of seething, raging hostility are taken as advocates of love.
Avowed anti-materialists whose only manifestation of rebellion and of individualism takes the material form of the clothes they choose to wear, are a pretty ridiculous spectacle. Of any type of nonconformity, this is the easiest to practice, and the safest.
But even in this issue, there is a special psychological component: observe the hippies choice of clothing. It is not intended to make them look attractive, but to make them look grotesque. IT is not intended to evoke admiration, but to evoke mockery and pity. One does not make oneself look like a caricature unless one intends ones appearance to plead: Please dont take me seriously.
And there is a kind of malicious wink, a contemptuous sneer, in the public voices acclaiming the hippies as heroes.
This is what I would call the court-jester premise. The jester at the court of an absolute monarch was permitted to say anything and to insult anyone, even his master, because the jester had assumed the role of a fool, had abdicated any claim to personal dignity and was using self-abasement as his protection.
The hippies are a desperate herd looking for a master, to be taken over by anyone; anyone who would tell them how to live, without demanding the effort of thinking. Theirs is the mentality ready for a Führer.
The hippies are the living demonstration of what it means to give up reason and to rely on ones primeval instincts, urges, intuitions-and whims. With such tools they are unable to grasp even what is needed to satisfy their wishes-for example, the wish to have a festival. Where would they be without the charity of the local squares who fed them? Where would they be without the fifty doctors, rushed from New York to save their lives-without the automobiles that brought them to the festival-without the soda pop and beer they substituted for water-without the helicopter that brought the entertainers-without all the achievements of the technological civilization they denounce? Let to their own devices, they literally didnt know enough to come in out of the rain.
Their hysterical incantations of worship of the now were sincere: the immediate moment is all that exists for the perceptual-level, concrete-bound, animal-like mentality; to grasp tomorrow is an enormous abstraction, an intellectual feat open only to the conceptual (i.e., the rational) level of consciousness.
Hence their state of stagnant, resigned passivity: if no one comes to help them, they will sit in the mud. If a box of Cocoa Puffs hits them in the side, theyll eat it; if a communally chewed watermelon comes by, theyll chew it; if a marijuana cigarette is stuck into their mouth, theyll smoke it. If not, not. How can one act, when the next day or hour is an impenetrable black hole in ones mind?
And how can one desire or feel? The obvious truth is that these Dionysian desire-worshipers do not really desire anything. The little parasite who declared: I have to have whatever I want for the rest of my life, did not know what he wanted; observe the whatever in his statement. Neither did the girl who announced that she would try everything at least once. All of them are looking desperately for somebody who will provide them with something they will be able to enjoy or to desire. Desires, too, are a product of the conceptual faculty.
But there is one emotion which the hippies do experience intensely: chronic fear. If you have seen any of them on television, you have seen it leaping at you from the screen. Fear is their brand, their hallmark; fear is the special vibration by which they claim to recognize one another.
I have mentioned the nature of the bond uniting the admirers of Apollo 11: the brotherhood of values. The hippies, too, have a brotherhood, but of a different kind: it is the brotherhood of fear.
It is fear that drives them to seek the warmth, the protection, the safety of a herd. When they speak of merging their selves into a greater whole, it is their fear that they hope to drown in the undemanding waves of unfastidious human bodies. And what they hope to fish out of that pool is the momentary illusion of an unearned personal significance.
But all discussions or arguments about the hippies are almost superfluous in the face of one overwhelming fact: most of the hippies are drug addicts.
Is there any doubt that drug addiction is an escape from an unbearable inner state, from a reality one cannot deal with, from an atrophying mind one can never fully destroy? If Apollonian reason were unnatural to man, and Dionysian intuition brought him closer to nature and truth, the apostles of irrationality would not have to resort to drugs. Happy, self-confident men do not seek to get stoned.
Drug addiction is the attempt to obliterate ones consciousness, the quest for a deliberately induced insanity. As such, it is so obscene an evil that any doubt about the moral character of its practitioners is itself an obscenity.
Such is the nature of the conflict of Apollo versus Dionysus.
You have all heard the old bromide to the effect that man has his eyes on the stars and his feet in the mud. It is usually taken to mean that mans reason and his physical senses are the element pulling him down to the mud, while his mystical, supra-rational emotions are the element that lifts him to the stars.
This is the grimmest inversion of many in the course of mankinds history. But, last summer, reality offered you a literal dramatization of the truth: it is mans irrational emotions that bring him down to the mud; it is mans reason that lifts him to the stars.
(December 1969-January 1970)
Apollo And Dionysus
Essay from The New Left:
The Anti-Industrial Revolution
Dang, this thread captures and distills the essence of today’s messed up world.
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