Thursday, March 09, 2006

Wheel of time...

Sarah and I watching "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room" and kind of getting how nauseatingly evil these people all were in the first fifteen minutes and so drifting off into our own discussion about the meaning of decades and the apparent repeat cycle of modern times...

So, let's review... You've got the 40's (WWII, Baby Boom, do without mentality, big band), the 50's (puritanism, post war repression, McCarthyism, triumph of normalcy, the arrival of "cool," Elvis), the 60's (radical social change, drugs, expanding consciousness, excitement, the youth "party" begins, Beatles), the 70's (the party is in full swing, bad behavior, zero accountability, quantity over quality to the extreme, fake hippies, disco, punk, Led Zeppelin), the 80's (the hangover, cocaine, ego, greed, AIDS, designer, evil people have clawed their way to the top of most industries and governments, 60's-kitsch revival, Wham!), the 90's (the redemption, horrified self-awareness, let's get "real", sensitive men, tough women, social issues, Alternative and Independent, 70's-kitsch revival, punk revival, Nirvana), and now the 00's (?)...

Sarah was saying that the "oughts" are like the 50's in that the pendulum has swung back to a sort of bland conservatism and that people are too busy with their own Internet worlds to notice let alone rally against anything going on in the world. I like her model because it makes a nice tidy 50 year cycle that repeats over and over. But I was tempted to say the "oughts" are more like the 40's with a war raging over there, xenophobia masking as patriotism, and a sort baby boom taking place online where people are tending to their multiple online identities like children they want to grow up strait, cool, and strong. Actually, maybe the cycle isn't so tidy and as these decades begin to repeat they start overlapping and cross-pollenating in unexpected ways. In pop culture there is now a strongly enforced "20 years ago" kitsch revival program in place, which makes sense from a generational and marketing perspective, but could ultimately snarl the forward momentum of the space time continuum forever.

Which could be where we are now: Stuck in the mud flats with nothing but old refernce points to define our present. Where is the new voice that can reinstate progress and get us unstuck? Are we all so mired in the mud that no one can get their head up high enough to motivate us towards some new future? Have we fractalized society into millions and millions of "me" units dedicated to servicing their smallest needs with the infinite (and sad) personal choices the marketplace plies us with? (LA Moment: "Sir, would you like to see our mustard cart before you eat that sandwich?")

All I can say is, I'll take the whole-grain honey Dijon at room temperature, please.


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