athelind: (cue howard)
[personal profile] athelind
Last year, I posted an LJ entry that said that the defining moment for our generation wasn't when man set foot on the Moon, but when we turned away.

Most of my commentators, bless their literal souls, thought I was just talking about the space program, and at that stage in my recovery, I wasn't quite up to clarifying the symbolic and metaphorical dimensions of the statement.

I picked up a copy of Fight Club last week, and [livejournal.com profile] thoughtsdriftby and I plugged it in on Friday night. This is the quintessential movie of my generation.

It comes closer than anything else to explaining exactly what I meant.

Preach it, Tyler:
I see all this potential, and I see it squandered. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables — slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won't. We're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.


You are keeping tabs on the Occupy Wall Street protests, aren't you? If not, check out http://boingboing.net, and, as the Good Book said, consult your pineal gland.

Fnord.



EDIT: The first comment on the post has forced an addendum, hopefully early enough in the morning to catch most my Loyal Audience on their first read-through:

I really do appear to only be able to communicate half of what's going on in my brain at any one point.

I said Fight Club was "the quintessential movie of my generation". I didn't say "Tyler Durden is a Divine Prophet."

[livejournal.com profile] notthebuddha was close -- Tyler's rant is HALF the truth. Pahulnik, in this speech, succinctly describes the malaise afflicting Generation X. We came into a world of progress and potential—we were literally promised the Moon—only to have it ripped away from us.

"Ah, never mind that. Here, have a crappy job and an apartment full of cheap furniture. Oh, wait. We're shipping the crappy jobs overseas. Why aren't you paying for your cheap furniture anymore?"

Fight Club is, in many ways, a cautionary tale. Sometimes, we all find ourselves in Tyler Durden's headspace, entertaining fantasies of just randomly beating the crap out of someone, or blackmailing your pissant boss, or taking your hands off the wheel as you ram the accelerator into the floorboards just to see what happens.

You can deny that and repress it and end up like the Narrator, or you can face it head on and channel it.

When you subtract the explosives, the beating the crap out of each other in basements, and the long-term goal of hunting moose in the vine-covered towers of the city, Tyler's idea of "zeroing out the credit system" sounds a hell of a lot more rational and productive than bailing out the banks for using fraud and doubletalk to rope thousands of people into mortgages they couldn't afford. The banks wound up with the houses and the money; if the bailouts had gone to the swamped homeowners themselves, the banks would have still gotten their money, and we'd still have an economy instead of a shattered, broken population.

At some point, you've got to take a stand. You've got to get angry.

You don't have to go mad and tear everything down. I brought Occupy Wall Street into the end of the post to say, "this is Project: Mayhem done right." It's not a riot. It's not terrorism. It's taking a stand. It's an ever-increasing circle of people gathering together and saying, "We've had enough. No more."

Take a look at the icon I used for this post. I know exactly how things ended for that guy, too. But sometimes, things reach a point where you've got to listen to all the Mad Prophets, all the Tyler Durdens and the Howard Beales, so you can see what drove them mad and make it stop.

You don't have to go mad to say you're not gonna take it anymore.

Fnord.


Date: 2011-10-04 09:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] notthebuddha.livejournal.com
Dude, did you guys fall asleep before the end? Tyler's rant is literally only half the truth, and completely subverted as self-destructive (again, literally).

Date: 2011-10-04 12:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] athelind.livejournal.com
I really do appear to only be able to communicate half of what's going on in my brain at any one point.

I said it was "the quintessential movie of my generation". I didn't say "Tyler Durden is a Divine Prophet."

You're close -- it's HALF the truth. Pahulnik, in this speech, succinctly describes the malaise afflicting Generation X. We came into a world of progress and potential—we were literally promised the Moon—only to have it ripped away from us.

"Ah, never mind that. Here, have a crappy job and an apartment full of cheap furniture. Oh, wait. We're shipping the crappy jobs overseas. Why aren't you paying for your cheap furniture anymore?"

Fight Club is, in many ways, a cautionary tale. Sometimes, we all find ourselves in Tyler Durden's headspace, entertaining fantasies of just randomly beating the crap out of someone, or blackmailing your pissant boss, or taking your hands off the wheel as you ram the accelerator into the floorboards just to see what happens.

You can deny that and repress it and end up like the Narrator, or you can face it head on and channel it.

When you subtract the explosives, the beating the crap out of each other in basements, and the long-term goal of hunting moose in the vine-covered towers of the city, Tyler's idea of "zeroing out the credit system" sounds a hell of a lot more rational and productive than bailing out the banks for using fraud and doubletalk to rope thousands of people into mortgages they couldn't afford. The banks wound up with the houses and the money; if the bailouts had gone to the swamped homeowners themselves, the banks would have still gotten their money, and we'd still have an economy instead of a shattered, broken population.

At some point, you've got to take a stand. You've got to get angry.

You don't have to go mad and tear everything down. I brought Occupy Wall Street into the end of the post to say, "this is Project: Mayhem done right." It's not a riot. It's not terrorism. It's taking a stand. It's an ever-increasing circle of people gathering together and saying, "We've had enough. No more."

Take a look at the icon I used for the original post. I know exactly how things ended for that guy, too. But sometimes, things reach a point where you've got to listen to all the Mad Prophets, all the Tyler Durdens and the Howard Beales, so you can see what drove them mad and make it stop.

Date: 2011-10-04 04:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kores-rabbit.livejournal.com
Now, I have the music from that movie in my head. Where is my mind, after all?

Date: 2011-10-04 06:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] paka.livejournal.com
I do think the effective end of the space program is a valid point for metaphor;

1. The newly-minted Ming China launched a huge number of voyages overseas with its new found prosperity. There were Chinese ships anchored off what's now Kenya. And then boom, nothing. The Ming government decided that it was too expensive to do this stuff. China became a rural, backwards backwater instead of the world spanning power she had no reason not to become. Fast forward a few centuries and China paid for that mistake, big time. Even Portugal, the big loser in Europe's race to explore, wasn't subject to being invaded and divvied up by foreign powers while her people languished in poverty with a backwards looking government. With space, we are now repeating that mistake.

2. The space program has done some badass stuff, like Gravity Probe B. So the dream isn't dead at NASA either, but it mirrors the larger scale dream; the guys on the top are about profiteering, channeling more money to their meaningless exploitative bullshit, it's us little people who try to work in an attempt to actually do something meaningful in the spaces left.

The thing about protests is this; you cannot resort to violence. Literally, you can't. It doesn't matter how pissed off you are, because this is about the media and public perception. The police can smash cameras, mace, corral, tear-gas, rubber-bullet, beat, firehose, harass, detain for hours, the media can ignore protestors, the politicians can dismiss us as a tiny minority which doesn't really represent the public (I protested that war; I was there). But the moment someone puts a rock through a window, or a single fist connects to a policeman's chin, immediately every mainstream media thing in the country will slag us as those horrible violent awful liberals, and that's what the public will believe because it's been screamed at them so often. We must follow in the footsteps of Gandhi or King if we want to make any point at all. The danger to this is what you are seeing now; since nobody is being hurt it is easy for the collaborationist media to downplay any protest movement. Thankfully, as in Egypt and Iran, there are ways around the official media sources.

Date: 2011-10-04 08:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] athelind.livejournal.com
Bingeaux.

Date: 2011-10-04 06:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leonard-arlotte.livejournal.com
I fully expect to be shouted down for making this statement, but I really don't see what the Wall Street protesting is supposed to accomplish. It's a bunch of grubby twenty-somethings yelling that they aren't happy about the way things are being run.

Very similar to the grubby twenty-somethings of the 60s... and now they're the ones running things.

I will point something else out... these grubby twenty-somethings aren't your generation anymore. They're the next one. Your generation (and mine) had its cutoff at 1980. That was 31 years ago. These protesters are solidly in the 'millenial' generation.

Mind you, our grubby twenty-somethings tore down the Berlin Wall. Something to be said for that. But that goes along with what paka said about violence.

Date: 2011-10-04 08:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] athelind.livejournal.com
Oh, I'm well aware that it's not MY generation at the vanguard of Occupy Wall Street. As the movement snowballs, though, those "grubby 20-somethings" are being joined by increasing waves of "The (Disenfranchised) Establishment", who include the cynical, bedraggled stragglers from Generation X -- unions, veterans, even active duty military. I'll try to give a rundown on who's involved when I get home tonight.

The "grubby twenty-somethings" of the '60s accomplished a hell of a lot, especially in the arena of civil rights. Beyond that, Boomers weren't the only TwenCenGen to protest social injustice.

Date: 2011-10-04 11:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] paka.livejournal.com
The grubby 20 somethings in question are directly affected by this. They're coming into maturity having had very little of their lives outside of a recession, during which the wealthy made out like gangbusters and got concessions. This really is about whether they get a chance to be middle class or whether they're going to be poor when they're my age, or Athelind's - and by "poor" I mean "one step away from homelessness."

To some extent the only vaguely focused but definitely peeved are always a vital part of changing things. "Gaaaah fix it now" is a valid sentiment. I also want to point out that other Americans, and in fact the world, is watching; it is important that people like Europeans see that not all Americans don't give a crap about our slide into third world autocracy as long as we have easy access to "Dexter," "American Idol," and iPhones.

Date: 2011-10-04 11:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] archteryx.livejournal.com
Some of us are now *40 somethings* have have never known anything but recession, except for that very brief bit in the late 1990s. And as a virologist, I can tell you: unless you had something to do with IT, or just the right pedigree. the high-end job market in the late 1990s rather sucked, too.

Date: 2011-10-05 04:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] r-caton.livejournal.com
Ah yesss... the Thatcher years were great - if you were the shitehound doing the hiring and firing, or it was your house that went up in value a few thousand per cent or it was you that got handed your council house at a discount (and of course if you then got careful, or else you were one of those caught by increased stamp duty etc.... and you lost it all again)

Date: 2011-10-05 10:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] archteryx.livejournal.com
So you survived the UK during the Thatcher years? The Iron Bitch, the one that said there was no such thing as 'society'? She and Reagan got along famously for a reason.

Now you're trying Thatcherism all over again, and from what I hear, it ain't doing a whole lot of good. God save us if we decide to embrace austerity ourselves. It'd take our reeling goalie and kick his head right off his shoulders.

Date: 2011-10-05 07:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] paka.livejournal.com
I was a dumbass and missed the tech boom, for which I've never entirely forgiven myself. So I went from growing up poor to being a poor student and then a poor independent adult in the 90s, and then being a really poor adult in the 2000s. I kinda miss the not-being-able-to-afford-nice-stuff version of being poor, rather than the constantly-scared-of-homelessness version. Keep in mind that as a kid, back in Georgia during Reagan, I got fed a very media-edited version of what was going on, so I'm only now realizing the scope of how bad it got in the 80s.

I figure that the problems were obvious in the 60s - remember, MLK's last project (and it gets toned down, like so much about the actual guy) was this big poverty focused thing, and there was the War on Poverty as part of the Great Society. There's a lot of blame-throwing that could happen, but the short form is; nothing we have as a problem is new.

Know what other country used to pretend that everything was just coming up daisies economically, and their citizens lived in a Workers' Paradise where unions were bad things and environmental regulation got in the way of wholesome economic progress?

Date: 2011-10-05 10:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] archteryx.livejournal.com
Pretty much every fascist dictatorship circa- or post-WWII (Franco's Spain comes to mind, as does Mussolini's Italy) as well as the Soviet Union.

The fundamental problem is that our whole society is built on having a job, unless you're lucky enough to be born a trust-fund baby. When there aren't enough jobs to go around, things get real bad, real fast. When the job imbalance becomes extreme, you get 9/11 - or the Arab Spring. Wonder which path we'll take?

Date: 2011-10-04 07:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kymri.livejournal.com
The oligarchy is in full effect and democracy doesn't help; you just vote for the guy who you hope is going to use a little bit of lube.

My take on the Occupy Wall Street protests is a grand 'meh', unfortunately.

Yes, it's well-intentioned at the core of it. Yes, Wall Street is populated by criminals on the order of Pol Pot and Hitler. (Not to Godwin this conversation, but while not so many actual deaths have resulted from their collective activities, they've done literally immeasurable damage to the global economies.)

That said, Occupy Wall Street's biggest failing is it's complete and total lack of focus or message. 'Wall Street is bad' seems to be as close as they can get; there's no coherent focus, no specific goal. There's a lot of occupying and a lot of general complaining but what these protests really need is a concrete set of grievances and demands to coalesce behind and push.

For the record, it still blows my mind that we'll execute Troy Davis but as far as I can tell not a single DAY of PROBATION was doled out, rather we gave these thieves billions.

Date: 2011-10-04 11:13 pm (UTC)
richardf8: (Default)
From: [personal profile] richardf8
And it's not just the people who were bamboozled into taking ludicrous mortgages for overpriced properties who have been screwed. There is a growing cadre of people who bought houses at perfectly reasonable prices with perfectly reasonable mortgages who, thanks to this bloodless gang of robber-barons, have seen our property values dip below our remaining principle. My wife and I are in the unfortunate position of trying to sell in this market for the very simple reason that our neighbors have a set of habits that trigger our asthma. You are right - the bailouts should have gone to the folks who stood to lose their houses, not to the robber barons who sold them a bill of good.

As for the comparison made by another commenter about Hitler and Pol Pot - not quite. I know nothing about Pol Pot, but Hitler came to power on the anger of the everymen of a raped German economy. These folks aren't like Hitler, but rather they are the ones who have created the conditions in which someone like him can achieve power.

November 2016

S M T W T F S
  12345
6 78 9101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930   

Tags

Page generated Oct. 16th, 2017 09:52 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios