Monday, August 1, 2011

Assemble The Ways

Writing in withering heat is an endurance test. My sublet has no air conditioning and resembles the box in Cool Hand Luke. Fans spread warm air around. Cold baths and showers briefly help, but soon the sauna returns. I sweat over notebooks, salty drops smudging my longhand. I wanted retro conditions so I really can't complain. Mencken dealt with summer heat by writing in his underwear. Ginsberg wrote nude, but I don't think it took heat to inspire him.

This book, or whatever it is, has become hand-to-hand combat. It's the oddest project I've ever tackled. It's also the deepest. Snapshots of a dead age. Images that spill into my dreams. Emotions not fully understood. Sadness and elation in the same breath.

I slog through it all, piecing together fragments, hoping to realize a whole. I thought writing about another person's life was taxing. Try exploring yours without romance or embellishment. No wonder so many writers simply make-up their "memoirs." It's a hell of a lot easier and more entertaining. Who really cares if you didn't have a threesome with Soviet gymnasts? Think big.

Meanwhile the brutal world passes by. Fascist violence in Norway. State-sponsored violence from Syria to Libya. Rupert Murdoch's criminal phone hacking network. And of course President Hope's inevitable attack on Social Security and Medicare.

It's redundant to note that only a Democrat could get away with this, yet it's all too true. That the liberal savior is overseeing the cuts must really sting his followers. I'm tempted to say they have it coming, but after Obama's debt deal with our owners' reactionary wing, we're all going to get it. Schadenfreude is pointless.

This won't stop liberals from voting again for Obama. Nothing would. Obama knows this and serves his real base. The slaves will come crawling, thinking that their votes will stave off ruin and plunder. All they're doing is ratifying further political attacks on themselves. The brighter slaves understand and rationalize. The dimmer slaves smile and beg for more. Our owners remain untouched, free to milk the system anytime they choose. Their press agents insist that we're the envy of the world. Many of us believe it or want to, crumbling infrastructure to the contrary.

Old family photos portray a shinier past, when American power and wealth was at its zenith. Big cars, new neighborhoods, expanding consumer confidence. I bitch about today's tech toys, but looking back to my childhood, there were countless toys to go around. People bought the bullshit because they were able to buy things. For people my age and older, the steady American decline has been quite amazing to witness. It doesn't seem real, but that's the privilege of living in an imperial country. Fantasy is always an option.

I'm guessing this is why so many kids are jaded and cruel. What do they have to look forward to? What's it like to be a teen or young adult in this era? I haven't the slightest and desire none. I still believe another world is possible, but this may be age talking. Who can focus on alternatives when the life boats are sinking?