Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The long-slow-flushing Sayonara of Being Aware.

No, this isn't about The Fray. Etiquette doesn't hothouse in cyber-space so it never really got off the ground all that well. The Kabuki face of anonymity gives a protection to the low born tendencies of the generally inarticulate, dumpster divers of the mind.

It's the same for me as anyone, though I don't need the anonymity, when you're angry about something you're gonna rage.

Sometimes it's about one of those ongoing hangnails that never gets sorted out; justice, genocide, hunger and the like. Sometimes it's just more personal like political candidates and your version of what happened and what it means. Right now, with so much seemingly at stake, we're all a little less mannered than we might be at other times. But what happens here on the net, in our little part of it, is not likely to influence much of anything. It's just a place inside us where we go to the soapbox or the confessional. Maybe it helps us- sometimes we hope it helps others.

What's on my mind right now is the increasing indifference and cluelessness of people in general. The way I grew up, you learned manners or you caught a hand to the side of the head. Others had a better time of it by virtue of good example or a more patient form of training. I learned to say "Yes Sir. No Sir. Yes Mam" and the like. I still do.

The two generations before mine had a refinement and an awareness of space and self that you don't see that often any more. People had manners. I have to say I really appreciated that.
People told the truth quite often and they did what they said they would do.

Something happened. I noticed it in the early 80s. Right around that time there was coined the phrase, "the me generation". Before that you saw the coming emergence of ideas taught by people like Werner Erhart and L. Ron Hubbard. The First Church of Satan (me first, you later...maybe) also got a physical address in San Francisco. A new breed of selfish predators hit Wall Street. I was in New York off and on around then. I saw the way some of them lived and dined. I saw the culture of excess. I watched the coke and the expectations flow. I saw the hard gleam of self interest spread like a flu virus in all directions.

On the highways another phenomena began to grow. People started crowding each other, pushing each other, screaming at each other. You saw a lot of this through windshields and mirrors.

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Right on the heels of the call for Peace and Brotherhood came disco and cocaine. Peace and Brotherhood died of SIDS; though there has been talk that someone used a pillow.

I noticed people doing things in supermarket lines that I had never seen before. Heralding the coming of cellphones was The Walkman and The GameBoy. Anything you could find to insulate yourself from the world around you was becoming a fashion accessory.

Sure, population increase is a factor.

After awhile I noticed that people were far less interested in being noticed for what they did than for the way they looked. New efforts had to be made to stand out. So you got designer hardware for your face, navel and genitals, tattoos for wherever and hair hacked to different lengths and then sprayed stiff in whatever direction. The idea was to look like you'd just gotten out of bed. Fashion became anti-fashion which was still fashion but just didn't look very good. Then again, neither did a lot of what came before it.

Life's soundtrack changed. Kurt Cobain and a legion of whiners started screaming about themselves and all that terrific angst and other stuff I never quite understood. Then came the gangsta appearance and the transformation into 'pimps' and 'ho's'. The lingua franca went south like the dollar does now. It stands to reason that behavior would follow and that manners would be the first thing to go.

It's only since I've come to Europe that I noticed how really bad it had gotten in the US. Sure, there are rude people here, like anywhere, but among a wide body of the population, 'manners' still prevail.

Blame Hollywood, or a more ubiquitous decadence, lowered standards of what's acceptable, the indulgence of cultural demands from whoever is screaming the loudest, blame the template of Bart Simpson and Beavis and Butthead; blame can go in any direction if you're mistaking symptom for cause.

Today's Christians aren't Christians, they're "me first" Christians, they're completely intolerant, generally obtuse and it's a given that you can break any commandment if it serves Christianity. All of the religions have become organizations involved in turf wars. They're bankrupt in the one place where it counts.

Lying is acceptable, Trump's a sex symbol even with that hair. It's okay to push and shove, scream and yell, be ungrateful and sullen... why, pretty much anything- because that's sexy too.

If you hear nothing but lies and see little but examples of bad behavior, glorified as fashionable, if getting whatever you want by any means necessary is considered smart well then...

I've never seen a time where there was so little inspiration and such a wealth of bad art. All the muses have gone into hiding. I'm not about to travel the Miniver Cheevy route. I don't fancy chronic Jeremiasis and I'm not sure there isn't a point to it all anyway. If there is a point, you'd be advised to seek low density population areas.

Not a day has passed in the last two decades, when I have been in the midst of the human herd, that I haven't noticed the increasing downward slide of grace and manners. People rarely change because they suddenly realized they were wrong and rushed to make the hard changes. That little incident on the road to Damascus is not a common event. People wake up usually because something woke them up. People change when they are forced to change. I keep coming back to the same thing.

I expect we can all do our part in real life by seeking to be more open, understanding and gracious; forget for the moment the very real possibility that others will see it as a sign of weakness and strip you to the bone faster than a school of Piranha. We can, those so inclined can, do this. I expect I'll keep trying. But sometimes...

...sometimes there comes an age; "Oh generation of vipers"... some times there comes an age, a period;... "where there is no vision the people perish"... sometimes there just isn't any way out except through. Sometimes too many rude people are caught in a building where the exit doors were locked to keep people from stealing during an emergency...sometimes the space is tight and no one is going to wait. No one has any manners, even if manners might just save their life. If you're an indifferent goat with a hard dick on the highway; what will you be when the pen catches on fire? What will happen if you are penned with so many other goats with the same problem?

Sometimes it is best to find yourself a place as far away as possible. Sometimes you can only ride out the changes from a distance. Sometimes there is nothing you can do but leave. Ask Lot. The wise step far back from the stage once the performance has begun. There will be a need for help in the times to come after. It is tragic that most people cannot help themselves. Double meaning intended.

world unchanging
beneath the coverslip of fear
colorful disarray
magnificent metropolitan ruins
always in decay

I decry most
the loss of generosity to strangers

and after that-

the bad intentions of strangers upon their host
the greatest of loves it seems
must
suffer the most
somehow we reach our dreams
whatever they may be
world unchanging
wave upon the sea...

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not as exciting as "hash and trash" but pretty damned substatial. Haven

Anonymous said...

Riffing an the Boulevard
Who am I
And who are you
When rapt in the skein of phenomenology
You have become more or less
Not more than me..
That I can see
But fashionably blind..mindless, unaware
In this egalitarian thoroughfare..
I must defend my right to be..
And strike out as I move towards, where?
Les is more...Fifi