We’ve reached a weird and probably unique point in human history, here in this country, in this last couple of decades. We’ve reached a point where our culture has been consumed by its most disposable aspects (the, ahem, Pop Culture) and where we have become generally disinterested in much of anything else. And as you can see by every single previous post on this blog, I explicitly endorse that shallow and theoretically troubling state of affairs. If, in ten years time, I remember a single thing I liked today, I will be wholly disappointed in myself. I aim to live like a goldfish, and for the love of Hannah Montana, I will succeed.
What interests me is the fact that we have all given our identities over to the culture soup we are swimming in. You know me as a list of signifiers:
– I like reggae and dancehall music.
– I like death metal.
– I like spaghetti westerns.
– I like horror movies.
– I like tacos.
– Blah blah freakin’ blah.
And I know you as a list of signifiers also:
– You like reading blogs.
– You have an interest, either positive or negative, in the subject of whatever blog post my stat counter says you just read.
– You like “American Idol” (probably – statistical guess).
– Blah blah freakin’ blah.
And the funny thing is that we are happy with this little circle jerk of fake identification. If we both like death metal, we nod sagely and grin wisely and other verb-adverbs until our smug, self-validating heads explode in a maelstrom of tics and jerks. This is the only level on which we relate, and it’s the most superficial one. In fact it’s less than superficial, because actual superficiality is still part of us – it’s an atom-thin epidermal layer that nonetheless was created by and belongs to the core organism (meaning you). But the mechanism we use to identify now is entirely external to us. We relate by proxy.
We fall in love via mixtape. If she likes the songs, we’re in love. If she doesn’t, we’re not.
This is not a new idea, Diane. I’m not presenting it as one. Actually, I’m hoping that the other people who have had this idea will read it here and like me, and we’ll become idea-friends. On one other level, we can relate. Something beyond sensory preference will unite us.
I have to admit that this post is half-realized. I have something I want to yell about but no grand conclusion about what it means, or where we’re headed, or how (or even whether) it should be fixed. So instead of pulling this train into the station, I’m going to let it lose its momentum halfway between Indianapolis and Albequerque and just stop of its own accord. Maybe you’ll feel like getting the thing running again on your own time, I dunno. I leave you with this thought, as incentive: the next time somebody is in a clothing store trying something on, and someone – maybe you, maybe the clerk or a salesperson, maybe a friend or random passerby – says, “You must get that, it’s so you!”… I hope you’ll concentrate for a moment on what that really means. What it means to me is this: the vaguely person-shaped niche in our culture that you’ve chosen to occupy would totally wear that shirt. It’s not that this shirt reinforces anything essential about you. It’s that the shirt, and everything else you wear/eat/listen to/watch/read/consume, IS you. You see and announce yourself through these things so powerfully, with so much repetition, that there is actually nothing else left. There’s an external relating/signifying mechanism, and what is clinging to it is a void with your face.
Hi Diane – I’m a guy who blogs and likes “Twin Peaks” and books by Cormac McCarthy. And you are..?