Monday, August 11, 2008

"No One is in Control. The World is Rutterless" - Alan Moore

As I lie here at 2:30 in the a.m. watching a recap of the Olympics, hoping to get "sleepy", and contemplating the 147 things that need to be done tomorrow, I am struck with a palpable emotional overload. And, I might add, this palpable feeling has been growing steadily for years now.

What I don't exactly understand is why.

At the mere age of 38 I am saturated with desperate nostalgia for a "time better spent." I maneuver through a culture so completely different from the one I knew growing up that the thought of returning to it consumes me. I crave desperately to crawl back into a geographical and temporal womb. To kick off my shoes and put my feet up on an ottoman called "yesterday."

As a child of the 1970s, I must admit that I feel a complete and total disconnect from the youth culture of today. Not always mind you, I do teach hordes of undergraduates every semester and "connect" on various levels with various students. But, this feeling is a more macro disenchantment, ambivalence, and disenfranchisement in "general" which as a result, has left me clueless and disillusioned. I don't know how to navigate anymore - a captain without a compass or even a star to sail by. The world is rutterless...

I find something "good" everyday as there is much good in this world of ours. But, I yearn for the slower pace of my childhood. I yearn for rotary telephones, typewriters, family dinners, playing in the snow with my brother, fishing on those long, hot, dog day summer afternoons, the sting of sweat in the corners of my eyes as I reeled in a small mouth bass, the sweet plum compote that my grandmother would make, watching the four o'clock movie while eating an oatmeal raisin cookie (in a pre-cable society and on a television set that only received seven or eight channels because that's all we had). We all have a nostalgia for our childhoods, none of which were perfect, but they are remembered that way. I am not blind to the problems that I or we had back then. It's not so much that I want to go back to my childhood, I just want to go back to the 1970s - period. Did you know that while I sit around doing work - I have the Game Show Network on for several hours every day? Why? Because the re-runs of Match Game, Card Sharks, Family Feud, (and others) teleport me back to the mid to late 70s - a time where things made SENSE to me. Yes, I'm grateful for some of the "modern conveniences" of life today, but I would give them all up in a second to go back. The state of world affairs was a bloody mess then too - many dominant ideologies of that period are thankfully no longer sanctioned, political and economic matters were (as usual) chaotic, core issues that face us today were but whispers, and so forth and so on, and yet, I still would want to go, in spite of all that.

The cultural differences between 1970 and 1980 seem very small to me. The differences between 1980 and 1990 also seem insignificant. The differences between 1990 and 2000 are crater like. And 2008, just seems an extension of this chasm.

A student told me - just last week - that the technology of your average cell phone eclipses the technology put into the NASA spacecraft program that sent men to the moon. 1969. The year before I was born. That's the place I belong. I'm an anachronism in 2008. One of my heroes, Alan Moore, addresses this phenomena in the following, please watch:

Maybe I subconsciously chose a profession where I can keep the past alive and well because this society often leaves me cold.


gilligan said...

Chick, that may be the best post I have ever read. You captured my feelings dead on, and I can attest that there are many, many other genXers that would say "ditto". My spouse has the exact same sentiment, and I have sat in my windowless cubicle many a time over the years with a co-worker or two languishing in nostalgia and the good ol' days.

In fact, when I was trying to come up with a theme/subject for my blog I very nearly called it "The 21st Century Luddite", and was going to limit my posts to negative comparisons to days gone by (i.e. vinyl vs. digital music). However, I determined that this would only depress me, and resolved to find joy and pleasure in reminiscing rather than sadness and melancholy (hence, retrospace).

I'll stop here because I could literally go on all day on this subject, so I'll just say "Amen, brother" and be on my way.

Molly said...

I was born in 1982 but I would gladly go back to this seventies you speak of. I agree, good post.

Chick Young said...

Hey Gil, thanks for your feedback pal. Nice to know I'm not alone, or worse, totally cracking up.

Hello Molly. I'd gladly take you on a tour of the 70s. There were good, very good.

Bill said...

Sadly the video would not play fro me, I will try later, though I do recognize that the image is a Tarot card from the Aleister Crowley designed deck, so I am curious what Alan Moore as to say. well, I am a decade older than you my friend and even more lost. So much so I am terrified to discuss it. I am here in China pretending to be an english teacher for kids who have no interest. I feel sort of blasted by a phaser at times.

It is one reason this blog was born really. To not lose all conenction with my roots and the things I once was passionate about. At a certain point in life things become "clearer" in a less certain way. Woody Allen movies make more sense now.

I began the 12 movie meme deal but am taking a break to watch Insomnia with Al Pacino with Ivy right now. She posted lots of pics on her site from our trip if you are curious. There are a couple banner links on my page to her blog.

Well, nothing staring into the abyss and having it stare back point blank now is there. Good post... see ya Chick.

Bill said...

"nothing like staring into the abyss" I should have said... as if it matters I guess. take care...

Taliesin_ttlg said...


it is odd, being the same age as you and reading this as it is so melancholy and I wish I could think of a way to lift the melancholy... perhaps it is the virus that hit me like a frieght train last night that is making my thoughts wooly?!?

Perhaps... once limbs are not so achey, I might be able to find a real way to respond... I suspect not

JMR said...

it's interesting that you posted this now. i'm on facebook, without warning or provocation, all of a sudden people from high school that i haven't seen in over 15 years are adding me as their friend. in one case, it was one of my best friends in grade school/high school (whom i have been looking for during the 15 year period of time), so that in and of itself is amazing. in the other cases...these are people that i only had passing relationships with...and now they're saying "it's so good to see you" blah blah blah.

nostalgia is quite...wierd.

Chick Young said...

Tal - thanks mate. I appreciate your words. I don't mean to come off too melancholy, but at the same time, I certainly do want to be clear about how disgusted I am with things. I imagine I will make peace and find some sort of balance or equillibrium -

Joe, I have blissfully stayed away from facebook and will probably delete my myspace account - or modify it greatly. I think all I'm interested in - is maintaining a blog. It's about all I can handle! Facebook and Myspace are to me, at least, another way to waste valuable time! I gotta stay clear!