In the United States a man builds a house in which to spend his old age, and he sells it before the roof is on; he plants a garden and lets it just as the trees are coming into bearing; he brings a field into tillage and leaves other men to gather the crops; he embraces a profession and gives it up; he settles in a place, which he soon afterwards leaves to carry his changeable longings elsewhere. If his private affairs leave him any leisure, he instantly plunges into the vortex of politics; and if at the end of a year of unremitting labor he finds he has a few days’ vacation, his eager curiosity whirls him over the vast extent of the United States, and he will travel fifteen hundred miles in a few days to shake off his happiness. Death at length overtakes him, but it is before he is weary of his bootless chase of that complete felicity which forever escapes him.
At first sight there is something surprising in this strange unrest of so many happy men, restless in the midst of abundance. The spectacle itself, however, is as old as the world; the novelty is to see a whole people furnish an exemplification of it.
Tocqueville wrote this in 1831, but here’s a recent NYT article on the same subject: America the Anxious
the promise of democratic happiness is anxiety-inducing.Filed in QOTD, things you can do | Tagged with affluenza, anxiety, happiness, Tocqueville | Comment (0)
Murray Bookchin wrote:
“Radical politics in our time has come to mean the numbing quietude of the polling booth, the deadening platitudes of petition campaigns, carbumper sloganeering, the contradictory rhetoric of manipulative politicians, the spectator sports of public rallies and finally, the knee-bent, humble plea for small reforms—in short, the mere shadows of the direct action, embattled commitment, insurgent conflicts, and social idealism that marked every revolutionary project in history. … What is most terrifying about present-day ‘radicalism’ is that the piercing cry for ‘audacity’—‘L’audace! L’auduce! Encore l’auduce!’—that Danton voiced in 1793 on the high tide of the French revolution would simply be puzzling to the self-styled radicals who demurely carry attaché cases of memoranda and grant requests into their conference rooms … and bull horns to their rallies.”Filed in politics and news, QOTD, things you can do | Tagged with #ows, affluenza | Comment (0)
i have been down lately. and when i say down i mean like, feeling the bottom. do you know what the bottom feels like? i thought everyone did, but recently a friend of mine told me he’d just experienced a “bad day” for the first time that he could remember – like, 15-20 years. and my mind was sort of blown. that’s possible for a sane person?
the other day as we drove through west oakland i thought about this, about what he said, and i thought that it seemed impossible to me, to have that kind of mentality, when 1. all of the atrocities in the world are visible on every street corner and 2. to me it appears that all of us are always standing on the edge of a cliff. every day, living on the edge, the potential for falling into the abyss present with every breath taken, and that the spectrum of awareness goes from paralyzed with fear at one end to completely oblivious and doing cartwheels at the other.
i am not paralyzed but i am always aware of the edge.
later that night, my head buried in my pillow, i bemoaned my disposition and jay said “you just have to let go.” and i said: “how can i let go when i feel like i’m balancing on the edge?” he agreed with me, which is why i love him, but i’m sure there is some platitude about “faith” or something.
to be clear i know that there is nothing either objectively or subjectively “wrong” with my life. in fact it is by most standards BLESSED and i am not ungrateful. i am also aware of this idea of “creating your own reality” and choosing to ignore atrocities. i can’t. i can’t live in this world full of torture and persecution and injustice and just “focus on myself” and my beautiful friends and my beautiful life. yeah, if i blocked all that out – starting from my doorstep in west oakland to the regimes of oppression worldwide – life would be fucking grand!
and if you try to tell me you live the best, most non-consumer non-imperialistic socially-conscious life possible and that is all you can do so why not focus on your own happiness the rest is out of your hands/isn’t being a happy human a greater asset to the world than an angry one? i will 1. point out that your reading this on a computer/gadget made in China negates that defense about you not willingly having anything to do with atrocity and 2. respectfully and sort of jealously disagree while acknowledging that this is an ancient philosophical/POV debate.
the weird thing is, despite all this psychological torment i put myself through, and despite these occasions where i feel weighed down, overall i think i’m actually a happy person. just maybe not an optimist.
the point is that some days i don’t know how to take a step back from the edge, that edge where i can feel the present and future stew of everything and everyone, nothing and no one and feel like i am/we are falling forward.
anyway, stress work existential angst anxiety fear of the unknown self-doubt global unrest blah blah blah i did not have a good weekend and let’s not get any deeper into that other than to say that while yes, it is possible i might benefit from some therapy and/or medication, at the same time i am also always fighting my way back to the top so don’t worry too much (mom). i’m just emotional and dramatic.
as is often the case when i am down, my chronic shoulder/back pain flared up again yesterday to a more than just annoying degree. the fact that it’s been almost a year since i’ve written about it says a lot about how under control i have this still-undefined thing, but it has not been gone, oh no, and i have to be hypervigilant with my PT, and when i am down there, in the bottom my friend doesn’t feel? i am not vigilant. i am the opposite of vigilant. i am destructive. and if you are me and you live in San Francisco in the year 2012 you have access to a lot of tools for self-destruction.
so yesterday i was whiny and in pain and i didn’t sleep well last night and needed to not be typing and all that so today i only went to work for a couple of hours but that was OK because it was sunny and 72 degrees in february and so i left work and biked across town and went and hung out outside at cafe in downtown oakland until time for yoga. I KNOW, RIGHT? see why i’m depressed? #affluenza
this DJ person i live with is playing electronic music of whatever microgenre that is he plays (i’ll keep out of that debate) – i do not listen to electronic music unless said DJ is playing it at home or/ i am out dancing. i was actually quite offended when an old phish friend said “oh right you only listen to electronic music now” when i didn’t know some new band. on evenings when he is doing this, i am often in the bathroom listening the Velvet Underground or somesuch while i do one of any number of beauty treatments on myself (it’s only been 10 days since i last bleached my hair and i am already unhappy with the color gradient. UGH. maybe maryann is right; i should shave my head. ANYWAY.)
so just now i was there in the shower listening to Built to Spill Perfect From Now On (1997) which is still, now, 9 years after i first heard it on KALX, also while in the shower one morning sometime in 2003 when we lived in that brownshingle on Benvenue avenue in berkeley- wow that was a long time ago and wow it’s been since 2006 that we saw them live? holy crap. – it is still one of my favorite end-to-end albums to listen to from the first track to the last (my friend Allie talks about doing elliptical workout jams to rock music and i could def bust a long elliptical jam to Perfect From Now On.)
all that is to say that you should listen to it if you never have.
and also if any of you out there are going to good indie/psych/punk/emo rock shows in SF will you clue me in? i’m looking at you 40goingon28.
my younger sister used to say i was mean. and i was always defensive – no i’m not! i love people. LOVE. but the older i get, i think she was/is right. i can be CRUEL/i don’t know why. i mean, a guy i know who has the word “evil” as part of his nickname told me at the club on friday night that he has always stayed away from me because i seemed like someone he didn’t want to fuck with. am i really that unapproachable? man. but i am so soft on the inside.
and to cap off this completely boring old-skool whatididtoday/iamsoEmo blog post, here is what i ate today: Continue reading »Filed in autobiographical, food, health & vegetarianism, me myself and i, music | Tagged with affluenza, anxiety, optimism/pessimism, pain management | Comments (4)
i heard today was a lucky day, 11/11/11. so in the spirit of making wishes on lucky days, let us itemize the list of crazy plans i have in mind in over the next 10 months (after November Austerity is over, of course!):
- visit family in Michigan sometime before it snows too much (=in the next 30 days?)
- New York City + Puerto Rico for Christmas +NYE 2011
Phish @ Madison Square Garden New Year’s Run (not NYE but one of the other nights?)tried, did not get tickets
- Utah – January? SLC or Zion?
- weeklong yoga retreat in Mexico – February
- Montana/Glacier NP – April?
- Cruise from Seattle to Alaska, May 2012, with both of our families (not only a crazy plan – actually booked)
- Iceland, June/July 2012 to chase the midnight sun
- August 2012: fly in/out of burning man 2012 for a 72-hour stay
- Fall 2012: NYC School of Visual Arts: Critical Theory and the Arts (MA) . for this, i need to get my shit together. a lot.
apparently the way my mind works is that while we are suffering a major Recession and i don’t have a full-time job, i should spend a lot of time and money traveling and apply to an expensive private art school in the one of the most expensive cities in the world.
anyone want to suggest anything else awesome and totally impractical i should consider adding?
Filed in autobiographical, resolutions, travel | Tagged with affluenza, NaBloPoMo, wanderlust | Comment (0)
i just spent the afternoon downtown at Occupy Oakland, and while i did not join the ride/march out to close down the Port, that wasn’t why i was there. i was there to try to figure out how i feel about what is going on, and to gauge the mood of the movement. and i am glad to report that i feel a lot better about the whole thing after today.
so everyone wants to know: what is the point? what are the goals? what are the demands? i think the wide, broadview goal is an end to corruption of our government by allowing capitalist institutions – who are focused soley on making money, whether someone gets hurt in the process or not – to buy our politicians. so for me, my personal #1 reason for supporting this movement is that i want campaign finance reform and more rules about lobbying. bank regulation, i think, falls in line under that, eventually, but if not, it is a parallel primary concern. but most of us don’t understand more specifically how to get that done. we’re not economic experts. but campaign finance reform is NOT THAT HARD.
anyway, “what do they want?” contains a whole universe of macro and micro issues ranging from those above to home foreclosures to racial injustice in the prison system to whatever other issues exist in people’s lives to be unpacked and addressed. lots of them. and so on a grand scale this needs to be thought about less as ISSUES but more about INTERESTS.
so what is the point? the point is that this is America, and for a long time people have been apathetic to the point that they have allowed themselves to be bought. there was a dream, a haze, that a large majority walked into. the American Dream got sold out. and i for one am glad that if nothing else, this is a sign that people Woke Up. i mean, my god, i thought 9/11 was going to wake people up, but somehow it really didn’t. it only entrenched people more into the dream. and so color me happy that people are talking about this and doing things and organizing events for long enough that there has been discernable impact. i admit that i can’t really tell how much of this is going to “stick”, but the longer this goes on, the more chance there is for things to stick. and i guess how far this movement gets remains to be seen, one year from now, in the 2012 election.
that’s on the domestic side. or is it? no matter how you cut it, the U.S. financial and consumer culture affects the rest of the world, and the greed and corruption here does not end at our borders. it gets exported. and hopefully these conversations about injustice and inequality here at home lead to some more understanding about how that affects the rest of the world. a friend of a friend recently said:
“ He was hoping that #ows would help people understand how they were part of a global system and those who are facing the cruelty of structural inequality in the US should also recognize how they are a part of a system that reinforces inequality globally. He was hoping that this would be a wakeup call not just about privilege in America, but American privilege writ large.”
my highest hope in my heart of hearts is that this is what eventually happens.
recently, this article went around: http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2011/10/28/attention-protestors-youre-probably-part-of-the-1-.aspx
”In America, the top 1% earn more than $380,000 per year. We are, however, among the richest nations on Earth. How much do you need to earn to be among the top 1% of the world?
jist: all you Occupiers are part of the 1% globally. you’re not starving in the Sudan or living under a facist regime. the fact that you can even PROTEST means you have nothing to protest about. so shut up!
yes, we are blessed in America, but that does not mean that we should continue to allow corruption under the flag of capitalism? absolutely not, because, as noted above, it’s not just about us – it does have a global impact. so to those who like to say that the white americans with iPhones can’t/have nothing to protest…..i understand that perspective – that from a certain viewpoint this whole thing is just a flaunt of entitlement - there is a lot of that feeling in Oakland, that protesting is something that only the rich(er) white people do – but IMO, if you flip that around, if rich(er) white people are the only ones willing and able (able to protest in the streets, able to get arrested without dire consequence, able to not be at work, able to leave their families for hours/days), then THEY ARE THE ONES WHO SHOULD.
yes, the Colbert Report segment on OWS was really funny. yes, the young people with their ideas are amusing and yes, their systems are very odd and maybe not the most effective. i’m not into physical occupation myself, and the GAs are way too tedious for my temperament. BUT that does not mean i think THEY should quit, and in fact i am SUPER EXCITED that so many people who have never participated in consensus-based community organizing are now getting to have that experience and i do believe that if nothing else, that is going to shift a lot of people’s lives.
so what is the point? the point is that people are thinking about and doing things, and whether you think that we have the RIGHT or PRIVILEGE, to me it is more important that people are OUT THERE exercising those rights and privileges than what their specific demands are. the demands will eventually evolve. but right now, the most important thing is for people to pay attention, stay awake, and contribute however, whenever, wherever works for them so that the overarching INTEREST of getting corruption out of our political and financial systems happens before America gets deeper into shit. THAT is the point.Filed in politics and news | Tagged with #occupyoakland, #occupywallstreet, #ows, affluenza, capitalism, NaBloPoMo | Comment (1)
speaking of europe: i do know that i have not written up anything more about our European Vacation, and i admit that now a lot of the details are fuzzy, and maybe i won’t. in summary: Amsterdam is a dream + i <3 bicycle culture, Berlin has taken proper advantage of the years since WWII and The Wall and become a fantastic city full of art and culture and music and i hear the only real complaint is re: WINTER, Prague is a fairytale, IMHO Vienna took the years since WWII/Communism and became overzealously Westernized and boring and i suggest maybe going to the mountains of Austria instead, Buda-Pest is funky and cool with lots of great bars and nightlife; the economy (and therefore local disposition) is slightly depressed, but i could imagine living there. what more can i say? we went to a lot of insanely beautiful churches (in two of which i was moved to light prayer candles) and walked as far as our legs would take us (i think we walked for almost 10 straight hours on my birthday in prague. oh yeah, i celebrated my 33rd birthday in prague!) and made sure to get up into the highest point possible in each city. we ate at approx 60-90 cafes/restaurants across europe and only in Vienna was ordering a problem wrt language barriers. we went to at least 20 bars and 7 music venues. we rode all kinds of trains and never for a minute did we wish we had a car.
i will go back again, maybe to revisit some of these places, but more for all the places we didn’t go, but before then i would like to visit South America and Africa (gotta get to the southern hemisphere to complete!). in my wanderlust dreams for 2010 there is: Puerto Rico (w/RBM), Cuba (with jayeesha), Chile/Peru/Argentina (helen!), as well as trips to see the family in Michigan, weddings here and there, and also the pilgrimages to Las Vegas and Burning Man. can i fit all this in while keeping a job? i think maybe.
my mom posted something to Facebook about my travels and one of her friends (possibly a relative) commented something to the effect of “i don’t understand this crazy wanderlust kids these days have”. i also recently had a conversation with another friend about how “entitled” many of us feel about travel, and all i can say is that for me, it’s not about not being happy at home or wanting to flaunt my American wealth in some poorer country by taking advantage of the exchange rates and renting a yacht. i think in this the 21st century, where the things you eat and clothes you wear often come from the other side of the planet, it is not just fickle entitlement to want to travel; it is super important for the affluent who consume most of the world’s resources to see how the rest of the world is living and where their things are coming from. for the amount of money most affluent Americans spend on unnecessary consumer goods, they could travel to a different place at least once a year, and that’s a trade i’m happy to make.
Lust for comfort suffocates the soul
Relentless restlessness liberates me
I feel at home whenever the unknown surrounds me
I receive its embrace aboard my floating house
Wanderlust! relentlessly craving
Wanderlust! peel off the layers
Until we get to the core
He bikes to work at an advertising agency, where he uses his master’s in English to proofread ad copy, and spends several hours reading music blogs and watching movie trailers, periodically Twittering updates about his workday to his 74 followers. He doesn’t really hate his job, but feels as if his skin is crawling with vermin most of the time that he’s there, so he has a plan to move to Thailand, or to maybe write a book. Or go to law school.
At her government job, she instant messages her friends and mostly ignores the report she’s drafting because she’s planning on quitting anyway — and has been planning to quit for about a year now. She spends her lunch hour buying boots that cost slightly more than her rent, then immediately regrets it.
He listlessly works through lunch, then goes to the bar after work to meet up with some university friends, where they talk about their jobs and make ironic jokes about other people. Back at home, he wonders why he feels so gross and empty after spending time with them, but it’s mostly better than being alone.
She walks to the house that she shares with three friends and spends a few more hours on celebrity gossip websites, then clicking through the Facebook photos of girls she knew in high school posing with their husbands and babies, simultaneously judging them and feeling a deep pit of jealousy, and a strange kind of loss. “When did this happen for them?” she wonders.
They both eventually fall asleep, late and alone, each of them wondering what it is that’s wrong with them that they can’t quite seem to understand.
This phenomenon, known as the “Quarterlife Crisis,” is as ubiquitous as it is intangible. Unrelenting indecision, isolation, confusion and anxiety about working, relationships and direction is reported by people in their mid-twenties to early thirties who are usually urban, middle class and well-educated; those who should be able to capitalize on their youth, unparalleled freedom and free-for-all individuation. They can’t make any decisions, because they don’t know what they want, and they don’t know what they want because they don’t know who they are, and they don’t know who they are because they’re allowed to be anyone they want.
When a contemporary 25-year-old’s parents were 25, they weren’t concerned with keeping their options open: they were purposefully buying houses, making babies and making partner. Now, who we are and what we do is up to us, unbound to existing communities, families and class structures that offer leisure and self-determination to just a few. Boomer and post-boom parents with more money and autonomy than their predecessors has resulted in benignly self-indulgent children who were sold on their own uniqueness, place in the world and right to fulfillment in a way no previous generation has felt entitled to, and an increasingly entrepreneurial, self-driven creation myth based on personal branding, social networking and untethered lifestyle spending is now responsible for our identities.
file under: 1st world problem #1. and i’ve been suffering from it for years.
the article goes on, and it’s interesting.
who am i? what am i doing? WHY?
why so bored, jaded, listless when the world is in the palm of your hand?
the article suggests a number of things but none of them seem particularly relevant to me. i’m not in debt. i have plenty of friends. i don’t have a drug or alcohol problem. i am not looking for a career. being grateful is the only thing that relieves, but it feels like a meditative medicine i have to remember take every day to fight a persistent disease. what is my cure?
this weekend, i’m going camping. that always seems to help. maybe it’s urbanity that’s the problem?
To go walking down a country road at sunset
And see colors I could almost touch right over head
To hear the gentle breeze a blowing at the treetops
No out in the country there is no talk that God is dead
to my work email address:
You have been invited by [person I don't know] to join Affluence.org. Affluence.org is an exclusive community of affluent people dedicated to making life better for both themselves and others.
As a member of Affluence.org you will have the ability to find and interact with other affluent people from around the world, evaluate and contribute to your favorite charities, and gain access to exclusive lifestyle guides to luxury living, travel and the latest trends.Within this elite community you will be provided with access to a dedicated Affluence Concierge, receive priority access to the world’s most exclusive premieres, nightclubs, parties, hotels, events and much more.
To accept the invitation to our exclusive network, please follow the link below.
as a fan of affluenza.org, i think i’ll have to pass.
Filed in culture and random linkage, things you can do | Tagged with affluenza, SNS | Comment (0)
Class reacts to economic crisis like magnets of the same polarity, it adjusts automatically.The only to do to is adjust. Cruises move down-market and “having it all” becomes being able to buy a big-screen at Wal-Mart and watch Netflix with the whole family. The affectations of affluence don’t disappear when the money does, they simply get redefined.
a much better piece on the subject of moving to a post-consumer america than what i wrote:
I grew up in Seattle, WA and was raised with the idea that money is equal to life energy and time and that it is important to spend less and wisely unless I wished to be constantly on the job and enslaved to a salary….
…To me it is seems exciting and inspiring to rely on our local communities, know our neighbors, grow our own food, barter/trade, craft our own clothes, fix our favorite pair of shoes, and enjoy each others company instead of passing the night away in front of cable TV with a frozen pizza made and packaged in Wisconsin and numbed thoughts. It gives us a positive creative way to utilize and conserve resources, combats isolation, gives us the chance to express skills that few jobs would allow, and lends to a more holistic sense of self that even folds art and spirituality back into our daily lives. It’s a revival of what I imagine my grandparents experienced growing up in rural farm towns, infused with urban DIY culture, activism, and spiritual consciousness. I know “hold on there you idealist hippie” you might be thinking, but I really think the time is ripe for it now more than ever.
It is a huge paradigm shift to think of spending less, needing less, and relying on one another more and I think this tends to comes across more like DEPRIVATION than FULFILLMENT to most Americans. Give up a Lexus and fancy French dinners before going to see “Les Miserables” to ride a bike thru the rain and play board games over home-made apple strudel? I think that living in a way that is not so strapped to the now-not-so-mighty-dollar, the ballooned American Dream, oil, and consumer materialism in general takes a lot of work, awareness, education, and commitment to alternatives. This lifestyle shift takes time to cultivate and also requires privilege to think about it in the first place and the right environment.
related: America’s New Year’s Resolution: Stop Being StupidFiled in culture and random linkage | Tagged with affluenza, consumerism | Comment (0)
in my line of work, there are a lot of acronyms. acronyms for projects, for agencies and organizations, for species, for work tools, for groups, for research, everything. in the social world there are also a lot of acronyms, and now with people writing in txt shorthand all over the place sometimes it’s impossible to tell what’s an acronym and what’s just a word without vowels.
there are a lot of words in general use out there that most people don’t even realize are acronyms, like “SCUBA”. and YUPPIE. oh, the yuppie. how much i try to avoid fitting into that acronym. here in SF we also have “yippies” = yuppie hippies, or white collar hippies (they’re richer and smell better. they own hybrids and spend thousands on solar electricity for their houses and yoga retreats and eco-vacations, etc.) i think most of my friends (and many of my coworkers) almost qualify as yippies. afterall, we’re young, urban, often-professional with disposable incomes, and semi-hippie in that most of us have a sustainability bent. but for some people, the connotation/connection to the word yuppie is too strong, and many of us are artists, not “professionals”.
so, avoiding the “yuppie” link and focusing explicitly on Gens X and Y and dot-com era 30somethings, a new acronym has been created for this group of young wealthy people who care about the environment: YAWNs – Young and Wealthy but Normal:
They drive hybrid cars, if they drive at all, shop at local stores, if they shop at all, and pay off their credit cards every month, if they use them at all.
They may have disposable income, but whatever they make, they live below their means in a conscious effort to tread lightly on the earth.
They are a new breed of Gen Xers and Y’s, Young and Wealthy but Normal, or Yawns.
this acronym has a lot of issues. first, obvi, is the phonetic. YAWN!? secondly, what does “normal’ mean here? not paris hilton? because “normal” in most parts of the country does not = eco-conscious and living below your means. even in SF, where many of these YAWN types live, the young and wealthy are often concentrated in the Marina district, which although it does have a lot of yoga studios and organic coffee shops, is not what i would call a hotbed of sustainable living philosophies and is what is normal there is what is normal elsewhere: affluenza. my point is that sustainable living isn’t “normal” almost anywhere – although it’s on the rise among affluent types, yes (and greenwashing has made some people think they’re living sustainably when they’re NOT), it’s not “normal” in a general population context – and i’m finding this “wealthy BUT normal” phrasing really odd.
i love sociology, and i love demographics and statistics (which is why my current internship @ american environics has been very interesting), but i hate that the tendency is to recognize loose patterns as definitive categories instead of as points on a spectrum. the YAWN label is ill-fitted, and i don’t think going to stick.
buzzfeed has more links.Filed in culture and random linkage | Tagged with affluenza, bourgeoisie, greenwashing | Comment (0)