The Switch

As in “a switch was flipped.”

I’ve always been ambitious. I’ve had a strong sense of what I’m about, and I never felt like I arrived at any of that lightly. I was always fairly thoughtful and sensitive from a young age, and I was traumatized as a young adolescent with the death of my father. I will probably say that like a million times because it’s the reason for so many things. I write this as if I’m writing to nobody, but then I remember that some bot somewhere is scraping this for adwords money. So goes the marketplace of ideas.

In any case, the loss of my father led to greater alienation and probably increased egotism. Given that my dad was killed in a terrible accident which I survived, it was easy to feel like I was part of a survival narrative. From the age of 13 until probably 29, when I first had a panic attack, I feel like I lived as if I were more or less invincible, though acutely aware of how my own survival was based on my position relative to the trauma, not necessarily intrinsic personal indestructibility. This sense of catastrophe survivorness melded with the sort of happy-go-lucky entrepreneurishly optimistic demeanor I had been developing with my father’s assistance, and I felt like a genuinely important person who would obviously be visibly and noteworthily successful for some heretofore unexplained reason. I suppose this is a fairly common trope for young people in the occidental world, but because I had grown up somewhat privileged, I could recognize that the emperor almost never wears any clothes and that the world was my oyster, so long as I could bootstrap myself to relevance in some niche.* (* in retrospect, I would narrow this definition to only include niches that are associated with social or political power)

Uggghhhhh this is going to take like an hour to write, and I just don’t want to mess with it right now. Look, I said that it’s like a switch has been flipped because I just struggle to find the importance of things lately. I have my visceral concerns uber alles, of course, and I have existential worries and cares for the welfare of my family and loved ones tuht tuht tuht tuht tuht tuht. At the same time, whenever I participate in creative endeavors, I find myself feeling more alienated and isolated and less wanting to participate or put forth any visions I may have once had. I went to the Armory Show a few years ago and saw a large painting that featured young women involved in group sex and text along the lines of: “We would rather contribute nothing and waste away.” I scoffed.

But who’s scoffing now? Whoever made that painting is probably having a jolly ol time with the baroness of such-and-such, while I see here, upset like Santa isn’t real or like I’ve lost my dad. Because I can always come back to that and be upset about that. But plenty of people lose loved ones; sure, there are probably other broken people blogging it out right now, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen proof that people can reconcile their loss and persevere and all that jazz. Lately, though, as I am just baffled on a daily basis by the apparent callousness and heinousness and wickedness and apathy and lethargy and corruption that flourish in these times, I feel like the people of this world don’t deserve to appreciate someone like me. Whatever that means; I sound like a bitchy little hater so who cares? And who cares!

Guys, I’m in my 30s; I really shouldn’t be thinking like this. But who cares? I guess I’ll either figure it out or I won’t. Or maybe I’ll figure out that I had it figured out already. Or maybe I’ll figure out that I had it figured out and threw it away. Or maybe I’ll live out some other cultural trope because I’m uncreative. This is why you should have kids in your 20s; this sort of thinking isn’t constructive for the advancement of industry. For one, questioning purpose is highly incompatible with productivity because some tasks require human input and humans are bad at multi-tasking. Sorry, now I’m just being cute because I don’t know how to end this paragraph. Once you get near ideas like “What idiot even wants to be successful in a world of idiots,” it can be hard to get away from them.

This post was actually supposed to be about “Nation as imagination of self” and how basically whenever countries do things and expose internal political and philosophical differences, it seems like –and I’m SURE this is not my idea but I want to talk about it and probably attribute it to someone like Chomsky or Foucault– more often than not people seem to have some general frame for understanding their country: it’s honest, it’s corrupt–whatever. Not necessarily just one but probably at least one and most peoples’ frames probably fit together to form a …delusion. It seems to me that the people who are typically not very well-informed drop into arguments around war time, and they get all personally offended when someone points out their misunderstandings and hypocrisy, etc. My new theory is that the people who do this in earnest (so discounting media, govt, and self-promoters) probably get offended because their feelings about their country are tied to their feelings about themselves and so they feel sullied when they hear about Abu Ghraib, etc. I bet this predates Chomsky and Foucault; I bet this is like Voltaire or Aristotle.

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