Monday, February 16, 2009

Thoughts on a Rainy Afternoon

Actually, it's now a sunny afternoon , but that probably won't last. I'll have some notes on the second disc from Will in a couple of days. I'll say this, though. I listened to it today, and it's good. Very good. Will wants to wait a bit before uploading new songs to, and that's actually good for me too. Because I'm totally like, you know, faking it trying to write a music review when I don't know what I'm talking about about music.

So I'm taking a step back, and letting the exchange from over at One Cosmos sink in a little. I already made the faux pax of posting the same thing at Walt's site that I did on Bob's, and ending up with parallel conversations going on the same topic. No point opening a third front in the battle over here. Instead I'll share some observations on the 'coonosphere' in general, and hope that a topic for this ramble emerges in the process.

What struck me today reading Walt's post, and Bob's post, and then listening to Will's CD is that the focus of spirituality, faith, and the culture at large is very much a post middle age focus. I know that not everyone in the crowd is at, near, or past the half century point, but most of us are. And as I move through the business of my day I begin to notice the signs that my own perspective is one of the generation that is holding the reins of established power and influence, but it is also the generation that is being inexorably moved off to the sideline as younger people begin to steer the leading edge of who we are and where we are going as a nation, and a culture. Not surprisingly, I am not altogether happy with what I see.

I go through the supermarket check stand line, and of course notice the women's magazines on the racks. Whether it's celebrity gossip, fashion, or miscellaneous junk directed at the magazine buying demographic, the focus, and tone are just plain low bred, and crass. Every few years the line drawn for 'what they can get away with' gets pushed lower. If there was ever a fine art of female grooming and dress. It seems to have been reduced to showing a lot of skin, and letting 'him' know that you're just as ready to get it on as he is. Television seems to be in a freefall of "pushing the envelope" of crude. I noticed an ad for some product or other wherein some woman's meddlesome mother was encouraging her youngish middle aged daughter to find a man- or another woman, and settle down. Sure. It's all the same. All equally groovy.
Somewhere along the line someone got the misbegotten notion that tattooing is somehow sexy, and cool. It isn't. It looks like shit on guys, and it's an abomination on women.

I see otherwise good looking young people utterly vandalize their bodies in pursuit of- what? Edginess? Cool? It is beyond me, and I find it disgusting beyond words.

And keep in mind here- I watched the whole hippy thing from the sixties and seventies get overthrown by punk in the eighties. And while I was too old to jump on the punk bandwagon, I actually thought it was pretty cool in its deliberate ugliness. I saw the mohawks, purple hair, and spikes, and leather, and I thought- well, this is one fad that won't get co opted into mainstream pop the way the flowers and beads shtick did. The heavy metal thrash isn't going to make it into supermarket muzak. Go for it! Good on ya! Kids need to get a little crazy. Every generation needs to shock the old farts a little, and the punks did a great job of it.

But the purple hair could be cut off. The ugly ass clothes came off. The mosh pit bruises healed up, and even the safety pin through the cheek didn't leave a noticeable scar.

Not so with earlobes stretched out for a 2" diameter plug. Not so for a full sleeve tattoo. And even less so for the moron with "FUCK" emblazoned across his forehead, or on his neck. (I'm not makin' those up).

You see, this stuff goes beyond wanting to make an old fart like me shake his head. It bespeaks a shortsightedness that is more than a little carpe diem on weed. This shit is permanent. Someday grandchildren or nurses will be changing the diapers on those eighty something year old women, and having to look at those sagging roses and skulls on their withered old breasts and backsides. Those hideously distended earlobes, nostrils, and lips will be lost to circulatory disorders, and convalescent hospitals are going to become some serious chambers of horror. Glad I won't be around to see it.



walt said...

Ha-ha, your bi-local commenting style plus follow-ups and some research I did re the subject matter kept me busy most of the day. A useful little exercise.

I even deigned to write original words about it, I was so enthralled. Your initials are included somewhere.

Best advice for grocery lines: don't look! It never changes, except for the worse.

will said...

Great post, John. The tattoo thing has had me intrigued as well. Back when I was a kid during the hippie era, tats - or at least more than one tat on a body - was officially considered a signifier of the "anti-social", ie., the criminally-minded. Then it really was considered, as you said, a vandalizing of the body.
So why the change?

Well, I think for one thing it's a way of being a gang-banger without actually being a gang-banger - you know, how people like romance the dangerous avenues of life while remaining safe. Sort of like white suburban kids pretending to be hard-core blues musicians.

At the same time, getting a tat is, I think, a ritual of pain, an initiation of sorts, a rite of passage. Why would pain rituals have become popular? I dunno, but I once researched the esoteric origins of pain rituals, the kind that still exist today in certain parts of the world. According to some, pain rituals came into existence for the purpose of actually anchoring souls to the earth - this was back in the misty, unrecorded recesses of history, a time when humans were more spirit and not entirely physical, yet they had to become physical/material so that they could begin the necessary evolutionary journey in the material plane.

Now if this is true or not, I can't say, but it does make an intuitional sense to me. And if it is true, then the tattoo pain ritual is literally a de-evolutionary impulse, a desire to return to the same kind of unconscious herd behavior that marked the mentality of the very first humans. Well, I do believe that we live in a time in which final decisions are being made, a time in which we decide, once and for all, to either move forward or backward. It's a time of extremes, in other words, a time of division. Sheep and goats, you know.

jwm said...

And if it is true, then the tattoo pain ritual is literally a de-evolutionary impulse, a desire to return to the same kind of unconscious herd behavior that marked the mentality of the very first humans.

That has been my take on it, although I hadn't made the connection with pain rituals. It signifies to me, a worship of the primitive. Tattooing, piercing, scarrification: these are the behaviors of people who, in the age of the internet, and routine space travel, are literally still eating bugs in the jungle. Call me a chauvanist, or whatever, but I see absolutely nothing in tribal, neolithic culture worthy of emulation. Nor do I romance the notion that the "ancients" posessed some glorious wisdom that has been lost, and we that would do well to recover.
I look now to the disturbing socio-political lunge to the multi-culti left, the cult like adulation of the current president, the militant enviro whackos and the global warming hysteria. It all bespeaks that same yearning toward tribalism, and Earth worship.
Over at Van's site I made mention of how so much of affluent suburban youth culture looks not upward, but takes its cue from the lowlife, criminal mindset of the gang-banging scum of the inner city. Even in the music. No longer do they idolize the virtuosity of a Clapton, or Beck. They imitate the foul mouthed screeds of criminal losers set to the tribal drumbeat of rap. It is a de-evolutionary trend. I hate to be pessimistic, but I see no good coming from it.


Ricky Raccoon said...

It was too long for a comment here, I thought, so I just made a short post instead, back at the ranch.

subvoice said...

it's always a pleasure reading your posts JWM! know you from the robot japan forum and followed the link here. now I am a semi regular reader of your blog.

don't know exactly why I answer to this blog entry ... oh well, I do. it's because I have a tat that covers the whole of my backside. now, I could get into a very long rant why I have this tat and what the meaning it has for me but to make a long story very short: it comes down to that when I got it, it was at a moment in my life when suddenly everything changed and my whole value system was thrown over board. I actually wanted to shed my skin and be new but that would have called for a skin transplant and I figured this would be even more painful than getting a tat. I certainly did not do it because it was hip to do it or because everyone else had one, or because... I only had my personal reasons and I still stand up to them. actually it did have something to do as a pain ritual. the pain helped me a lot to ground myself again in life. and I would do it again in the same situation.

just my unworthy 2 cents. I go now back to reading. thanks for your insights JWM!