Monday, June 07, 2010

Congruence of Incongruities

Of the Yiddishe Kop I am genetically disposed,
Though now we're told it's only an old wives tale,
Which makes it all the more likely I have one.

Saturday evening we rented Crazy Heart on Pay Per View. The younger son bailed on it after only a few minutes. The older one gave up a little while later. My wife fell asleep in the middle though she did wake up to see the end. Naturally, I was drawn in by it. I thought it was a great picture and surely will watch it again later this week. A fading country music star looks to find his own humanity on the way to hitting rock bottom. He is redeemed by his songwriting talent and the realization that his drinking is the root of his own evil, a narcissism that has made him quite sick and disgusted with himself.

Yesterday (Sunday) the New York Times had an odd piece on the homepage. Mickey Kaus, the blogger nee political columnist, is running for Senate in the California Democratic Primary. The seat is currently held by Barbara Boxer. Kaus' chance of winning the primary is little to none. His is a protest candidacy to raise the issues he deems important, which seemingly belong outside the Democratic Party. On immigration and unions he appears to be a Republican and those are his big issues.

Nowadays, we learn about ourselves listening to NPR, this review of Iron Man 2 a revelation. We Baby Boomers are getting older and contemplating our own mortality. The Media has figured this out and has decided there is profit in feeding us pieces that reflect ourselves and where we are in the life cycle. For the most part it is not fear of death that captures the Baby Boomer's attention. We're not yet old enough for that. Rather it is our relevance and whether what we do matters. Apparently, we feel we should matter more than we actually do, our talent and intelligence seemingly an entitlement that our work will be of consequence, yet only to find that mattering is outside our control. All that is within our grasp is our own efforts.

In the opening scene of Crazy Heart our protagonist is seen pouring a jar of liquid that might very well be urine onto the parking lot outside the bowling alley where he is to perform later that evening. The scene happens fairly quickly and might go entirely unnoticed but for a variety of later scenes in the movie where he is at least half lying down on a bed, perhaps with his guitar or a drink on his belly, and his belt is undone. Evidently, he is having bladder problems, an entirely unspoken theme of the film.

Life for the aging Boomer is full of indignities, some of the biological kind. We need to relieve this pain, either provide a distraction or find something that gives pleasure. Drink can do both, in moderation. Yet the decline feels like a full frontal assault. A moderate response is insufficient to counteract it. So we overindulge, creating a negative spiral. Once the fall is in full motion it can't stop till bottom is hit. The fall doesn't damage the talent. But it kills everything else that matters.

We're told that Kaus' blog had 40,000 readers. Apparently that wasn't enough for him. He needed to raise his visibility, in his own eyes. Mattering is a very odd concept. Mattering according to whom? What will happen to Kaus after the primary? Does he go back to being a blogger?

Why is self-expression not enough? Why do we need adoration too? Art can be found in the decline in man, much less so in his salvation.

No comments: