Thursday, November 03, 2005

Hip to be Square

Vin has made the observation that popular music from the year 2000 and on has nothing to offer history. It will not matter in 20 years (the way we now revere our beloved 80s tunes). Maybe this is a complaint against 4/4 time. It could be that the stranglehold that big media has on the production of pop culture has caused it to be sterile. Or, maybe it is a statement that the metaphor is dead. I don't know. And, quite possibly he is right. I don't have a strong interest in pop culture and I can't claim to be an expert in any of its various venues. But I have heard this argument applied in many areas before and I find I inherently rebel against it.

I spent my teens and twenties in a state of rebellion. I think it is fair to say that this is common and part of growing up. Not everyone rebels, but most need to find some way to differentiate themselves from their families and friends from youth. You may wind up being able to reconcile a relationship with these people in the end, but you have to come to find your own identity and have some confidence in its unique status. I think, at least in part, this is the essence of being an adult. And before you start, yes, this means that according to my definition some people will not reach adulthood until their 30s, 40s. Some will reach adulthood by 15 or perhaps they never will. I speak to a particular intellectual state rather than physical.

What do you remember about the adults of your childhood and teen years? They were out of touch. They didn't get IT. Every cliché in the book. Watch The Breakfast Club again to see how alone we all felt as kids. I promised myself, as I suspect did a great many of you, that I would not allow myself to fall into the same trap as the generations before. I wouldn't lose touch. I could stay cool and 'with it'.

Surprise! I never was 'with it'. Coolness was just an illusion to try and help me feel some sense of control and individuality. Hamlet said, “There is nothing either hip or square, but thinking makes it so.” My thinking. That is what has changed. Not so much what I think, but how. The music cannot move me anymore, except by recollection of what used to be. Don't get me wrong. There are still challenges to overcome—painful moments, awkwardness, lonliness. But, I now know that I am not alone in the struggle. I know that I am a good person. I know that my way of being and doing has merit. You couldn't get that into a teenage brain with a sledgehammer.

I cannot judge art that is made for pre-adolecents. O.K. I can, but only on adult terms. And there will always be something missing in my brain that means that I just can't quite get it. I can intellectuallize it, but not really feel it. I like to think of it not as having too little understanding, but of having too much.