Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Generational Purposes

Excerpt from "A review of Michael Winterbottom's Tristram Shandy"

I know what some of the members of my generation are doing, and I know a little something about who they are: Paul Begala, Ralph Carter, Joan Chen, Thomas Haden Church, George Clooney, Nadia Comaneci, Douglas Coupland, Dinesh D’Souza, Kim Deal, El DeBarge, Melissa Etheridge, Laurence Fishburne, Wayne Gretzky, Woody Harrelson, Bonnie Hunt, Peter Jackson, K.D. Lang, David Leavitt, Carl Lewis, Wynton Marsalis, Chi McBride, Dylan McDermott, Christopher Meloni, Isaac Mizrahi, Rick Moody, Jeremy Northam, Barack Obama, Alexander Payne, Scott Ritter, Dennis Rodman, Henry Rollins, Tim Roth, Arundhati Roy, Douglas Rushkoff, Campbell Scott, George Stephanopoulos, Isiah Thomas, Steven Weber, Irvine Welsh, Forest Whitaker, and Michael Winterbottom. Many of us do: as people whose work has achieved some renown, they are allowed not only personal fame but individuality, a measure of freedom and fulfillment. Those of us whose efforts have been less well rewarded (thus far) might feel a certain indifference to the world’s glance and judgment—genuine or cultivated indifference. Of course, as with much else, money makes this indifference easier to achieve; without money, the world often still has the power to irritate and to irritate with little relief. What the world offers many, rather than the freedom of individuality, are socially recognized—if not always socially accepted—false selves: selves rooted in simple notions of purpose, place, and personality, with the responses to one’s public situation being all that is understood as one’s personality; selves that have little to do with one’s own perceptions, philosophy, or private personality. In a word, stereotypes. Think of class, skin, gender, religion, or national origin, accept these as existential facts, as elemental aspects of being, and you need not ever have another independent or honest thought again.

(c) DG, 2006