Sometimes you do something you just know is gonna turn out wrong, but for some reason you have to confirm that, sometimes even for the fourth or fifth time. I keep trying to grow cabbage, for example, and it never works out, but I keep trying it anyway, without really changing my strategy. What makes it so hard for us to admit our failures, and learn from our mistakes?
Some experiments just don’t work, but we keep plugging away at them anyway– monoculture, monogamy, monopoly, Wall Street, censorship, prohibition–we keep having faith these experiments will eventually have a better outcome, even as returns are continually diminishing in a multitude of ways. We have manufactured a world and we are still insisting everyone fit neatly inside it. Maybe only the Scandanavians are coming close to making it work for them—you see how low their crime rates are, how kind they are to their neighbors, especially how annoyingly attractive they all are? For them, something seems to be working, not that it would work at all well here. But whatever we’re workin’ over here is clearly not working for us either.
If you can see it no other way, just look at the violence. Of course there are much more violent places to live in the world right now, but they are at war, or impoverished, or living under tyrannical regimes, usually all of the above. This is America. We had higher expectations of ourselves from day one. Sure, some things really are getting better, I said something about that last time, but other things are just obviously worse. Admit it!
I will count urban sprawl as my greatest pet peeve ever. Cities are unique organic inspiring symbols of the greatest gifts of man, not perfect though, and the countryside sings the same of nature’s gifts, also with flaws, but what we have allowed to take over in between is the worst sort of synthesized cookie-cutter ineffective hodgepodge with as far as I am concerned, not but one or maybe two redeeming qualities for a vast wealth of annoyances and overall designer recklessness. And yet, that’s where the majority of us live, so it seems unlikely we’ll ever get unstuck from that enormously screwed-up experiment.
I believe we here in this country were the first or are at least the very best to manufacture that sort of landscape, so I think we should stand on trial in front of the entire globe. I will write a fiery mimicry of Zola’s J’Accuse, and I will fill it full of poignant truths and lofty metaphors, like, The Suburbs Suck, and Hey there all you wankers in DC, get your hands out of my wallet and off my body!
A friend wanted me to hear the lyrics of a rap song he knew I’d like. He said, which of course sounded better in his voice and with a heavy beat in the background, something along the lines of: We used to produce shit in this country, now we just stick our hands in the other guy’s wallet.
So as I mentioned last week, and begged everyone I know as well, to choke me in the shallow water, no one was actually able to accomplish that. It’s like my personal repeatedly failing experiment. So now I’m back to drowning again in the deep waters of my life’s mission.
Damn it’s lonely in here.
Thank heavens for the Web.
Here are a few experiments that keep me inspired: