Saturday, March 21, 2009
2010: Timeline for a Psychotic Nation
Like most of us, I assume, sometimes I wonder what it's really all about, and what our place is meant to be in this world. You could easily make the case that I have been religiously obsessed with the issue for most of my life. Although I feel as if I am genuinely in touch with my contemporary environment at all times, my compulsion has always been to try to extrapolate the future from the past. My hobbies, my career choices, and all my writings, which began in the mid-Sixties, have led up to this point. Once you have peered into the depth of humanity, you become Mr. Hyde and you become unable to return to the quiet naivete of Dr. J. The never-ending quest for knowledge becomes both the journey and the destination.
The title of this piece originates from a short list of the elements of modern American madness that I made up back in 2005. At least I think that was the year. It may have been '04. I had intended it to become the title of my next book, the sequel to Timeline of America. This sequel would have represented the Mr. Hyde of The Consumer Culture, the result of decades of pointless, relentless, wretched excess to the detriment of the sanity of all of us as a nation. Timeline of America slings the reader through the arrows of timeless bliss as we have consumed ourselves into oblivion. Timeline is a celebration of what American life used to be. 2010 is almost here and the journey is almost complete.
Allow me the indulgence for a moment to explain how my first three books are relevant as prequels to 2010. Wallowing in the heady subterfuge of classic Corvette mania, Plastic Ozone Daydream is a storyline full of Republicans as told by a Democrat. Once Corvette mania has crossed the line into a Wall Street influenced world in which the cost of the car has become more powerful than its engine, then what we have is a fantasy. Ker-Splash! took the fantasy to the water at a time when the same madness was rapidly overtaking the family boating market. The Last Horizon flashed back to the topics of my earliest writing, although the text was composed completely in this century. The Last Horizon is a detailed study of herd behavior, a unique, entertaining treatise on the way this behavior transcends psychology and sociology to become a monster much larger, and more insidious, than you might have imagined, although you have probably been living with this Darwinian beast all your life. The first two books are entertaining lessons describing exactly how money rules our culture through the development of our adult toys. Horizon explains our obsessions with the intricacies of social power based on sexual attractiveness.
Any expert who has proclaimed that Depression 2.0 was invisible up until the fog miraculously lifted late in 2008 is either lying or a madman. I have been watching its approach since 1970. Few crises of the past decades have surprised me as they leaped upon the national stage, and this one is no different. Anyone with half a brain who has simply been paying attention could have seen any of it coming at us like a runaway train. I have been referring to it as the bear in the closet for years. The bear simply refers to the way the American citizenry so belligerently insist on imitating sheep and lemmings. If a Martian examined our culture from deep space, he might conclude that our religion is that mob rule is never wrong.
2010 is going to be a state of mind that we have never experienced before. The most important detail of which I am most unsure at this moment is whether or not the USA will continue bashing into hard objects as we continue falling through all of 2010, or will we crash land by the end of 2009, leaving us all to wander our splattered universe in a state of shock through next year. As I stated earlier, my hobby has always been the extrapolation of the future through an examination of the past. I selected 2010 as the big year of reckoning based generally on how long it takes for a catastrophic psychosocial event to soak into and alter a cultural entity. The relentless sellout to Wall Street for short-term profits with excessively low interest rates was obviously the leading driver of the housing bubble. There is no doubt in my mind that Alan Greenspan is the most guilty person on earth as the causation of the bubble, although I am sure he will have a lot of company in hell when he arrives.
I don't have a strong opinion about the controversial government bailout plan, as I don't think we shall ever know exactly what would have been the right choice until it has become far too late to do anything about it. I have no patience with the madness of all the Republicans, media, and some Democrats, who are relentlessly bashing Obama, though. As I have so often said, America cannot win The Civil War. By that I mean that as long as we are squabbling among ourselves like two children over a favorite toy, we are unquestionably going down with the ship. Yes, I do strongly feel that Republicans, conservatives, right-wingers, and evangelicals are 98% of the problem in this regard. They are the ones who started the first civil war and their descendants are the ones fanning the flames now. A wise person once said that race would be the downfall of America. I want to amend that concept just a bit to say that although it was once most certainly true, I think the balance of the madness has ever so slowly shifted to money over the long continuum of our history as a nation. Two intelligent people could get into a slap-fight over whether or not this sea change has actually occurred, but a debate over the issue might never end. I think the issue lies mostly in exactly how you choose to look at it, but I want to ask you this question. Is Obama being attacked from all sides right now because he is the country's first black President, or because he wants to take the country back from Wall Street and give it to the citizens?
There's nothing else out there. This is another one of my sayings I have worn out since the late Nineties. America desperately needs to face the simple fact that all products and markets have a distinct lifespan, and so do most ideas and cultural concepts. All the fruits of our vaunted consumer culture are reaching ripe old age. This was the single negative concept I espoused in Timeline of America: Sound Bytes from the Consumer Culture. The reader can see the same pattern repeated over and over again in the timelines. We made all the big advances years ago. We changed the way we live with everything from cars to television sets, from computers to cell phones, from washing machines to microwave ovens. We have reached the point at which all we have left to say is "These go to eleven". Wile E. Coyote is just frantically spinning his legs before he realizes there is no cliff below his feet, only air. We can never buy our way back to reality through the consumer culture. Our past imperialisms must die a slow death and contractions must become our faces of the future. Home Depot will never again open a new superstore every forty-eight hours. We must relearn how to live like compassionate human beings again.
Population and demographics have held the top step of my soapbox since The Sixties. There is absolutely nothing on the horizon that is going to diminish the power of this cultural, economic, and environmental issue. The evangelicals may as well begin getting over their hemorrhoids concerning our culture's treatment of sex and procreation. No amount of Preparation H is going to cure what ails them if they don't. The seismic shift has already rattled our cultural foundation. Most of us believe in both God and science, and there isn't much ammunition left in the bandoliers of the crazier members of our society. I think the re-election of George Bush in 2004 was the turning point. Many of us looked back on that most unfortunate event and saw that America had, indeed, stepped off the sanity train without a helmet. Now that 2010 is almost upon us, we can reflect back on the good old days of our consumer culture. We can also look to the future and bring the Brave New World to our lost souls before Mother Nature does it for us. I hope we all know that we should never try to fool Mother Nature.
See Also: Timeline for a Psychotic Nation
DNA: Unscrambling the Message
America Cannot Win The Civil War
Go Back to Sleep America, Your Government is in Control
The New Americanism and the Return to Quality