Sunday, October 3, 2010
The Age of the Angle
I like people more than I let on, sometimes. But I am petty, and tend to envy the successful, while befriending the plain. The plain are no threat to me, you know. But from whence the envy?
I am not a particularly hard working guy. I get by, but there is perhaps a bit more leisure in my life than my father would appreciate. Sign of the times. He worked more, I work less. It'll keep going this way until my great great grandchildren will be hobbled if they are caught with a shovel or a manual transmission or a lever. No more worky-worky for you. Because it is increasingly the Age of the Angle, and the Angle is all about the simplest, most effortless way to accomplish something. Or to exempt yourself from the same. And I envy, or am angered by, the successful, because most of them got there by way of the Angle.
In the military, "orders" stopped being good enough. They had to become "lawful" orders, because someone found the Angle, and used it to get off the hook for being a crook. Easy out.
You can't buy a sponge without three paragraphs of disclaimers, because someone found the Angle, and used it to sue the pants off of whoever makes sponges. Easy money.
And in the media, from books to blogs to blockbuster movies, you can't enjoy yourself because everyone has found the Angle, and have been using it to harvest dollars and droning audiences by the millions. Easy audience.
What's today's angle? Hate. Spite. Vitriol. Effortless and reflexive, and as disinterested in talent as rap music. Couched in silly little phrases like "fiscal responsibility." "Sustainability." "Economic stewardship." Just a bunch of garbage terms invented as a platform to tell people why someone else should be tirelessly derided, and your money should go elsewhere. Pundits, movie producers, politicians, authors. The most successful ones are just sitting there hating the other guy all day long. It is the definition of politics - "the other guy is a jerk" - and politics is only made up of the ones who are good at it. Good at spending their days demonstrating that somebody you know needs to find his way to the bottom of the sea. Morning noon and night, three squares a day of "I hate that guy, and you should, too." We aren't being brought down as a society by a lack of education, poor architecture, irresponsible lending, or greed for oil. We're being brought down by our dogged and constantly accelerating pursuit of demonstrating, announcing, and assembling our hatred for the people around us. Let's gather the top 10 political or "issues based (whatever)" news people of the left and right, put them in my honesty machine, and ask them if they really think they are doing something good for the country and the world. Guaranteed answer is 'No." And they will probably add: "But we're banking on the fact that we can convince you we are, because this stuff is easy, and it is making us rich."
The only thing easier than doing it, is bemoaning that it is being done. And here I sit. Yes, I suppose there is some hypocrisy, or irony, or self-fulfilling/self-destructing absurdity to coming on here and complaining about it, but what's a fella to do? Watch old movies? Dig a hole? Go for a drive? Seminary? I know, I know, you want me to be ashamed of buying a lamp from Pottery Barn, and you want me to grow my own food, and you want me to profess a love for guns, and you want me to say that cops are evil, and you want me to say that Police Officers are heroes, and you want me to admit that I am a racist, and you want me to be heartened by the poll results - but not that poll over there, and you want me to build my own house, and you want me to think Ayn Rand is more important than my parents, and you want me to put a Che Guevara onesie on my baby, and you want me to give cyclists three feet, and you want me to compost, and you want me to drive an electric car, and you want me to drive a V-12, and you want me to attend "non-political" rallies held by a partisan lightning rod on the steps of memorials to our founding politicians in our nation's political capital.
That's a lot to get right.
And what's my angle? Mine all seem to have been drawn up and delivered by MC Escher - a little on the uncertain side. Sitting here wailing against my ineptitude as an honest man in a dishonest world? Presupposing failure and excusing it, all in one swing. That's economy of motion for you, kids.