Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Talking 'Bout My Generation

I've got a big blog entry coming (soon... honest (I think)) on the politics of unreason. In the meantime, Elizabeth Bear linked to an essay she wrote back in the days when our generation were all being described as slackers:

We are pedestrians in a world without sidewalks, striding across traffic against the light. We are overqualified, overeducated, overworked, overstimulated, underpaid, underemployed, undervalued and underwhelmed. Our cats have their shots, but we don't have health insurance. We are smart, and we are lost, and we are going to proceed wearily through life with a thick, hopeless, mournful longing and a bleary-eyed fatalistic love that we won't bother to try to explain. We have a martyr complex, yes indeed.

We're not holding out any hope, but we never learned to back down.

Parts of it remind me of a conversation I've had a couple of times with a mate, Jim, who's in his 50s. Jim's the kind of guy who has two freezers always stocked, who goes to Macro and buys multipacks of everything. Me, I have less food reserves than a foraging nomad. Why? Jim grew up fearing that Nuclear War could happen any day. He's of the "duck and cover" generation. He's of the generation that prepared for it. I'm of the generation that grow up knowing Nuclear War would happen any day. I'm of the "fuck, whatever" generation. As Bear puts it:

Nuclear war was too big to worry about, so we accepted it. In the event of a nuclear holocaust, you had bomb shelters and "duck and cover." We had plans to drive to the Pratt & Whitney or Sikorsky plant and sit on the hoods of the cars with the radio turned up, drinking from a bottle of whisky and holding a sun reflector. Nero had a point: when the end is inevitable, do it in style... We had accepted our deaths. Now we are standing in the sunlight blinking, and wondering what to do with our suddenly long and frightening lives. Understand: we never expected to live this long.

Anyhoo... go read the essay. It's fucking great.


Blogger Christopher Barzak said...

Agreed with MJ. I think I'm just barely in the generation below this, as I was with most of it, but there were a few references that made me go "hmm?" and I realized I was probably in with the younger brothers she talked about being protected because I was just graduated high school when she wrote this. But more than anything, the protected younger generation thing...perhaps it looked to be so in 1994, but I don't think any generation after this period has been protected either. It's a small gripe, but so it goes. It was a fun read though, and mostly true in a lot of ways. We really did grow up post-nuclear.

4:03 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

I'm not entirely sure about the "protectedness" of the next generation meself. Maybe, I'd say, in 1994, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War and such, there was a sense that the kids coming after us wouldn't have the same ever-present threat -- and the corresponding laissez-faire nihilism of us "slackers". But I tend to think that "fuck, whatever" mindest of my generation hung on through to the implosion of Yugoslavia, that the world hadn't really changed enough before any sense of a New Era in the end of the Cold War was snuffed out sharpish by genocide. So I don't see a huge difference between my generation and the "protected younger brothers and sisters".

Apart from that teeny-tiny point, I'm totally in tune with what she says.

4:57 pm  
Blogger Jason Erik Lundberg said...

I was one year into college when she wrote that, and I can very much identify with it. Thanks for the link, Hal.

3:24 pm  

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