2.13.2007

"...can't happen here..." / 4am homesickness.

...think again. The 'counter-insurgency' tactics never seem to change much; this reminds me a lot of the paramilitaries in Oaxaca, but it comes from my parents' generation, concealed in an obituary for an actor...
who's afraid of Peter Boyle

On May 4, Ohio National Guardsmen shot four students at Kent State. On May 8, in a spring rain, students from colleges all over New York City gathered at Federal Hall on Wall Street to remember them and protest the Cambodia invasion. Suddenly, from every direction, 200 construction workers bore down on them. In their identical brown overalls, they looked like some sort of Storm Trooper battalion. They carried American flags, of the sort that topped off construction sites. They started berating the police: why weren’t there flags on the flag poles in front of Federal Hall? Had the hippies stolen them? (Actually, per federal regulations, flags were not flying due to inclement weather.) The hard hats then burst through the line of police, who didn’t seem particularly anxious to stop them. The hippies who didn’t manage to melt away were beaten mercilessly, some with building trade implements wrapped in American flags.


This snippet of information came as a surprise to me, obviously. As much as I've liked to berate the hippies as being a revolution of narcissism, well, I guess there's a lot about that time I don't know.

I always hated the opium-white remembrances of the 'sixties' from aging baby-boomers... 'those were magical times...' peace and love..... Oh Wait:
This was a wise observation—wiser than Slater’s, or the makers of Joe, who fantasized the left-wing reaction to bourgeois alienation was purely innocent. It wasn’t. A perverse pleasure can be had in seeing the characters one identifies with depicted as enlightened apostles of peace and love, then watching as they are mowed down as the victims of sadistic know-nothings. Indeed, Pauline Kael came up with a label for this particular neurosis: “liberal masochism.” That explains why legions of countercultural youth flocked to see Joe—and stood up at the end, shrieking almost joyfully: “I’m going to shoot back, Joe!”


Being in Korea has been like an unintended vacation from everything I know, except for food and sleep. I intended it to be a shock to my system, not because I was feeling tired or restless, but because my life was feeling too right, and too comfortable, and I had a horror of humming along content for another five years before realizing I had suddenly become too old to do anything new. I guess that sounds ridiculous from somebody in their twenties.

Congruent to that is the fact that I had become too complacent about political action. As long as the social network of activists, anarchists and fellow-travellers was accessible, I could keep showing up to the parties and putting off any significant investments into projects... I could 'wait for the perfect project', the one that lacked any perceivable flaws whatsoever. In the meantime, I could get drunk with people I liked and respected. Now, sitting in an apartment away from all that, I realize that I don't just miss the people, I miss the struggle. Or rather, I don't just miss the people in the context of getting drunk and playing music, but also from the joys and agonies (and occasional drudgeries) of political activism. Yeah, drudgeries too, because 80% of folk war is peeling potatoes, just like any other kind of war. And we can't all be travelling musicians... no wait, scratch that... we can't all be travelling musicians all the time. Somebody's gotta tend to the gardens, and children, and stills.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not exactly wasting my time here feeling sorry for myself... it's been a blast. Every couple of weeks, even now, I get a shot of utter joyful shock.... waitaminute... I'm-- me-- I'm in Korea right now! Holy shit! Most of the time, the kids wipe me out, and I sleep like a log. Then, homesickness builds up inside me and waits for the right night to keep me awake until 4am.

And the thing that scares me the most is this: I promise myself that I am coming home. But memories of the city and the people I love, and the adrenaline of political action-- they all come out feeling like nostalgia. They feel like my halcyon sixties, and I'm not ready to become that crotchety old rememberer who bores everybody around him with the 'good ol' days o' struggle', as if the youth aren't struggling at this very minute. Fuck nostalgia. I am in horror not of getting older, but of getting old.

...It's a good healthy sensation to be thinking these things, and feeling this way about them. Because none of these things are dead, and absence is making the heart grow fonder. I promise myself a lot of things at 4am on a school night, and those promises turn the nostalgia into things alive, hope and excitement for the future...

...in the meantime, Holy shit, I'm still in Korea!

1 Comments:

At 9:36 AM, Blogger Robert said...

oh hey

your blog is back...it wldnt load for me for the longest time

rest assured, you are missed, too

get back here soon, ok?

 

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