The Rising Costs Of Late Life And The Falling Value Of Wisdom

It’s easy to see the retirement crisis as an economic issue of which money is the measure of well-being.

“So now, at 76, [Roberta] earns $915 a month through Social Security and through Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, a program for low-income seniors. Her rent, which she has had to cover solo since her roommate died in August, is $1,040 a month. She’s been taking on credit-card debt to cover the gap, and to pay for utilities, food, and other essentials. She often goes to a church food bank for supplies.

More and more older people are finding themselves in a similar situation as Baby Boomers reach retirement age without enough savings and as housing costs and medical expenses rise…”

“This Is What Life Without Retirement Savings Looks Like” | The Atlantic | Alana Semuels | 02/22/2018

I read it as a cultural issue about the declining value of knowledge.

Continue reading “The Rising Costs Of Late Life And The Falling Value Of Wisdom”

“Kreuzberg”: Why The Berlin Wall Fell But Never Really Collapsed

Few people know how nostalgic I am for The Cold War. How cold it was, the 70s and 80s. How close and comforting it was. How us vs. them. How history’s most dangerous dance. How many “No Nukes” rallies. How death gray the mushroom clouds. How radiated our dreams. How many times some New Wave band would record a song that taught the same lessons as “99 Luftballoons” or “Cities In Dust.”

Ever wonder how many times the end of the world was averted by just one person who said “No” to the ultimate “Yes?”

At least once …

Continue reading ““Kreuzberg”: Why The Berlin Wall Fell But Never Really Collapsed”

Culture War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning

Culture War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning

In the beginning war looks and feels like love. But unlike love it gives nothing in return but an ever-deepening dependence, like all narcotics, on the road to self-destruction. It does not affirm but places upon us greater and greater demands. It destroys the outside world until it is hard to live outside war’s grip. It takes a higher and higher dose to achieve any thrill. Finally, one ingests war only to remain numb.”

Chris Hedges, War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning

1. Love

Culture war is the crack cocaine of American politics.

Continue reading “Culture War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning”

“Black Privilege” And The Twilight Of The Negro Whisperer

At first I thought “black privilege” was some kind of joke, a Chapelle-esque riff on the absurdities of how we talk about race in America. Indeed, reading about it in articles by people who take the idea seriously is like stepping into a parallel universe where black is literally white and white is black.

But as soon as I dismissed the idea my Google Trends graph for “black privilege” blew up:

Continue reading ““Black Privilege” And The Twilight Of The Negro Whisperer”

The Jester And The Sage (Myths About The Smiths)

There are two types of Smiths fan. One type believes that Morrisey drives the band. The other believes Johnny Marr does. (I will only talk about The Smiths in the present tense. Deal.) Granted, those of us in the the Johnny Marr camp need a few drinks to argue the case successfully. But we eventually win because of the happy haze of a drunken Rickenbacker guitar.

And we have this video as the closer.

In it Morrisey is the jester. Marr is the sage. Quite Jungian. And one of the reasons why they are legends together but average on their own.

These are age old archetypes. But times change, and in our time, science always wins over myth. Magic is for madmen and sissies. And the boy will always have a thorn in his side.

That, ultimately is what The Smiths were about, the last gasp of the industrial age before it went all post-this and meta-that and Reagan fired air traffic controllers and Thatcher fired miners and then told the world that society doesn’t exist.

But that’s OK. My generation trades Mick and Keith for Morrisey and Marr all day and makes a killing. ‘Cause if it’s not love …

@dexterkflowers

Not So Noble And Barely Literary Thoughts On The Nobel Prize For Literature

r-nobel-prize-literature-large570

It’s been dry times for the Nobel Prize for Literature, even though there was actually an era when it was The Oscars for book nerds.

(So yeah, I’m a book nerd. Down for life.)

Ah, the 1990s, that feverish run of Octavio Paz, Nadine Gordimer, Derek Walcott, Toni Morrison, Kenzaburo Oe, and Seamus Heaney. Compared to this, I haven’t really pricked my ears up at Nobel Literature announcements since madman Harold Pinter in 2005.

But as the announcement looms, Murakami is in the air, that great techno-fabulist who augurs as much cool and as much weird as our post-postmodern age thinks it thinks it can stomach. Should he win, it would be fitting. He’s the End-Time Prophet for a “time” that’s ending all the time. And thus, his acceptance speech should be a hologramed continuous loop of him chanting “We will rock you,” with Queen playing in the background.

Continue reading “Not So Noble And Barely Literary Thoughts On The Nobel Prize For Literature”

The Poverty Of How We Talk About Poverty

poverty-1274179_1920-EDIT

Poverty is a non-issue in the 2016 Presidential election because we’ve rendered it a non-issue in American life.

At some point during the Reagan / Thatcher era, we stopped talking about class as an economic category and replaced it with an understanding of class as cultural or ideological. Hence, we now have a much richer vocabulary for talking about middle-class values than we do for talking about the social and material conditions necessary for middle-class life.

However, the shift from material conditions to (non-material) values as the lens through which we understand class has had the effect of making it easier for political strategists to shape class interests by shaping cultural values and beliefs.

The long-term effect of poverty becoming a cultural, then a moral issue is that while many people are just a handful of paychecks away from destitution, “the poor” have essentially disappeared from the American imagination.

Continue reading “The Poverty Of How We Talk About Poverty”

The Day My Favorite Band Got All Shook Down

hqdefault

RE: “Replacements: The Breakup That Shook Grant Park” | Chicago Tribune

4th of July 2016 is special. It’s is the 25th anniversary of the breakup of The Replacements.

These were regular guys who figured out that American punk—which, like America disco, was among the first music of the post-industrial era—could not burn so brightly for very long.

So they focused their otherwise broken lives and prodigious talent on what would come next.

Continue reading “The Day My Favorite Band Got All Shook Down”