The Existentialist Cowboy rides yet again, a gunslinger you can believe in.
As the economy continues its free-fall to some mode of temporary oblivion, and the US gov’t, under the unsure guidance of once Masters of the Universe, printing money faster than the presses can run – money in the trillions which mystically simply seems to disappear (perhaps we’ll know where when the Cayman Islands sink from the weight of this paper largesse stuffed in the pockets of our least needy who have for decades parked it offshore), slowly the lethargic grand public is showing signs of pissed-offedness. Not yet the crack of 30-aught-30’s hitting the windshields of giant SUVs headed to gated country paradises; not yet clever golf-ball bombs, but perhaps soon. Clearly the once-impregnable cultural shields of wealth and celebrity which surrounded the monied classes is showing cracks, and rather than being beloved, a cloud of hatred is rising up from the landscape. Along with the tent cities, the suicides of desperation, the burgeoning world of homeless shelters, the insipid new con-game ploys littering the spam box of your email. The World Bank today announced a grimmer forecast for the coming year(s) than previously envisioned by governmental tea-leave readers of the moment. A global contraction is well under way. (Here in Korea where I am in the last quarter industrial production for this live-by-exports nation plummeted 26%; my university-teacher friends at the same time note a sudden expansion of class sizes….) You might have noticed it in the yellow slip you got last week, or the stagnant paycheck of the last years, or the tent that popped up down the street among the foreclosure signs.
In myself I note it in the increasing sense of indifference I bring to my computers as I flick them on in the morning, look briefly at the time-lines (Swimming in Nebraska on one, Imagens de uma Cidade Perdida on the other), and fail to find the energy or enthusiasm to address them. They sit the day casually glanced at, little done on them, before I turn them off for the night. To me this comes not from a personal anxiety that I might be out of a job shortly, though that could happen even if for the moment circumstances in that respect seem “safe,” but rather from a more general sense of the futility and irrelevance of these pieces. Something in me stirs to think to either just lay down the tools of my trade and take up something more tangible-seeming, like a garden or something useful like working in a homeless shelter (a friend in Oregon who works at one, actor in OVER HERE, tells me “business” is booming there in McMinville); flip side I think I should set these aside and dig in and make a work that addresses the present situation, though that diminishes when I simultaneously ponder the realities of distribution: yet another work for an audience of (n)one? In the realm of aesthetics that is a livable proposition; in the realm of politics it is simply a sign of insanity or an overbearing ego.
So several filmmaker acquaintances signal that in the face of the black hole of the visible fiscal future, they are looking for jobs teaching. I fear for them that the odds will be lousy, as there is an on-paper unemployed line about a mile long in front of them, of similarly situated would-be media makers, looking for a steady paycheck. Certainly there is likely to be a flush of student enrollments, particularly in state educational systems where the tuition is a lot lower than “name brand” universities, somewhat in proportion to the lack of jobs outside the Ivory Tower world. Trouble is that for many the fall-back of “staying with Mom and Dad” is likely to be nicked as the folks just lost their house. Maybe they can move in with Junior in the dorm???
And the experts in the financial world and the government and Wall Street told you it could never happen again, and that they had all the institutional structures to prevent another Great Depression, and…. And then in the interests of the glories of a free market and globalization and financial innovation and get-rich-quick schemes, they dismantled most of that and here we are!
Thank you, Big Gipper, and the cluster of neo-cons who contributed to this development (and who are already shrieking from their pundit thrones that it is Obama’s recession, and that the correct cure is more tax cuts, less regulation, and Newt Gingrich is hinting a Presidential run, and… and how tone-deaf can you get?) and thank you to the public, which, mal-educated, dreamed of American Idol, of shop-til-you-drop, of hitting it big in Vegas, of getting out of university and going straight to that financial sector $80,000 a year starter job, and otherwise largely bought into the swill served up by our “conservatives,” and now, again, must pay the bills.
Stick ’em up, pardner!
You will note that while he’s sticking a gun in your face he’s wearing the badge of “authority” just like our friends in high places, Mr Geither, Paulson, and the whole phalanx of financial con-men who just ran off with some trillions of your tax-payer bucks, not to mention the bonuses and salaries they stashed away the last decade or so, every dime built on fraud.