morrigirl: (Ripper)
[personal profile] morrigirl
There was a time when I didn't hesitate to write journal entries about nothing. Check out any random post from 2002 and you'll see what I mean. Of course, back then I was still new to online journaling, still kind of awestruck by all it could do, all it allowed me to do, like be totally candid and anonymous at the same time, (even though I was never really anonymous). I hadn't yet learned about the many benefits of discretion or the limitations of honesty. Back then entries were just whatever brain vomit I could hurl at the screen. And, since I'm running low on contemplative, analytical brain food at the moment, I think I'll just try saying nothing, and maybe someone will say nothing back.

I am loving PaperBack Swap. I've already unloaded thirteen books, many of which had been sitting around on chancexchange for YEARS without a single person ever requesting them. My primary beef with chancexchange is that since it's so small and so few people use it you end up sending all your books to a very small circle of users. Most of the book requests I got were from the same person, Karen from Missouri. And though I'm sure she's a nice lady, I don't want to send all my books to Karen in Missouri. If you're going to end up sending all your swappable books to one person what's the point of even offering them up to begin with? Might as well just cut out the middle man, dump 'em all in a cardboard box and send them straight to their house.

PaperBack Swap has tons of users. All of my books have gone out to different people in different states. They've gone to California, Oregon, Arizona, Ohio, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Georgia, Colorado. And more users means a greater selection of available books. I've already requested four - mainly books I've been wanting to read but not badly enough to actually spend money on them - and I can't wait for them to arrive. Now that my "to read" pile has become a little more manageable I'm allowed to acquire new books once again.

Oh, and speaking of books, this week I finally got around to reading The GenX Reader that [ profile] gender_euphoric sent me last October. Now I understand why so little of it held his interest. All in all it was pretty dull. Most of the essays lacked direction, and by trying to showcase the diversity of Gen X social, political, and philosophical thought the editor came up with a hodge podge of musings with no unifying theme. Pieces were pulled from zines (remember those?), computer forums, and now out-of-print books. Most of the essays and excerpts, taken out of context, didn't really go anywhere. They meander about looking for a central concept to latch on to, and never really find one. If these are the best voices of my generation (and you could make the case that they aren't the voice of my generation depending on how you define the tern generation x) no wonder the boomers thought (think?) we're fucking idiots!

I gotta admit though a lot of it was amusing in a "when I was your age" kind of way. Hugh Gallagher's "Seven Days and Seven Nights Alone With MTV" is delightfully dated. He rambles on about how the crowd on The Grind are the best looking clubbers he's ever seen, and how Yo! MTV Raps "could kick the whole channel's ass if a full-out broken-bottle brawl busted out." (And, sure enough, rap did exactly that when it came to dominate air play in the late 90's.)

There's an interview with Ice Cube from a 1994 issue of The Source in which Ice goes on about how hardcore he is and how he'll never lose his edge. Very funny considering an entire generation has grown up associating him with family friendly comedies rather than gangsta rap.

Generation X's distrust of the media is summed up in "Seize the Media" where Greg Ruggiero and Stuart Sahulka advocate public seizure of the mainstream media by creating "public production libraries where we can each and all produce cultural print, radio, television, and radio broadcast materials in library studios equipped with desktop publishing facilities, graphics technology, multi-track audio recorders, film and video cameras, and editing equipment." It sounds kind of silly until you realize that through the power of the internet and the wonders of social media, the public has seized it. Most of the people I know get their news from individual bloggers rather than the mass media these days. Seeing how media has evolved over the last sixteen years I wonder at Ruggiero's and Sahulka's optimism. They seemed to think a public run media would automatically be fair and unbiased, which we all know is bullshit. Individuals have agendas just like corporations and political parties. And I wonder what they think about the way social media has become a self-marketing tool as oppose to a way to disseminate objective information.

Though the GenX Reader felt very fragmentary it did convey, however inefficiently, a few of the defining characteristics of Generation X: distrust of the media, advertising, and government, disinterest in politics, faith in realism as oppose to idealism, a deep love of pop-culture, and a healthy respect for sarcasm and irony.

Still, much of it sounded like your run of the mill youthful self-absorption: "We don't believe in labels," "Adults don't understand us," "Institutional anything is BAD, "Damn the man! Save the empire!" The authors, most of whom would probably hate me for saying this, sounded like the boomers in their youth, mouthing off against corrupt government, social and economic inequality, and demanding that adults give them the respect they "deserve." In retrospect, gen xers weren't nearly as original or revolutionary as we thought we were.

The same night I finished the book I stumbled across this blog post in which Maddie Grant poses the question "Has Generation X sold out?" The comments are kind of hilarious, full of gen xers trying to prove they haven't "sold out" by taking comfortable jobs and starting families. Though, a point that gets brought up again and again is that "selling out" isn't so much about choosing to live a conventional life but failing to stay true to yourself. Another good point brought up in the comments is that we define each phase of our lives differently, and what was true of us as young adults isn't necessarily going to be true of us during midlife. To evolve from rebellious youths into responsible adults is a natural shift. The boomers did it, gen x is doing it, the millenials will do it. There's no avoiding it. We are all destined to end up in rocking chairs with the television volume cranked to eleven complaining about "these kids today."

Moving on, it's been a while since I last posted poetry by anyone other than myself, so here are two really awesome poems that recently won my heart. A couple weeks ago I finally read "Unmentionables," Beth Ann Fennelly's third full length book of poetry. It was okay; I still think "Open House" is her strongest collection. Even so, "Unmentionables" contains some really great work. My personal favorite is the first poem, "First Warm Day in a College Town." As I read it all I could think was "Oh my God, this is exactly how I feel." Check it out.

And a couple months ago I stumbled onto "The Seven Deadly Sins of Marriage" by Sherman Alexie while reading a back issue of Slow Train. The line "We'd have sex with our books, if only we could" had me in stitches. I think that pretty much sums up the whole writer mentality. You can read it here. It's the second poem down on the page.

*looks up at all she has written*


I guess I had more to say than I thought I did.
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January 2012

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