There isn’t any easy to put this, so I’m just gonna be blunt: being back stateside suuuuuuucks. From top to bottom, there doesn’t seem to be any light. It is a worse off cultural wasteland than when I left it, and considering I’ve been living amidst Asians for little over a decade, this recognition is felt doubly so. But fair warning, it could be me.
So here are the observations of a healthy male, educated, married to a lovely woman, socialite, with probably an above average proclivity towards bi-polar disorder, whose traveled deeply into, if not lived in around thirty different countries.
Cities have all gentrified, suburbs have all corporatized, people are more atomized, younger generations are more commodified, the ageing have had their brains liquidized, and the country hasn’t been this polarized since Nixon, at least. Culture rot is not confined to anyone culture or socio-economic strata however. Rich and poor alike are populated with more infantile brats than ever, which is perhaps the most obvious trait Americans have in common. The wealthiest counties as well the poorest revealed their shared backwardness in the election of a biblical villain if there ever was one, an alpha-brat, affrming a deeply retarded understanding of nobility. And despite all the mongering of ageing white dudes, the language police have not stymied what I see as newly affirmed freedom to express bigoted comments. I think that much is obvious, no? Instead what this silly ass group has to offer is gender tokenism as a more important expression than economic justice. That’s their “revolution” – policing the use of the right or wrong gender pronoun.
Amidst the wreckage of this experiment its readily apparent to this expat that any sense of community that may have existed in what was already a brittle idea of a common culture has been drowned out by the noise of capitalism’s massive train, that roars on with ever more fervor through the minds and souls of all. The sense of civic duty is almost looked down upon from the seat of the consumerzen: there’s just no reason to respect our elders, no reason to help guide our young, unless we are commercially facilitated to do so. No reason to be welcoming to a stranger, who knows what they want? (or have?). So many schools are completely bonkers. Children have are readily handed addictive technology. These factories that feed on the souls of teachers…who get spit out at the end of their careers so emotionally exhausted that I wonder if they can even feel any joy of retirement.
The virtue of humility has been engineered out of awareness as the population is increasingly segmented and corralled into their custom made social implosions, where outrage is recirculated instead of oxygen. No one is available to the public, much less aware of it, of an “us”, in this gulag of short lived gratifications, and I don’t blame them. Unlike the plazas of Europe, or the open air markets of Asia, or “the streets” of old America where people went out and took solace with just seeing each other, public gathering spaces today have either been bulldozed into oblivion, are designed to keep you shuffling (or the police will), or are inundated by the meth head stank of the nouveau homeless: young white people.
Relatedly, crime is back on the rise, hate crimes, attacks on the elderly, and other nihilistic flourishes. As I became re-sensitized to guns during my time away, you feel just how insane this daily stream of gun murders are, much more the disturbances of mass shootings. Yet Americans are too busy to care as their sprint for salvation across the field of runaway capitalism grows faster. And as they watch their bretheren collapse here and there on the manic field of runaway capitalist history, the pressure to live solely for the betterment of the individual self grows ever stronger. Today, its the strongest I’ve ever seen, a sign of things to come in Korea no doubt.
When not working the levers of this great spectacle, “adults” don’t have the fun they once did. The grind of capitalism has shortened those hours by seemingly half or more. Bars empty out much sooner, parties end much quicker, there is no spirit for social revelry, no spirit for celebration, it is instead wasted away on consuming a wide host of the most inane shit ever facilitated through the halls of Stanford tech, Princeton politicians, and their state educated subordinates. I wonder if Americans know how lame they have it…the joy de vive that permeates the streets of Europe, the Middle East and Asia is lost on this country anymore, and the one age group that is allowed such a freedom perverts it. The art of living IT up has dried UP and instead our blinders have been more tightly bound. We don’t need authoritarian capitalism to keep our mouths on the bit, its been internalized in us beginning with the first wholly corporate manufactured generation: the boomers, and even more so by their successors. Yes Gen Z, you’re actually even more “boomerish”…your generation will never experience ANYTHING like a Woodstock. You will never see “the streets” your grand parents did, where everyone came out, and knew each other. You will never experience the pre-digital unbridled enthusiasms of Gen X, where if you spent too much time on anything remotely like a computer, you were labeled nerd! Now tou’re raised from day one in the digital googleplex, as young professional (YP) therein, speaking the tongue of eugenics.
The famous French dinner nights could never fly here, where friend and family commonly stay up late, in love of life. The gatherings you see among the ageing Koreans, nothing like it here. Every working stiff must hurry home to incubate, for Monday is the start of another week! Ugggh. NYC – the city that never sleeps? Puuuhhhlease…any midsized Asian city has exponentially more action than anything offered in any of our coastal or river cities. I suspect much of this has to do also with a felt sense of crime, whose absence was so refreshing in the East. I didn’t have to walk my girlfriend to the subway or friends to their cars, as I once did here in the states, and will probably have to do again soon for living in a cool part of any town that isn’t riddled with criminals and meth roaches will probably cost you 30-40% your monthly salary. Not that it’s all that fun there, for your living amidst the alienated Americans bores listed above. So we have that to look forward to.
There is no public culture, no gatherings of normal people in public, no old men sitting outside the shop, talking shop, no women gathering in the plaza to share the family’s joys. Shit, its hard to see kids out exploring in the majestic wild of their respective parts of town. It’s a nation that’s estranged from each other, speaks in this Chilis corporate restaurant tone with each other, that’s engineered that way: to suck down Netflix and work unto retirement, where Netflix gets replaced by the 24 hour outrage machine: cable news.
I’m now residing in a city filled with disaffected non-native mid-westerners, and having trouble resigning myself to this reality. And I can’t help but see the current president as most symbolic figurehead of this state of affairs. A systemic change needs to occur and if you think anyone but Bernie can possibly pull that off, you’re more than likely one of these sorry bastards Ive listed above.
Or it could be me. all me.
I think its somewhere in between….you tell me.
Hugs and kisses,