Gotta love the times we’re living in. As a child, like most of my generation, violence and terror was my edification. I remember watching the 1972 classic Salo and being impressed with it if only for the fact that it was the first depiction of testicular torture I’d ever seen on film. It was also the first occasion for me to take a good introspective glance at my own lack of emotion. I’d like to extrapolate the problem to the rest of my generation, but that’s not an argument for here or now.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 450 points today, after losing 500 points yesterday. It’s a curious phenomenon of my life that this was the first truly unsettling event that I can remember. Moreso than 9/11, I was watching torture, and on a global scale. When you see a market lose about 10% of its value over two days, I think it is the very fact that this amount of human misery (at least, so far as ‘misery’ can be used to describe a severe, crippling loss of wealth) can only be expressed in the color red and a downwards arrow is something that found more resonance with me than the images of people jumping to their deaths from the burning World Trade Center towers.
This is the age of de-resonance: we are Eliot’s hollow men, but not anywhere close to how he imagined it. I feel pain but only in the most anti-human sense: I can only hear the howls of millions; When I read that Stalin once said, “One death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic.” My first reaction was to laugh. It’s the first time a man has spoken so correctly and yet so utterly falsely to me in my entire life.
My generation is a generation of dreamers, but we don’t dream in nightmares or in fanciful manners. Freud would be disappointed: we dream of a world where our fates are not determined, of a world where all the glory is yet to be lost. And yet, here we are: embittered at our distant forefathers for our doleful inheretance; embattled by our fathers for our caustic realpolitik, and laid low by our own crushing sense of things. It’s as if we are the helm-bearers of scientism, and we’ve finally glimpsed into the abyss that is the logical conclusion of human knowledge: It didn’t stare back.