Sunday June 29, 2003

"Fuck softer toilet paper, where’s the Darwin dividend? We eat food pellets and wear water bottles like better rats, what happened to our early promise? When we were ugly and died all the time, all anyone talked about was salvation, family, overcoming desire, throwing off these chains and more dessert for the guests. Now that everyone’s a king—aren’t we even interested? "
-- a quote from The T hree Manifesto.

My favorite song of late has been "Fool" by Cat Power. Number six on the new album. In a lilting, sarcastic and sad way she sings about an "Apartment in New York, London and Paris" and then later says, "Why can’t we see as fortunates see? Living as legends have lived." And that last line explodes into so much for me. It's beautiful and comforting to know that I have been living as legends have lived. That my life is legendary when I take just a tiny little step outside my solipsism. And this is no stupid exaggeration. I'm talking about a historical context (pluck a random person from the first half of the 20th century to observe our lives and watch their jaw hit the floor) but also a geo-social one.

I don't need an apartment in New York, London and Paris to be a legend. And I don't want to see myself as an ordinary. I am humane but not ordinary. (Oh, get a hold on your democratic disgust. This is hubris for the sake of making a point.) I was talking with some friends the other day who had traveled to the 3rd world and some who hadn't, and they both said that they must have it exactly the way they have it now. Meaning that even though they know how superior their current lifestyle is to those poor fuckers, they would not tolerate being treated in a superior way. That they are more or less equal to the persons they deal with on a daily basis (as one would want it to be, I agree) and that they would not play a part to any unequalizing forces if they were to travel in, say, oh I don't know, in India.

They would not feel comfortable with maids, cooks, porters, drivers or any of the other symbols of a ruling class. How about a guy to shave you every day? The idea of someone taking care of them is also offensive to their sense of independence. What struck me is that this is selective anti-colonialism when it really doesn't matter. If you go to the trouble of spending more money than a person makes in 10 years to fly all the way around world, leaving your life of leisure to visit them, don't you think they'd be amazed and puzzled? Why try to act like you're equal? You might even see how it would be offensive to someone; even appear to be condescending to that poor fucker, when that person who is fabulously wealthy and exotic tries to play out some fantasy of equality.

And it's parochialism clothed in good old fashioned decency. And it's white guilt. Is it so hard to remember that every day of our life is a wondrous fairy tale to 90 percent of the other people on the planet? If someone puts you on a pedestal, you can try to climb down, but then they'll wonder why their statue would be so unmagnanimous as to self-destruct. Why don't they throw down their Chinese takeout right into that designer wastebasket and toss those American Spirits off their weather-treated wood deck? How can they put up with subjugating the entire earth for all that shit? Because the plain fact is that nobody is going to give up what they got without a fight. No matter how much they got.

"We’ve become gods, so now we must create or we will destroy." - 3

Nobody I know is more hedonistic than me (except for my friend Miguel I guess) so I don't want to put on that I'm some "sustainable living" nut. I'm kinda saying the opposite: That you need awareness first of your wealth and position and privilege. (By the way, I recommend getting it first hand, not reading about it on some website.) You need to give thanks for it, not in the weak-ass protestant way of "Yes Holy Father, I'm a sinner and I don't deserve it", but in the "bless these genes" absurdly lucky way that it is, and get on with taking advantage of your advantage. I brought those poor fuckers back with me and they ride around in the hip pocket of my $140 jeans.

The obvious response to this is that I am rationalizing plain, old, boring, over consumption. That I'm on Oprah explaining why I have to drive my Escalade down the freeway to Target and no one is listening. That even the awareness and thanks that I spoke of makes no difference. I say awareness and thankfulness is the only difference.

Read The T hree Manifesto again, even if you read it 5 years ago when I posted it first on It's mostly for college-age kids but older people enjoy it as well.

"Cool people advertise a playground to sell their ghetto." -- 3