Friday, May 6, 2016

Only the Good Die Young

I was once told that middle age wasn't for the faint of heart. That once your youth had been stripped away, then you were left, much like that apocryphal emperor, naked, with only a handful of wrinkles, creaking joints and the power of your accumulations. [1]

Hard words to swallow, these, and I'm still not sure where I am on this scale: my clothes long gone and, it would seem, minimal capital (or power) to my name. And if another, similar, saying is to be believed—that only the good die young—I have at least escaped that fate.  

But I'm not trying to drown you in half-witted analyses of great sayings (perhaps another time), or even talk about myself. You see, this is all an act of placing experience unto paper and it was a friend who recently was guilty of launching just such a tirade against me. I was more than annoyed, though also sympathetic because I cared for him and could sense something like a breaking point approaching. And yet I could not stop it. 

I agree with him, now; but back then there was the necessity of making sure he didn't act rashly. He had come to the conclusion that he needed to go out with a bang if he was to survive the gaze of posterity—or whatever gaze or rubric he felt he was measuring himself for or against. 

He was a fellow artist, so he wasn't going to wear a bomb, or what have you, and end himself [2], but he had that look and I needed to stop him from railing against any current infrastructure, I'm speaking of the arts now, and completely destroying his hopes and dreams.

But my arguments were full of the affectations of my class, worrisome instead of incisive and thus much too weak for the task at hand. In other words, none of my words really spoke to his underlying concern that with the approaching bankruptcy and inherent lack of social capital (aka the unknown artist), what exactly was there to do? And I think I missed the fact that the injustice he felt about these two facts were being channeled to the world—and thus me as well. 

Anyhow, I missed my chance to make an impact as a friend and we were soon chatting about the audiences we were trying to reach with our radical messages and how Google and Facebook weren't quite cutting it as they were flooded with richer people who wanted to reach the same demographics. That meant keeping it local. There the conversation moved to a local graffiti artist just making it big with his/her Facebook like symbols plastered everywhere as single statements or part of collages [3].

I won't bore you with the details, or how, once we came to an alcohol induced haze and its accompanying solutions—never long-lasting—I was forced to leave.

Five days later, the friend disappeared. A text was all he left. He had never expected to survive his youth, he said, and that was all. No one around me knew how to contact him. I've mentioned another friend who wanted to run out his funds in Barcelona. It was him whom I blamed, sensing that the idea had spread like an infection. 

And if I can be a little long winded here, let me say that as one gets older, the power of ideas, especially dumb ones, become more apparent. I am, of course, worried that this specific idea might be working its way into my mind, that somehow it passed my initial rational line of defenses and like a prion will fold over and over until it takes over my mind. [4]

I hope not, because my antidote is that there is value in even this Sisyphean task. By task I merely mean to point out the need to keep creating for good. So here I go, surviving middle age, though just barely. And meanwhile all the good ones seem to pass on by. 

[1] I won't even speak of the potential aggressively multiplying cells inside or invaders from outside can start to do at this age. 

[2] I mean to add that artistic qualifier because I am of the mind that the world is full of suicide bomber mindsets and only a few of them get to have so focused or stated a reason to label it with.

[3] either the whole made to look like people or places, or there wold be a person drowning in a sea of likes (you know, that ubiquitous thumbs up). 

[4] and you may have now realized that age is no guarantee of wisdom, but bear with me for a little longer, please.
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