Nothing big, serious or significant was happening in the US in the 1990s and most of 2000s save for a short-lived, isolated trauma of 9/11. And that’s great. A boring life is a happy life. The popular TV shows of the day, Friends and Seinfeld, reflected that pleasant, tepid, bubblegum nothingness. But everything has a tradeoff. We now have elderly presidents, ancient speakers in the House and Senate, while the generation that grew up in the 1990s or 2000s, either vapidly sits by or throws tantrums over non-issues. In terms of artists or thinkers, there’s precious nothing coming out of today’s 40- and 50-year-olds.
In Ukraine, we had very eventful 1990s. The decade was anything but boring. As a result, we now have a generation of philosophers, writers, thinkers, politicians, statesmen, etc who grew up in that decade and who have ideas, strength, insight, agency.
On the positive side, there’s been some upheaval in the US since 2007. As a result, by the 2040s or a little later we should finally have a bunch of people with fresh ideas instead of moping drama queens or cranky senior citizens.
9 thoughts on “The Price of Living a Seinfeld Life”
It seems that America will experience a bit of inflation, but it’s not like Argentina or anything.
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Welcome to Argentina, a country that loves repeating the exact same mistake over and over and over. If only Argentineans exercised this admirable tenacity in service of something not completely moronic…
I agree that “the end of history” between 1989 and 2016 had disastrous effects on our political leadership, but I also think having a huge demographic wedge of people born between 1940 and 1960 hasn’t helped matters. That wedge has dominated our politics from 1976 onward, and it’s still robotically acting as if we were living in 1963 or maybe 1983. Given how well the U.S. was doing from 1989 to 2000, there was no reason for them to correct their early political and social thinking. And now they are all turning 80, and still sitting on top of the society’s politics and economics, and hitting the wall.
Nor is it the case that those of us younger than 60 are all doing nothing about it. But, as somebody who’s been trying to do something about the Coup of 2020 since it visibly happened — basically, around 4 AM on Wed. Nov. 4, 2020 — I can also tell you that “doing something” is a very uphill battle. Our side was able to save Sen. Ron Johnson’s U.S. Senate seat in Wisconsin; we may have kept the fraud machine from a clean Democratic sweep in both houses of Congress in 2022; and we’ve got two serious lawsuits against the rigged elections slowly working their way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. But that’s about it, and it sure isn’t winning politically yet. Trump himself has clearly thrown in his lot with the regime. The final solution may not be through sane or peaceful means at all.
I’m with you on Trump. He served an important role, he should be recognized for it but for the future he has no uses. I’m disappointed with his lack of action on immigration, his coddling of Fauci, his inaction during the BLM riots, his stance on vaccines, his position on Russia, the list goes on.
We desperately need new ideas and new paths because being purely reactive all the time is a loser position. Why, for example, was nothing done before the 2020 election about the mail-in ballots? To paraphrase Trump himself, “I don’t like people who let elections be stolen from them.” Or get duped into COVIDiocy. Trump could have fired Fauci and hired Meloni or Bhattacharya or whomever who wasn’t a corrupt nasty little troll. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become a leader in the world on COVID and strengthen our economy instead of weakening it was pissed away. I’m angry. During the riots, instead of tweeting “law and order!” he could have done something to bring law and order.
Since the election, also, there’s been no leadership but just endless whining. It’s very disappointing.
“A boring life is a happy life.”
Well, one advantage is that you’d never know the difference.
“The popular TV shows of the day, Friends and Seinfeld, reflected that pleasant, tepid, bubblegum nothingness.”
I hated both and still hate both, which is why I thought ChatGPT making fun of Seinfeld was pretty good, even as the AI knew that some of the jokes would sail right past the human audience.
You clearly watch a lot more television than we do: I’d downsized ours to one that would fit on a boat and can play any region’s DVDs, and the last we had it out, we only used it to play DVDs on something with a slightly larger screen than most desktops have.
The television hasn’t been out of its box in three years.
There’s no point in bringing it out again because the DVDs are now MP4 directories that we can play on anything, including the laptops with external displays.
The essentials could be moved to a small NAS that fits in a suitcase, and so while the move is going on, there’s a Wi-Fi router, a NAS, and a printer clustered together.
But it’s refreshing to know that media is getting so cheap that for under $50, we could bore ourselves out of our minds with the full DVD set of Friends. 🙂
“In terms of artists or thinkers, there’s precious nothing coming out of today’s 40- and 50-year-olds.”
Before you make more trademark sweeping grand pronouncements, have you considered other factors?
The main one that comes to mind is that these are the generations whose activities bootstrapped what we know of as the Internet today, and so a lot of what they’ve produced has become “boring” now that it’s in its late-stage capitalism form.
Also, do you know the history of the Iowa Writers Workshop and its effects in American culture?
There are some very good reasons not to have an American publisher except for reprints.
Why even talk to [insert name of prestigious American university] Architectural Press when you could get something published by a European publisher with potentially greater reach and a willingness to help the project along?
When people make the landscape boring, non-boring people go looking for another landscape.
Do you think the impending chaos and the dysfunctional mess that is American primary education would be the only reasons for having a foot out the door?
Why hope for the new quasi-utopias of New Urbanism when you can move to a place that with its faults gives you a better quality of life? More to the point, do people outside North America and the Anglo World even know what they’re doing?
So this is going to hurt a bit.
“In Ukraine, we had very eventful 1990s. The decade was anything but boring. As a result, we now have a generation of philosophers, writers, thinkers, politicians, statesmen, etc who grew up in that decade and who have ideas, strength, insight, agency.”
And yet … these people’s names for the most part aren’t on anyone’s lips in the US, Canada, the UK … are they?
I love to talk about Paul Ricoeur and his takes on utopia (as you’ve noticed), as I also love to talk about Paul Virilio and the “creation of accidents” that match new things being created.
I especially think of Paul Virilio’s writings on a “landscape of events” back in 2000, from someone who was both an architect and a philosopher, as part of the “acceleration culture” that is only now getting kicked off at significant speed.
Two decades ago, aside from sci-fi writers, Paul Virilio was one of the few who really got it.
In North America and the Anglo World, however, it’s as if these people never existed except as “Dispatches from the Outside”, some philosophical projection onto an American Plato’s cave wall.
The funny thing about bubbles is that most of the time, nobody tells you’re in a bubble.
But it is a very curious thing how the outside sneaks the samizdat through the bubble walls anyway.
For me at least, the problem with American culture is not that it is lacking in numbers of would-be intellectuals, it’s that it’s lacking of sufficient numbers that can pass through the bubbles.
When you see all that was done with the Iowa Writers Workshop, you’ll understand why some of that has happened within American intellectual scenes.
And so what probably hurts the most to realise about Ukraine’s intellectuals is that for most purposes, they were talking among themselves within a bubble of Ukrainian culture which had few ties to anything outside it.
How is this exactly like American intellectual culture then?
You still proceed from the assumption that US, Canada, and UK are the center of the intellectual universe. But I’m saying they have turned themselves into a backwater. So your question is “Why does nobody in this backwater know what’s really happening in the world?” The answer is: because it’s the backwater.
I’m going to Spain on Monday to meet a group of youngish scholars who are – and I’m not saying this to hurt anybody’s feelings – light-years ahead of what exists in the Anglo world. The life of the mind has been murdered in the US, Canada and UK. Oh, and definitely in Germany. At the Anglo version of these discussions I’m anticipating in Spain, people either take turn reciting slogans or narrating their mental troubles.
I love the Anglo world. That’s why I live in it. I’m rooting for the Anglos. But they are trapped in the neurosis of their historical guilt and the mimicry of weakness to apologize for their strength. I want this to change and hopefully soon. That’s why I keep talking about it.
I can’t get rid of the feeling of being in an intellectual backwater when I’m in the Anglo environment.
“You still proceed …”
Why did you choose to make this kind of projection personal when it’s been clear that I don’t?
“I’m rooting for the Anglos … I want this to change and hopefully soon. That’s why I keep talking about it.”
As much as I don’t like it, I have to admit that Vox Day has a point in wishing for a speedy collapse so that Americans may be free of the things that have been dragging them down.
Such as the Iowa Writers Workshop which was developed, promoted, and sponsored by the CIA.
The effects of this one programme have had wide reaching consequences across the American intellectual landscape, even if you’re completely ignorant of them.
I’m also having to admit that Anonymous Conservative has a point: you either talk about this or you don’t, and so I’m talking about it.
“The life of the mind has been murdered in the US …”
… with help from the American taxpayer and the CIA.
But go ahead and find out for yourself.
What’s the difference between a backwater and a bubble?
Nobody cares about what’s going on inside the backwater.
“Why, for example, was nothing done before the 2020 election about the mail-in ballots? To paraphrase Trump himself, ‘I don’t like people who let elections be stolen from them.'”
The one first-hand account of Trump’s 2020 implosion that I’ve read and found plausible is that by Peter Navarro, which he’s given in parts of two books (On Trump Time and Taking Back Trump’s America).
According to Navarro, Trump stupidly trusted Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump to run both his 2020 reelection campaign and all of his 2020 anti-fraud efforts. By summer 2020 it had become clear to Trump’s more adult supporters that Trump was headed for potential electoral disaster because of the languid and insanely wasteful way that Kushner was running the reelection campaign; so they tried to stage an intervention and get Kushner replaced by Steve Bannon (who had saved Trump’s failing campaign at the last possible minute in 2016!), and Trump even agreed, but then weirdly claimed that he couldn’t fire Kushner in person because of “family troubles” that would happen. (My cynical translation: Trump couldn’t bear the thought of quarreling with Ivanka.) So Trump flaccidly asked somebody else to tell Kushner he was fired; the somebody else did try but Kushner wouldn’t take his calls; and eventually the whole thing was silently dropped. So Trump rolled into Nov. 2020 without having had his single best campaign manager from 2016 running the show even for the last five months of the campaign, let alone 2020 as a whole. Disastrous.
Worse was the anti-fraud effort. Navarro got involved in this in mid-November (!) after weeks had passed from the disastrous Nov. 4 and it became clear to Navarro that Kushner wanted Trump to have his election stolen and wanted Trump to concede. Navarro manfully worked with Giuliani to do what they could under extremely unfavorable circumstances to reverse the rout, and actually got close to doing so (there was a serious move in Congress to oppose certification on Jan. 6th, partly because of a huge grass-roots effort by infuriated GOP voters to crash the phone lines of GOP congresscritters, partly because Giuliani’s testimony to state GOP legislators had had some effect) … but then came the FBI’s false-flag Reichstag Fire.
Since then, all effective resistance to allowing the election fraud of 2020 to stand unchallenged has come from very unofficial people that Trump himself has done zero to support. Steve Bannon has led one major faction of resistance and Michael Flynn with Patrick Byrne have led another. Other serious efforts have been made by other people (e.g. 2000 Mules), but it’s hard to have an effect when the fraud machine is clearly favored by the unelected permanent bureaucracy and the establishment incumbents of both political parties. It’s also hard to have an effect when you make the most rational and factually-based arguments that could be made, but people in authority insolently hallucinate reasons not to follow your reasoning, which seems to be what’s repeatedly happening with the Kari Lake lawsuit. Arizona in Nov. 2022 was an election that would disgust the so-called ‘Third World’ and make Venezuela’s dictators go ‘whoa, dude’. It also left our southern border completely wide open and obedient for Mexican cartels selling lethal drugs and sex-abused children. But it’s likely to be allowed to stand.
All of this because Trump stupidly preferred his greasy son-in-law to the brilliant though threatening Steve Bannon. And because he couldn’t bear to say ‘no’ to his daughter Ivanka. America and the human race is paying an awfully high price because Trump hadn’t managed to become a grown man by 2020.
Aaaaand, I have filled your comment page with a long lecture. I apologize. But as you can see, I am fantastically bitter. It is difficult for me as an American to see my country betrayed by its so-called elites, betrayed by a so-called populist leader, and led into a downward spiral of degradation and shame. I don’t know how this will end. My pessimistic belief is that it will end, but only when the elites are subjected to unbearable agony. That’s not likely to be a good process for anybody.
No, please don’t worry. I want to talk about this, too, but there’s nobody to talk to. The people I know are still completely in the “Trump is a genius, he’s the actual president, devolution something something.”
The pernicious impact of Jarvanka was not only on the campaign (which absolutely was a joke) but the immigration issue. We got the exact opposite of what we wanted because Jared is pro-open borders. And guess what? There’s absolutely no reason to believe that things would be different on a second go. Trump is in the habit of firing effective, serious people and hiring weak, bumbling sycophants. Or relatives with the agenda that’s the opposite of what his voters want.
The anti-fraud effort was mishandled so grievously I feel deep shame even thinking about it. I’m thinking it was done on purpose to undermine it. But it’s too late. As it’s probably too late to do anything about the border.