|Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie confer at the start of The Hunger|
The older I get, the less I find to be all "Ooh-Aah" about. I mean, as time goes on, I find fewer and fewer occasions to feel like there are "Cool Kids" I haven't gotten to know, or awesome alternative lifestyles I could have had if only I'd focused on conceptual art/guitar playing/modern dance in my youth, or amazing experiences that are just beyond my reach.
When I was younger it wasn't like this. When I was in high school I got obsessed with the movie The Hunger and I dreamed of being taken home by David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve to some impossibly beautiful and elegant home. And then when I was in college I read a book about Edie Sedgwick and Andy Warhol's studio, "The Factory," where hopelessly, stratospherically cool people gathered to be the it person of the moment and I thought with despair how I would never be interesting in the right sort of way for that sort of thing.
But now? Not so much. I see huge elegant homes and I think about the upkeep and the family infighting that money causes and how it doesn't matter if you're David Bowie -- your day is still basically made up of doing some things and eating and talking to the people you love and that's it.
I think about The Factory and I remember how even if taking a lot of drugs might be fun for a bit after a while it's just boring and you can either stop and feel awful or continue and become completely a mess and -- let's face it, I wouldn't last five minutes involved in a 45 minute movie that's just someone eating (From Wikipedia: "Finally, notice is taken of a brief appearance made by a cat").
On the one hand, Great! Right? No more being a kid with her nose pressed against the glass. It's true: it's awesome, because basically it means the things I really do want are the things I have. Yay!
On the other hand, it makes the world a little disenchanted. There's nothing like seeing things realistically to take a little of the magic out of it all.
I had always thought of this kind of disenchantment was basically about getting older. It's a classic middle aged trope, right?
But then last week I was on the internet and I started to get the creepy feeling that it's not just me getting older -- it's a world of disenchantment out there.
It started when I read that Exene Cervenka -- lead singer of amazing punk band X! -- had called the Santa Barbara shootings a "hoax" and I was like "WTF?" And then I was reading the comments on that and someone made reference to Moe Tucker being a Tea Partier. And then I was remembering how Tucker was the drummer for the Velvet Underground, but also sang the sweet but haunting Lou Reed song "I'm Sticking With You" (released on the Velvet Underground VU compilation album).
So then I looked it up, and it was true -- about her becoming part of the tea party, and other distressing things. And then I was thinking about all the associations I'd had with Tucker's voice in that song and how they would never be quite the same now that I had this particular detail in my mind.
Then I thought about how the whole enchantment things is really so twentieth-century. We all know so much stupid crap about everyone else, now. Everyone's stupidities are out there on display, and the downsides of everything are obvious.
It used to be mildly possible to imagine your favorite cool person would actually be cool in person, but now it's like forget it. Now even when things are presented as glamorous, it's some fake-out version of glamor created for social media.
I know there's a school of thought out there in which disenchantment is characteristic of the last few centuries in deep and pervasive ways, rooted in basic structures of the modern era like markets and science and bureaucracies.
But I think my examples suggest there's something specially disenchanted about right now. Clearly the possibility of mass production was no threat to the possibility of being enchanted by Andy Warhol -- on the contrary.
What we have now though, brought on by various forces, is a keen sense of the drudgery aspects of all kinds of things.
It's a new, millennial disenchantment, just for us.