Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Missive From My Generation

There are few moments when someone can claim, or does, speak for a generation. It is almost always by accident rather than design. What is, comes together in one person's fingers, and it is manifest only after the fact. The reason for the energy around the Iranian Election is that it brings myth and reality together, and fuses them into a simple imperative. In a way which the soap opera of Barack and the Village does not, and cannot, and will not. The Iranian Election speaks to, and for, our generation, because what is happening there, is not happening here.

We live in the dilemma of Graham Greene's Ministry of Fear, with a short sharp strangling of breath, against which we feebly struggle. We cannot fight injustice, so much as express our outrage at our sense of injustice. This is our myth: that enough exposure of injustice will lead, eventually to it's end. That the mass of human beings are inert because they are uninformed. All truth is viral: once seen, it must be witnessed to and participated in. 

This is also the reality: there truly are two arcs from the Iranian election, one that streaks in one direction, and another which descends down into a darker pit than any they know. It is not so with any of the other issue of the day, and certainly not the Soap Opera. The Soap Opera is not unimportant, because out of it comes the life we live. Bad bills, bad statements, bad actions. However, there is an unending wave of them, and the details are dull. All government is dull, and if you think government is dull, realize that I am one of the few people you will ever meet who has been paid to watch paint dry.

But the mastery of detail is a false protection from the truth that none of these individual battles divide the world into two, the way the Iranian election does. It is clear, at least to us, that these little battles are not skirmishes in some great battle between good and evil, but between naked evil, and veiled evil. Between purely insane, and self-satisfied self-loving stupor. Caught between the left and the right? No between the wrong and the wrong headed.

There are no riots on our streets, the truth is not denied by the powers in Washington DC, the way it is denied by the powers in Tehran. They admit that we are in hard times, they admit they do not share in those hard times, but dance at balls and float between happy appearances in bright clothes. They admit that we must accept our fate, consigned to sickness and starvation of hope. There is no fact which can be revealed which will break the power of the Ministry of Fear in America. That vast government agency, in which is employed, everyone hoping to sell their green green lawn to the next person. It is the agency that mandates sex crimes charges for sexting, assassinates doctors, lusts to ban so called violent video games and depictions of sex. It is more persuasive and pervasive than the secret police ever were in any dictatorship. When Frost wrote "I am the Grass," he was talking about war, but grass is even more chilling in peace. It destroys lives, marriages. We, the young, still remember, all too well, growing up in a penitentiary of grass.

So if you ask why we are not so eager on these small details, well, we are, individually. Individually attracted to this detail or that. To this or that shiny thing that we take back to the nests of our idenity and lay it as part of what makes us able to sit within it. But no small detail, save the one which is truly hidden, is enough. It's very nature as a small detail means that the fight for it is the fight of individuals who see that small detail. Why is it that the Administration has put a rider in the Supplemental, that is War, appropriation to block the release of detainee abuse photos? Why did the Bush administration block the flag draped coffins. We are not at war with Eurasia. We have never been at war with Eurasia. Because somewhere in these details is, they feign, they fear, the foresee, is the one detail that will cause people to revolt and recoil.

So Alexander, I write back that Iran's Election is missive for my generation. When the world stretches in two directions, between two roads, that end in two places, with two names, then there will be all of the activity on the priorities that you desire. Until then, when we are faced merely with scenic or expedient highways to hell, it will be a babel of voices, following perhaps this flag or that, like the souls in Dante's Limbo, and not the chorus you might prefer. We are without leaders, and while all truth is viral, we do not yet have a pandemic of it.

I am told the army is moving into Tehran, and the fears of an Incident seem confirmed. Tell me when there will be an Incident on the Mall, when what we have endured will finally be enough to take all in hand. It is not today, it was not yesterday, and it will not be tomorrow. But I think that day will come, and when it does, the world will shake not with GMT +3:3 but to the backdrop of marble and cherry trees.

No comments:

Post a Comment