I discovered a very interesting blog written by Joe Bageant called Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War, which appears to be a series of diatribes about America following a similar collection of essays published in book form having the same title. The author’s take on our current cultural situation makes a great deal of sense to me. Although he refers to class war (he identifies himself as a liberal redneck — an obvious oxymoron), I find he reads more like cultural criticism. His references to gin-influenced tirades and the angry, screaming man inside him that can’t be let out in public sound way too much like my own deep frustrations that dare not be voiced too fully (though I’m only rarely drunkenly out of control). His seat-of-the-pants, “juss folks” style is very colorful and descriptive, though by no means does he skimp on content or insight. Frankly, his approach is probably far more palatable to most readers than my own. I’ve added his blog to my blogroll.
A couple things in his latest post, Madmen and Sedatives: Inside the Iron Theater, bear some comment on my part:
A hell of a lot of wrong choices built the 200-year long road to where we now find ourselves, and I must admit that my generation did its share of the paving, laying down much of the roadbed during the Sixties. Despite much talk since then about the Sixties fight for moral justice, talk still easily launched by the pop of a chardonnay cork or the appearance of The Grateful Dead at the local arena, nearly to a man or woman, my generation, regardless of affluence, has traded principles for simple materialism. Assuming of course, they had any identifiable principles, which most didn’t.
The appearance of principled action back in the 60s that turned out not to be so much about principles, at least if you take the current preoccupations (Bageant’s “simple materialism”) of that generation as evidence, is a worthwhile trap for any generation to be wary of. It’s difficult to assess any generation since then acting out of principle, either high-minded or pedestrian. Indeed, the overwhelmingly typical story arc of any lifetime in modern America is one of youthful struggle to attain the comforts of middle class contentment or better.
So we now we find principles treated as mere opinion by most young people and their parents, call it diversity tolerance overshoot, and any answers posed to the great questions of our age neatly written off. Global warming? Just some scientists’ opinion. The unjustness of our wars? More opinion. Inequity in society? In whose opinion? Wastefulness of our lifestyle? A matter of opinion.
Bageant never writes postmodernism (pomo), deconstructionism, or radical relativism. That would be my own stiff, academic approach (I’ve at least relaxed enough to end a few sentences with prepositions). But of course, that’s what he’s referring to. He probably makes the point better than I would, so I’ll have to try to remember to use his phrase: diversity tolerance overshoot.
So I recommend Bageant for your reading and consideration. Tell him Brutus sent ya.