Yestereve, I contemplated so much how today’s youth can survive the world wrought by their parents and grandparents, that I dreamed about it.
I especially want to thank my friend Matthew for asking for further clarification. Below you will see a slight variation of my response to him on my Facebook page. Writing that just before sleepy time probably did the trick to keep it all percolating while I was in the land of the Sandman.
But first… the dream:
I was in a place that was simultaneously Heidelberg, Germany, & Denton, Texas. My mentor, Richard Owsley, and I were organizing a conference on philosophizing as a way of life.
We were driving around small streets near Heidelberg University that would end up at spots around the University of North Texas.
The meeting was happening on New Years Eve and the Owl had requested that I get a music group to entertain guests. For whatever reason, the singing group One Direction agreed to be the entertainment at no cost to us (which made Owsley very happy as he was complaining about how much the conference was costing him out of his own pocket).
Soon, the Owl told me goodbye because he had to be on his way home now the meeting was over. He asked me to take care of all the students who had come, to stay up late to welcome in the New Year with the band and my friends.
As I often do on such holidays while interacting with young friends, I told a lot of jokes and tried to keep everyone having a great time. Part of my duties were to let everyone know when midnight was about to happen. But we were all having such a good time laughing, making music, and telling stories, I totally forgot. Christopher, My buddy-friend-guy, asked, “Hey what time is it?” I blurted out, “1:21 am.”
Louis Tomlinson stopped kissing my friend Autumn long enough to tell me I was the worst time keeper in history but Harry Styles shushed him and asked me to teach everyone the lyrics to Gloria Gaynor‘s “I Will Survive.” The music started out of nowhere, and my friends Ronnie & Ashleigh began dancing with Harry & the buddy-friend-guy while I sang the song. Then I woke up.
Now, this dream is the clearest, most vivid dream I have had in a very long time. And there are obviously a lot of personal issues being intertwined with my thoughts about millennials.
My first impressions–and I will be pondering over this dream for a very long time, methinks–are that I find myself between the World War II generation and the millenials. That is, I am shaped by my mentor’s concern for me and my concern for my young friends. The first thing that caught my attention and really woke me up was realizing not a single member of the Boomer or X generations were present in the dream. (Born in 1964, I actually fall in a chiasm between the two.)
Moreover, there is a spectre of Karl Jaspers (with whom the Owl studied) because half of the bilocational city is Heidelberg where Jaspers studied & taught. New Years Eve as the time bespeaks a change from the old to the new, and of course Prof. Owsley leaves before the year is out while I stay behind with young friends. That space and time are each literally cut-in-two highlights the necessity of being decisive (to-cut-off, to-cut-from).
One Direction represents both popular culture and the structure of how Boomers & Gen-Xers are predetermining the path for Millennials. 1D is made up of some talented young men who were literally put together by the likes of Simon Cowell to be a kind of commodity. Obviously, they should ride the ride and get when they can out of this. But I would say that to any youth who is put in a position of having certain “popular” dreams come true. But the unidirectional course set out for today’s youth is based on the accidents of history by which their grandparents & parents had, for all intents and purposes, bought deeply into the notion or folktale of “infinite growth.”
Finally, that I am asked to teach & sing along with “I Will Surive” conjures both the decadence of Disco era Boomers as well as a hope that the youth of today–screwed by that very decadence–might be able to divorce themselves from their grandparents & parents, find a path that decides from what is actually happening to them, and lets them develop both joyous & excellent relationships within authentic freedom.
All of this being said, I now offer you, dear cousins of the Ether, the back & forth I mentioned having with my friend Matthew on Facebook last night before I went to bed:
MGV: Interesting piece that grabbed my attention; however, I’m unclear on the ‘how to survive’ bit. Can you clarify?
KWB: Here is my variation on the basic 1-4 outlined by Goldberg in the piece I linked to here after my opening commentary.
1. Develop the ability to make and to do, not just make-do.
This means developing skills and crafts that actually produce. Because industrial production–and its management by the educutated classes–can now be accomplished mostly by machines with only a few humans involved, the youth of today should be looking into using their hands and/or their computer skills to produce objects & solutions. We need plumbers, carpenters, glass blowers, code writers, electronic technicians, etc. But there is no guarantee that this will give you a job forever. The more crafts (both real and virtual) that you develop, the freer you will be from the system recommended by your grandparents/parents.
2. Learn to think for yourself by hacking the information available on the Interweb.
Organized education as part of the industrial complexes has lived past its usefulness. We do not live in a society where being a professional is a necessary avenue to success. You should continue to hack learning and expand your information/knowledge basis (this gives you more opportunities). Do-it-yourself is entering a whole new era. We need experts, but we do not need so many degreed professionals as they mostly existed to guide a national industrial capitalism that has given way to global financial capitalism.
3. Generate decisions for yourself that rely on attending to how things are TODAY.
Boomers & Gen-Xers (grandparents & parents) of Millennials existed at pivotal point in history where the accidents of a horrific world war left in a position to gain the fruits of national industrial capitalism. But you don’t live in those circumstances. The conventional wisdom and path arising from these circumstances are now so narrowed down, they are merely a trace. They were already on the decline since before Reagan. That is why the working and middle classes have seen their earnings stagnate.
4. Develop friendships with folks who take responsibility for their lives & decisions.
In the end, you have to detach yourself for anyone who continues to follow the path laid out by Boomers & Gen Xers. And you must recognize how it is only in the cultivating of such friendships that you will achieve freedom. That word is very special: Freedom etymologically means “doomed to be free”. But even further down in the rhizomes of ownmost spekaing, freedom intends that we MUST DO FRIENDSHIP. (-dom: doom–> Must Do; free–>friend).
Obviously, the philosophical concepts contained in this are not new notions that are just coming into being. They have pointed out by sages over thousands of years, not the least among these being Socrates, Laozi, & Buddha. What Goldberg provides is the impetus to see the current situation.
Does that make it clearer or more clouded Matthew?
MGV: Clears a lot up. Gives me a lot to think about, and a decent amount to worry over.
KWB: I grok the worry. Still–and I would not presume to speak for the Goldberg fellow–I am not pointing these things out to elicit what I call F.E.A.R. (False Evidence Appearing Real) but authentic care & caution.
Being mindful of our feelings allows us to remain open to possibilities on our path we would not see otherwise and, therefore, to take decisive action.
Succumbing to unhealthy worry or F.E.A.R. closes down our opportunity & pre-determines a course with only the narrowest of choices.
Now, not too be too cheezy (forgive me if you think it is), but it actually bears saying if you would remember that the Encompassing Good is always already open…