Last night I rambled over to the E.Vil to see my friend and former roommate Dan, who had sent out a big TXT inviting all and sundry to the Ave B. bar run by Dictators frontman, Handsome Dick Manitoba. It was nice to see him, nice to get out in the city. That whole scene is really on another level now... Band members and Bankers, most of whom went to high school or college together. Strange social class echoes, but ok.
There are still lots and lots of pretty girls out there in the world. I'm happy where I'm at, but it's nice to know the carnival is still alive, to spectate a bit. I like to feel the tug of the scene, being around beautiful and nominally successful people. Most of the time I don't let myself enjoy that, my internal anti-elitist judgments crowding in quicklike.
As I made my way home I was wondering about the nature and necessity of authentic experience in our (my) 21st-century lives. By "authentic" I suppose I mean unmediated, unfiltered, and largely uncontrolled. It seems to me that the main curse of the postmodern condition is the awareness of referrentiality, the high saturation of irony, the paradigmatic embrace of pastiche as the underlying basis for reality. On one level I accept all these things as true, but on another level I very much dislike how hard the makes it to be "in the moment," as we used to say in Art School.
Urban living requires a certain amount of intellectual and emotional buffering on the part of the individual for the sake of survival. You have to be able to be very close to other people and treat them like objects. Coupling that with the observational perspective I'm trying to describe, the view that everything is made up of something else and that this can be investigated, unpacked, it's easy to get hung up on self-anthropology, a blend of narcissism and the deconstucting gaze.
I think this is part of the reason alcohol is such a popular drug. If you deaden enough of your forebrain, you'll eventually loose the mental capacity to maintain a critical perspective, at which point you're free from all this garbage. Problem is that you may find in reaching this point that you've scraped much of your personality off in the process, and may be unable to maintain a coherent conversation, an erection, or a number of other things which you might wish you could keep up in the moment.
When I was walking to the bar, I passed this group of people on their way to some party or another. They were done up pretty, and two of the girls had some kind of face-paint accent, a bold black equals-sign under one eye. It was striking. Because it was extraordinary enough to knock me out of my normal observational process, it caused me to re-evaluate the whole situation, leading to an authentic moment of envy. I felt that these people were most likely off to some place much more interesting and fun than me, that their lives were probably more exciting and glamorous.
Usually I don't feel that way. Usually I rigorously maintain a sense of superiority. It's part of my professional persona. Coupled with the relentless and automatic process of critical analysis, it keeps me from ever really being vulnerable, which is an essential attribute of the authentic experience, methinks.
This is old territory in a lot of ways. I've been finding myself coming back around to a lot of the good old lessons and philosophies that I built up in the past, and finding it hard to take my own advice to heart. I don't think that I'm wrong, I just find myself (or, rather, my recorded past thoughts) uninspiring. Sort of feels like a rebirth or renewal is needed. Dunno really. We'll see.
... much later on in time, it turns out this post gets a high google rank for "authentic experience." That's kind of cool. If you're into that thing, you should check the homepage and see what's shakin'.