Saturday, March 5, 2011

Modern Life Isn't War (Protip: It is. Just not for us.)

If you have ever wanted to live in a time of great turmoil and upheaval and change, Egypt and Libya should tell you in no uncertain terms: You always have been. The earth is gigantic. There is always something happening, somewhere, some little bit of change or swing bubbling under the surface and whether it gets squashed or not is up to the dictator that runs the country. This will always be happening.

More to the point, it feels more than a little bit embarrassing to be watching videos about videogames on the internet and not doing something to help real, live, actual human beings fight their actual oppressors for the ability to decide how the country they live in ought to be run. I am listening, right now, to an industry analyst talk about 10 million dollars for an SKU of a videogame involving guns. And then watching the remix of All I Do Is Win, which I'm pretty sure is a commercial for someone's alcohol and the vindication of all the people who keep the schedules of Nicki Minaj, Ludacris, Puffy, T-Pain and Fat Joe (there's a name I haven't heard in years) to get them all in the same room, messing around with each other on camera for just long enough to get some quality shots of everyone with a half-full bottle of whatever that alcohol is and then get out.

Reading a Pitchfork column called Why We Fight seems pretty hilarious in this context, too. What, exactly, do you fight for, leaps to mind. The next one in mine, of course, is what do I fight for? And the silence.

And the silence doesn't do me any favors in a world where people, are, in fact, fighting for things that matter. Do I fight for anything that means anything? (And I don't mean an imagined ideal. I mean something concrete. Like broken glass under my swaddled feet.)

There's more to say about silences, but I think Bolano captures the heart of it. I'm quoting from By Night In Chile here.

One has a moral obligation to take responsibility for one’s actions, and that includes one’s words and silences, yes, one’s silences, because silences rise to heaven too, and God hears them, and only God understands and judges them, so one must be very careful with one’s silences. I am responsible in every way. My silences are immaculate.

The trick, is that the person's silences are not immaculate and the entire story is the priest recounting the strangeness of his life and his sins on his deathbed. But yes, what does my silence on "issues" like Egypt or Tunesia mean? Surely, these dictators are bad and repressing their people, but taking a "stand" against that stuff from the safety of America seems...presumptuous at best and insulting at worst.

I'm left with my immaculate silence.

In the same way that Why We Fight is tangentially related, so is The Few That Remain (ft. Haley Williams) by Set Your Goals. In theory, the song is about the "real" artists who are trying to stick together through tough times. Haley Williams, of course, is from Paramore, a band that was basically created as the vehicle for her star by her father/manager. Huh.

Ignoring all the meta stuff, the song still rules. Press play. Smile and work for a better tomorrow.

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