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Ars Gratia Fructis

It’s Tuesday, the day I answer my mail. I’ve gotten a lot in the last week, a lot of it in response to my series “Generations” on the potential for major generational change in the US election of 2008. But first, I liked this one:

I don’t think it’s fair to focus on the publishing industry when all of the arts and artists are spending a lot of time wringing their hands about the future of their craft.

An excellent point. The more I think about it, this is the most important thing that anyone has thrown back at me in a while – and my whining about the state of things gets a lot of things hurled in my direction. But it is true that arts are in a great state of flux right now, particularly in the richest nations. How many movies made have a number in their title? How many painters are major cultural figures? Even in music, the most accessible and visceral of all forms is stagnant currently. The great hopes are coming from less-rich nations like Brasil and India; while we can import their music and other art easily, however, the written word needs good translations.

Why is art in such a state of flux? Some of it I have no idea about, some is probably a response to chasing material wealth too long and hard, but a lot is likely generational change. And that’s my topic of the moment:

OK, so you wrote about the generational change in the election. Why didn’t you just come out and say you support Obama and this is his playbook?

I support Obama and I think this is his playbook. Happy? I did it the way I did because I’d like people to understand how and why the generational change will make a very different strategy possible whether they are Democrats or not. The potential change is a real event that it would be silly to have an opinion on; how to exploit it is up to you.

You glossed over differences between GenX and GenY constantly, which doesn’t make sense. Obama’s message is one of Hope, which won’t have the GenX appeal that you can count on to group them together.

I skipped over that because I felt that being cynical or hopeful is a stereotype. I go in and out of cynicism constantly myself, and I’ve been known to be hopeful. While there’s little doubt that, on average, Gen-Xers have a higher threshold to believe in things, we can do it. We even enjoy it when it happens. While I think we can easily describe how experiences growing up will color attitudes, on average, I don’t think we can really get into divisions based on hope. In short, we’re not that freakin’ sour, are we?

Do you really think that opinions on what you call the “American Empire” are generational? Wouldn’t that depend more on things like national origin and class?

I decided to ignore class issues entirely, which I realize could be a shortcoming. But in the end, I do think that your opinion about our Empire depends on how much you came to believe you owed it for protecting you at some point in your life. Traditionals helped to create what we have out of necessity and fear, and Boomers who grew up ducking and covering got at least a little of that drilled into them with grainy black and white films. Those of us who grew up seeing the limits of our Empire and those who grew up after the fall of Communism (which roughly includes all Millenials) wouldn’t have any reason to find it particularly useful other than its ability to deliver cheap gasoline; at $4 a gallon, well, even that argument is pretty thin.

I think there’s an ethnic and class issue you could raise here, as you can in any war; even the Civil War was derided as “Rich man’s war, poor man’s fight” in its day. What I’m arguing is that there is a point where even the rich aren’t interested in the war, and that point is coming soon because of generational change.

That’s all I have space for this week. If you like what you see, please let your family and friends know that I’m out here trying to get a good discussion going – one that you won’t hear in the mainstream press. That’s what this is all about, whether you think I’m on to something important or seriously delusional. Whatever the case, send me mail as wabbitoid47 at yahoo.com and I promise to write back.

Thanks for reading, it’s for my readers that I do this at all!

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