I found myself, in a moment of desperation, writing the word MEME in all caps on the board today. I was at a loss to explain to my students why I knew so much about "Sarah Palin's Children," "Ted Bundy," "Natalee Holloway," "Tblisi, Georgia," and "Radical Neo-Con Pundit Arlo Harshenstein," and to be honest, the months of trying to express myself openly with them about the interlocking truth behind all media had driven me to a state of caffeine addled madness anyway. I intentionally left out that hyphen.
See. I've lost it, my work is inexplicably spilling across all boundaries, flooding me as though the proverbial Noah's Ark of my consciousness has been cracked open upon the stalwart rocks of indignant, persistent, cold reality, spilling the many paired animals of my better nature into an utterly unfit aquatic evolutionary ecology.
But I wrote MEME on the board and this act seemed to recenter us. And I realized that old truth, that bits of absurdity amplified by redundancy have always defined us as a species, however one configures the gaze--that for every cliched expression there was some idiot who got wasted and died in Aruba who "broke the mold" in the setting of "the mold" as it were.
After classes today, as I was having dinner with a few of my colleagues, I actually found myself saying, in all sober seriousness, "I think, in thirty years, people will look back on 2005 as the most significant year for the transformation of human culture ever." I went on to elaborate, for reasons long since tired (but nevertheless somehow still refreshing), why the year was so special, how the bizarre amplification of insignificance on the part of the 24-7 Blogomedia in an unanticipated way re-humanized us, let us experience the Natalee Holloway directly instead of through the intercession of a reporter. What was it they said, "Everyman his own columnist"? Oh those halcyon days. And remind me, what did this pave the way for, in terms of internet-based something, something laughed off after 2004, perhaps?
Yes it turned, and it turned most of all with Schiavo, with the conservative movement's un-ironic reductio ad absurdum of its "principled" valuation of "any life" over the needs of all the desperately living. Terri Marie Schiavo was not someone about whom any of us should have ever heard. Her pseudo-tragic story should have ended privately. This is obvious. But we did hear about her and of little beyond her for many months back in those early mements of 2005, with Bush just re-sworn-in and a conservative hegemony in Congress sustained. We heard, and they took proto-McCain-Campaign-Suspensionary action, opening an emergency session on Palm Sunday in order to pass some absurdly invasive law in order to reroute the jurisdiction governing the case... I mean, really, they did more then in terms of theater and unified action than we have seen during this whole ridiculous economic crisis... But anyway.
That was the moment we should have known the jig was up, that we had seen one too many Video Professor ads and we had finally decided to "try his product", to speak euphemistically. I have been cynical about politics for a long time, but in my recent reflections on 2005 and what has happened since then, it has become all too clear what has swallowed all of us. We are like Schiavo, permanently vegetative, caught in the vice-like tug of an indifferent whirlpool, unaware we should be screaming for our lives.