Apparently, the quest for the male soul involves Halle Berry and staging your own assassination. Sounds about right to me.
Way back in the day when I was but an incorrigible miscreant lodged for my own good in all-boys Catholic school, I had a religion teacher who was just about the funniest bastard I’ve ever met. He humped televisions; likened riding sport motorcycles to the feeling of going doggystyle; and made Chewbacca noises whenever crusty old alums came creaking through the corridors to see how their filthy lucre was being spent. You had to be there, I suppose.
One of the themes that he always harped on about when he wasn’t killing us with laughter was that whether one was studying the finer points of transubstantiation or understanding Bulworth as a morality play, all learning is about the quest for “deeper meaning”–always said of course with air quotes and a faux-Carl Sagan voice. While plenty of this went over my head or through it, I’ve never quite lost the feeling that whenever I’m studying something, I’m embarking on some search for existential truth. While I doubt the answer to existence can be found in housing price tables and racist, post-modern screeds about materialism, it doesn’t stop me from being a total philosophizing killjoy–after all, there’s the off chance that I can actually connect two dots that wouldn’t otherwise be linked to one another.
I would be remiss, however–indeed, derelict in my duties as an aspiring servant of the public–if I did not draw these lines between what’s transpired and is transpiring in the financial sector and it’s broader impact on international politics. Part of the paradox inherent in having little to no policy reform in a time of such obvious upheaval is that no one’s quite sure what’s going on. Sure, there are people out there who know how CDO’s work; and everyone can see the basic effects of the continued economic instability on both the economy and society as a whole. Where the two meet and how they interact, however, remains a muddle to economists, Joe Schmoes, and poor muppets like me trying to bring some sort of explanation to this madness.
This is how I feel when I try to put this into a coherent narrative.
The populist confusion (DEY TOOK MAH JERBism, one can call it), the inability to find a way out of a system burdened with both debt and political paralysis, and the failure of policymakers to respond appropriately to the proliferation of derivatives and their (un)intended consequences on the world-at-large–to me, it all reeks of a basic feeling of incomprehension and trepidation at the forces shaping global society and what the 21st century will look like. There’s plenty to be scared of, to be sure, but there’s also plenty of grasping for old, familiar crutches (even when they express a broader, legitimate point) that don’t particularly change much save for an small, added degree of comfort. It seems pretty futile, however, to cling to rending of garments as the ultimate expression of frustration with the status quo while simultaneously submitting nothing more substantive to replace what has placed us all in this mess in the first instance.
So, then, what comes next? Regulating derivatives is nice and all (and quite necessary–for example, why the fuck are they still recorded on paper?!?); and figuring out how to (in the words of the legendary Johan Cruijff) “not be the thieves of our own wallets” by burying ourselves in each others’ debts is another avenue worth exploring. I wonder, though, if this is enough to fix things. I rather doubt it, given how persistent inequalities both within societies and between nations remain and how much of a drag this will continue to be upon finding some semblance of stability and peace…ain’t no use having an avenue to place your complaints and thoughts if you can’t eat, after all.