Sunday, October 08, 2006

That 70's Show

I wish I was an adult in the 70's. Terrorism had sexy names like Baader Meinhoff Gang, the cocaine was wonderful and the sex came without such baggage as, well death. Radicalism was cool and revolution was as much ideology as it was pose and all the better for it.

The trouble is, I was an adult in the 70's. In Jamaica at the very least back then, there was no such thing as childhood. The cocoon of childhood, that delicious naivete that's essential for children to remain children was obliterated at about age 6 or 7, about the first time I saw a dead body or heard about politics. Because to live in the third world is to be defined by politics whether one likes it or not. Politics infiltrated everything, religion, society, culture, sex so much so that at times every decision one made was essentially political. Every action reverberated with political consequence. Before my ninth birthday I knew IMF was screwing up the economy, socialism was just an appetiser for the communist meal, gunmen would kill you for sporting the wrong colours and Reggae was the music of nasty people. I knew the Prime Minister by his biblical, demi-god nickname (Joshua, of course) and I knew why so many Jamaicans including my Dad clutched his Walter Rodney and his Eldridge Cleaver books.

In the 70's it wasn't just the children who were naive. Grown men and women living in a country barely over slavery had already begun to believe that capitalism had run its course, ignoring of course that Marx would have been horrified that such underdeveloped countries were trying on communism for size. The 70's were a decade of mistakes paid for in debt and death. A time when not even Bob Marley was safe from gun violence. It was the decade when the CIA may or may not have tried to destabilise the economy. It was the decade when my father would throw a block party just because he got his hands on corned beef.

Still I wish I was in my 20's or 30's in the 70's if for no other reason that it seems that that was the last time where anybody thought there was possibility. Maybe not in Jamaica but certainly elsewhere. Or maybe I'm still being naive. Or maybe I'm being a lot more superficial that I care to admit. After watching Munich the thing that stuck with me the most was how cool the clothes were. I'm not sure that what I'm saying has anything to do with the 70's or any or decade so much as I'm trying to say how disconnected I am from this one. Sometimes I wish for a massive global conflict just so the 21st century would start. I still feel that we're sifting through feedback from the 20th century instead of making up new explosions in the 21st. I'm impatient for 21st century lit, art, music, dance, sex, love, whatever, but feel that post modernism, that lazy act of reaction has rendered any ability to innovate dead.

Post modernism was the first movement with no creation whatsoever because it was more concerned with responding to what have been created before. As a man who came of age in this postmodern era I wonder if my generation will create anything. Even grunge was more reaction than creation, and response more than an idea. Even Pulp fiction was a response to film more than a film itself.

I wonder what the next punk rock will be. I wonder where the next Sartre is coming from. I wonder if we are capable of creating new myths and if my generation will be remembered for anything other than irony. I am intoxicated by all the good memories of the 70's despite knowing just how bad the bad was. I would like to matter to somebody and make a difference without thinking about it too much. I would like to write books that engage my generation and quite frankly it would be nice if my generation read more. I'd love a 70's in Germany or a 20's in Paris or a sixties in California or even a 50's in Cuba. I'm just anxious for the 21st century to start. Or maybe it is I who need to start something.