Jan 15, 2008

not emo enough

Eric G. Wilson worries that we're becoming too happy:
Why are most Americans so utterly willing to have an essential part of their hearts sliced away and discarded like so much waste? What are we to make of this American obsession with happiness, an obsession that could well lead to a sudden extinction of the creative impulse, that could result in an extermination as horrible as those foreshadowed by global warming and environmental crisis and nuclear proliferation? What drives this rage for complacency, this desperate contentment?

Surely all this happiness can't be for real. How can so many people be happy in the midst of all the problems that beset our globe — not only the collective and apocalyptic ills but also those particular irritations that bedevil our everyday existences, those money issues and marital spats, those stifling vocations and lonely dawns? Are we to believe that four out of every five Americans can be content amid the general woe? Are some people lying, or are they simply afraid to be honest in a culture in which the status quo is nothing short of manic bliss? Aren't we suspicious of this statistic? Aren't we further troubled by our culture's overemphasis on happiness? Don't we fear that this rabid focus on exuberance leads to half-lives, to bland existences, to wastelands of mechanistic behavior?
Wilson's gist: our flaws make us interesting, and we need a good dose of sadness to appreciate, explore, and grow out of pain. It's well-trodden ground, and potentially rebutted by a healthy dose of existentialism, but well worth thinking about.

I'm surprised that Wilson seems to miss the whole "emo" movement, where melancholy is oh-so-hip. Must be his level of teaching. Maybe by university, kids grow out of Dashboard Confessional.

At least, I hope they do.


TheTachyix said...

Most people stop using it to tell you about the bands they love.

M.T. McLaughlin said...

The "emo" movement has thrown things out of whack in more than one way. There's a certain level of discrimination going around, so much so that you could be called "emo" just for having a bad day.

I'd assume people struggle with that. I know a lot of people who are simply afraid to show emotion.

Also, I blame cartoons.