Friday, October 21, 2005

Voice of a post-modern generation

If you've read this blog much at all, you know I am most fond of Canadian author Douglas Coupland, author of the very misunderstood Generation X.

I do not admire Coupland for his point of view, which is based in a mysterio quasi-theistic worldview that only nibbles at Christian themes. He is not a philosopher, although his writing may inspire his readers to reflect in such a way. He is, for my money, the most fluid writer of my generation and -- if he can avoid the pitfalls of his retro obsessions -- will join a handful as one of the greatest writers of the modern (and post-modern) age.

What I find endearing about Coupland's work is an ability to communicate a cultural shift on the fly. He does not speak for an entire generation, but then, he is quick to point out the homogenized group-thought that identified previous 20th Century first-world generations expired with us. We are now all armies of one.

It's difficult to convince anyone to pick up a book by an author they are not familiar with, particularly if the author does not write courtroom drama page-turners using lowest common denominator English. However, I want to offer an excerpt from Life After God because I think revelatory about what kind of writer Douglas Coupland is and what's going through the mind of a real-life post-modernist who doesn't know Jesus:
Life was charmed but without politics or religion. it was the life of children of the children of the pioneers--life after God--a life of earthly salvation on the edge of heaven. Perhaps this is the finest thing to which we may aspire, the life of peace, the blurring between dream life and real life--and yet I find myself speaking these words with a sense of doubt. I think there was a trade-off somewhere along the line.

I think the price we paid for our golden life was an inability to fully believe in love; instead we gained an irony that scorched everything it touched. And I wonder if this irony is the price we paid for the loss of God.

But then I must remind myself we are living creatures--we have religious impulses--we must --and yet into what cracks do these impulses flow in a world without religion? It is something I think about every day. Sometimes I think it is the only thing I should be thinking about.

Some facts about me: I think I am a broken person. I seriously question the road my life has taken and I endlessly rehash the compromises I have made in my life. I have an unsecure and vaguely crappy job with an amoral corporation so that I don't have to worry about money. I put up with halfway relationships so as not to have to worry about loneliness. I have lost the ability to recapture the purer feelings of my younger years in exchange for a streamlined narrow-mindedness that I assumed would propel me to "the top." What a joke.

Compromise is said to be the way of the world and yet I find myself feeling sick trying to accept what it has done to me:the little yellow pills, the lost sleep. But I don't think this is anything new in the world.

This is not to say my life is bad. I know it isn't...but my life is not what I expected it might have been when I was younger. Maybe you yourself deal with this issue better than me. Maybe you have been lucky enough to never have inner voices question you about your own path--or maybe you answered the questioning and came out on the other side. I don't feel sorry for myself in any way. I am merely coming to grips with what I know the world is truly like.

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