September 13, 2008 1 Comment
How to explain the death of a powerful crush? Curiously enough (or not curiously at all), I too talked to a beloved mutual friend about firecrackers, only in a romantical connection—-namely, the problem of love/hating them.
The Firecracker (Male) is exciting. He takes you to unexpected places and shows a different way of rubbing elbows with the world. His gift is his uniqueness and his insistence on that uniqueness–his cultivation of what you rightly identify as sophistication or indie-intellect. It’s a beautiful facade; the boy equivalent of makeup or a Joan-Holloway-type foundation garment. The problem is that the structures underlying all this are only informed by real passion (in our metaphor, a flawless complexion? a perfect torso?) half the time. The rest of the time this creature’s life is governed by the need to feed the monsters of exclusivity and rarefied taste.
Having written that, I think it’s wrong. I wish it were really just a question of authenticity vs. pretension. I don’t think it is. I used to think that the virulent strain of contempt displayed by the urban sophisticate was all bluster. It was a comfort to think that no one really cared all that much, that these determined forays into the unvisited corners of the internet (or the record store, or the video rental place) were fact-gathering missions. These are our modern-day explorers, the people who dig up the crazy and funny and arcane and present it to you. They’re the docents of the world, and I love their investigative powers and their passion and their insistence on finding the out-of-the-way thing.
The fact is, though, that what drives that kind of research is avoidance–or hatred–or judgment–of the in-the-way thing, otherwise they probably wouldn’t bother.
Now I know we’re all guilty of these sorts of judgments, but the fact is that as much as I hate Tucker Max, I don’t despise his readers. I don’t find them stupid and blinkered, and I can’t despise the structures that produced them. And he’s a more pernicious influence than, say, Napoleon Dynamite. Or Sleepless in Seattle. It’s like hating someone for eating junk food. Sure, you could make better choices, but I have a hard time getting really worked up about the fact that the Moldy Peaches song at the end of Juno shows up three times earlier.
But they do get worked up, even when they’re not creating anything in their own right. How right you are to point out that people get inarticulate when asked to explain their opinions. Is it too embarrassing? Does it expose the wiring too crudely? Is it that they really haven’t thought about it? You say you find this exhausting–I wish you would say more. I hunger for that kind of explanation; I want so badly to understand the steps of reasoning, the premises, the aesthetic underpinnings. I want this education because in its absence I find the Firecrackers paralyzing. I find them toxic.
And yet I’m drawn to them like sodium to chloride. Married one, in fact.
The end of my story is that I WISH it were pretentiousness. I could overlook that. The shock of my marriage was that it wasn’t–Firecrackers are actually filled with gunpowder, not bathhouse salts that gently scrub your impurities away and reveal your better self. There’s a kickback, there’s blue flame. They’re the .44, not our .22 Gunnie.
Our friend observed, and I think she’s right, that the truly interesting Firecracker is so because the “interesting” choice is always the one that permits the attachments of the world to fall away like a shiny piece of tinfoil wrapping a tuna sandwich. In this respect I agree wholeheartedly with your account of wickedness as the easiest path to Firecrackerness. Whether wickedness, mania, etc., masks a lack of talent or is a necessary evil for it, I wouldn’t like to say.
This actually reminds me of the idea of the Calvinist elect–a certain predestined few are Chosen, so everyone must behave as if they were. If not, they betray that they are not. You yourself have taught me to accept, grudgingly, that some of the Firecrackers are indeed Chosen People.
My fantasy, I suppose, is an inclusive Firecracker.
My crush was not one.
I feel I’ve been of very little comfort to you in dealing with your own Firecrackers. I wish for you matches and a long wick.
Let’s stay in the sixties. I leave you to choose our first film, and I promise to watch it within a day. Today, even!