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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    What will you tell your kids about today?

    I’m graduating this semester, which means I’m an adult, and I might have a kid in the next five years.

    This is a catastrophe, so to ease my mind I’m preparing answers for the tough questions my child will ask me. As you read, ask yourself: What will you say when those big, curious eyes are goggling at you?

    Dad, when you and Grandpa were kids, you watched that show “”Star Trek.”” How come the world isn’t like that show yet?

    Because, kid, “”Star Trek”” presented an impossible dream world in which humanity has peacefully come together to form a Kantian unified society, yet distinct ethnic and racial groups maintain their cultural heritages. This won’t ever happen because our cultural differences lead to an “”us-them”” mentality that prevents cross-cultural cooperation.

    If we are ever going to form a peaceful, global community, it will happen because of economic interdependence and cultural imperialism leading to the elimination of strong ethnic and nationalist divides. People don’t like that idea because their distinguishing cultural and religious backgrounds are what give their lives meaning. “”Star Trek”” offered an unrealistic future we all want: one where there is no war or poverty on Earth, and yet some people continue to speak in thick Scottish. It resolved the ambivalence we feel toward globalization by coupling its unifying effects with the preservation of cultural differences. Unfortunately, kid, we’re either going to be unified or tribal – not both.

    OK, I get it, Dad. But speaking of old TV, why do you make me watch boring black-and-white movies and read all these dumb old books? None of the other kids do that shit anymore.

    In my day, you would’ve been too young to use that word. But as to your question, one thing my generation started to forget is that history repeats itself and the fundamental issues of human existence remain the same. Just because our technological development has far outpaced our general cultural and psychological development doesn’t mean that we should ignore the insights of past artists and thinkers. In fact, it’s the opposite – as art grows continually more commercialized and academics specialized, we have fewer and fewer people creating and thinking in a holistic way that tackles the major problems inherent in the human condition. So not only do people forget that pretty much everything that is said or done has been said or done before, they also don’t realize that it usually has been said or done in a richer way. Empirical science is of course sometimes an exception to this principle.

    Alright, that makes sense, Dad. But why did the rock music of your generation tend to suck compared with rock music from Grandpa’s generation?

    Well, there were two main reasons for that, kid. One was that the bands of my day copied earlier bands’ styles, whereas rock was new when grandpa was a kid so those bands were creating original approaches by combining influences outside of rock. So while the Talking Heads developed a completely new sound, bands of my day like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah just tried to approximate it instead of doing their own thing. Another problem was that by the time it got to my youth, all black influence had been removed from rock. Traditionally black styles such as blues and Motown were the initial wellsprings of rock music, and African-style rhythm and bluesy lyrical content fueled white rockers for decades. This made the music cool, energetic and somewhat cross-cultural. But by the 2000s, all-white bands were playing music with little bass and a whiny vocal style lamenting teenage angst. As a friend of mine once put it, the Arcade Fire was the whitest music ever – whiter than Bach.

    You seem to have strong opinions, Dad. Do you think its OK for me to have sex with robots?

    Of course! The moms and dads who say that’s wrong are the ones who in my day said it was bad to be homosexual. They’re around in every generation. They don’t like the fact of reproduction because it reminds them that they’re animals, so they try to sanctify it by making it a holy act that should be reserved for marriage. Actually, it’s just a biological fact and we’re designed to want to get our thing on. Given the fact that there’s not enough room at school for your poorer friends because of our swelling population, you’ll be doing your generation a service by relieving sexual tension through harmless modern technology.

    OK, just one more for today. What was it like living when the war was going on? Did you know anybody in it? Did you do anything to try and stop it?

    Yeah, I knew a guy who saw someone’s face get blown off while he was sitting next to him. I’d like to say I did more to try to end it. All I really did, though, was complain in newspaper articles.

    Daniel Sullivan is a senior majoring in German studies and psychology. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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