they're actually floating inert
Monday, October 27 2003
Rain fell most of the day, causing all the little streams to turn into raging torrents. Gretchen and I took Sally and Eleanor on a walk in the woods, and they were full of leafy autumnal puddles.
I had a housecall out beyond Bearsville today, and a tributary of Saw Kill that runs along Wittenberg Road had nearly jumped out of its banks from all the rain it was burdened with transporting.
My job on this housecall was mostly to remove adware and spyware. I have to hand it to the fine folks at BonziBuddy - their insipid purple "web companion" has become a major part of my business model.
I'm always especially happy to get housecalls at residences served by RoadRunner, since it usually means they're using Internet Explorer and I can easily convert them to using Mozilla instead. It's a sell that doesn't involve me saying much more than "No more popups." (By contrast, most of my clients using dialup are also using AOL and such people don't understand what a web browser is, let alone the benefits of Mozilla.) My client today was a freelance writer, and an added bonus was showing her all the writerly capabilities of the Mozilla Googlebar.
This evening I watched something on HBO called Born Rich, which appeared to be a documentary made by Johnson and Johnson heir Jamie Johnson during his considerable idle time (and with, one would imagine, no reasonable expense spared). Being a fabulously rich heir and knowing lots of other fabulously rich heirs, Johnson decided to make a movie documenting the world views and lifestyles of young people who will never have to lift a finger their entire lives.
I was sitting on the couch drinking booze as I watched it, and I found myself experiencing several layers of reaction. The first was a revulsion to the nonchalant way in which these rich people waste money. There was one scene in which Ivanka Trump stood in her old childhood bedroom, which has, she claimed, sat unused since the 1980s. It was still exactly as she'd left it, complete with at least two Bon Jovi posters on the wall. Outside the window of this room was a stunning view of Central Park. In a city that never preserves anything because of the immense force of property values, enormous wealth had casually created a time capsule with a zillion-dollar view. I had a similar reaction to a scene where the rich kids talked about how much money they blow every weekend when they get together at an exclusive restaurant in South Hampton, a place where the cheapest bottle of champagne is $250 and where there's a per-table minimum of two bottles.
Living this way divides these people from all but a tiny (and very distorted) fraction of civilization. This leads me to another reaction I had: a strange sympathy for the plight of super-rich young people. Here they are, sealed off from the normal things in society, never socializing with anyone outside their exclusive pathetic, hermetic world of rich white people. They can never develop as real human beings because they're actually floating inert in tubs with tubes supplying their every need. Vast amounts of money pumps a Matrix-like fantasy world directly into their consciousness.
On some level, (and this was the most disturbing of my reactions) I could also relate to the predicament of these rich kids. They're wasting their lives because they can do anything, so (for the most part) they choose to do nothing. Creativity, after all, is all about reacting to rules and limits. Without those limits, creativity loses its zest like a clove of garlic loosed in a ten gallon kettle. I've been experiencing this phenomenon more and more as my capabilities have increased. While the rich are wasting their lives for want of focus, what am I doing with my life, and why was I drinking booze when I had nothing in particular to celebrate? Sure, I've paid my dues: I've slept under overpasses and I've been raided by the FBI, but am I really any better than these arrogant rich fuckers when I have a tricked-out laboratory full of potential projects, and I'm too overwhelmed by the possibilities to do anything but drink vodka?
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