Elements of Zeitgeist: Why Shallow is Meaningful

Recently I touched base with a friend of mine from college I had not talked to in more than two years. The last time we saw each other was ages ago, when I was someone else completely, in my snug apartment in Alphabet City. It was early in the morning--a sad, listless, meaningless morning--and my frustration and impatience erupted in an explosive and derisive verbal attack that punctuated what was perhaps the beginning of the most dramatic falling out I've had with a good friend. I can't remember if I threw him out or if he stormed out, but I can remember the pungent spiritual decay I felt take over me after. I was on a slippery slope and had already decided to take no prisoners and scorch all earth.

Anyway, those were different times. Today I appreciate friendship, and thanks to social media tools, we were able to smooth out the past and bury the hatchet. And as we slowly got up to speed through various wall posts and private messages, I realized that our affinity towards media and pop culture binds us tighter than I would have ever expected. The line that did me in: "Who else in your life can talk about Paris Hilton and Kierkegaard in the same breath?" he pointed out. And he's right. And then the slam dunk: "I'll be sure to fax Lou Dobbs your riot grrl piece." I always found his insights funky yet on point, and both incredibly funny and piercingly honest. It was bubblegum with razorblades in it.

Which brings me back to the point I'm trying to make. Levity and frivolity are powerful tools--they can be coping mechanisms, a way to break the ice perhaps--but it takes a skilled connoisseur to use superficiality to convey something truly meaningful. Back in college, my life was as insipid as Paris Hilton and as hard to swallow as Kierkegaard. Today, it's a whole other story. I enjoy substance and can throw down with even the most uppity intellectual. However, I am most comfortable watching music videos nominated to this year's VMA's on YouTube or catching the latest summer blockbuster. Because today, sometimes a pop song is more telling and has more relevancy to me than say, Dickens. Whether loaded with meaning or as breezy as air, it's the sign of the times. And that's super exciting to me.


Angelique said...

"People nowadays are so absolutely superficial that they don't understand the philosophy of the superficial. By the way, Gerald, you should learn how to tie your tie better. Sentiment is all very well for the button-hole. But the essential thing for a necktie is style. A well-tied tie is the first serious step in life." OW

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