Conversation: Iraq, Thoughtful Young Men

You don't write poorly. If you want to feel bad
about your writing, try writing a graduate paper
in a literature department. My first paper got
grilled like a mofo, and I was a bit devastated.
But probably no more affected than you thoughtful
young men were down in Cancun during Invasion '03.
I was not a rabid anti-war person by any means.
The narratives about Saddam got me: his son
brutalizing women with impunity, political
dissidents forced insane inside rooms painted red
floor to ceiling, the gassing of 5,000 Kurds. It
turns out, though, that the man was more
interested in writing novels. Now that's
evil-genius crazy. But it seemed that his
motivation was the sort of "What is to be done?"
thinking a la Lenin, as opposed to Hitler or Stalin.
One thing I think is funny about NYC is that the
rest of New York and New Jersey dislikes the
place, from what I gather. A cultural center, no
doubt, though.
I did vote for Kerry, and feel the need to decry
the way that the marketing industry moves politics
further and further away from the discussion of
actual issues. I think that that is a sign of our
post-industrial service economy. Lots of people
are poor, many are in debt, like my wife, yet
there is a euphoric sense in this country that
things will turn out great, that the immediate
economic interest is not important. A deprecation
of the self for the benefit of the collective.
This occurs essentially in an imaginative space,
where Saddam and Osama are still in cahoots, where
the actor playing tough seems worth more than
someone that can make the right decision.
Nonetheless, the US trade deficit, stagnant wages,
the upcoming comeuppance of Social Security, and
the movment on the right to remake passive income
untaxable points to the inevitable--securing what
we've got because our elan is disappearing. Iraq
is a last gasp. We are the Greeks refusing to
leave Asia Minor, Napoleon and Hitler going into
Russian without secure supply lines. Not that the
flagging spirit of America as we know it is a bad
thing, but I just get the sense that there's going
to be a lot of whining about how our country
slowly declined when we're old.
So whether one's on the left or the right, I hope
we can vote for the pragmatists.


You'll excuse me, I've just had a bottle of
shiraz. I think people like Dylan get too much
credit for making youth want to move to NYC. I've
wanted to move there since seventh grade,
motivated far more by Miles Davis or (insert jazz
legend name here) than Dylan or Cohen. NYC is an
ideal because it houses so much talent. From the
arts to business, from high-minded philosophy to
the day-to-day struggle to survive, NYC is where
it's at. My brother reminds me of the clich from
time to time, but if you can make it there, you
can make it anywhere.

As for Iraq, I was one of those who were
supportive of the idea of toppling Saddam in the
hopes of changing the region. I feel awfully
naive now. Our soldiers over there are heroes,
but they are also increasingly dead. On a pros
and cons list it's difficult to have the inanimate
ideal as the pro and have a stack of physical
bodies as a con and still come out deciding pro.
A little pragmatism wouldnt have hurt me, or
especially, the administration. Call me a wounded
Republican who voted Kerry.

If I could write a book about any subject, it
would be the guilt and helplessness I felt in
Cancun, Spring Break 2003, knowing that while we
were being fed tequila, some of my high school
classmates were killing other human beings. I
don't intend to make myself sound hero-istic, but
except for David Rosmann and I, nobody else from
our age group even knew a war had broken out, let
alone cared. Ive always thought that spoke
volumes about the privileged, like most college
students are. Maybe thats why I like Tom Wolfe,
who knows.


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