I just watched the film on DVD, 16:9, about the hours surrounding the death of Kurt Cobain. It's a very powerful film, so brutally quiet that it makes me want to resign from life and lay down and die, never to speak a vulgar word again. The film's powerful element, I think, is in its refusal to give into any iota of nostalgia -- "nostalgize" -- "Kurt Cobain" as such. All I am left with, as viewer and, since before Cobain's death, Nirvana perma-convert -- all I'm left with is the magickal sense of What Makes an Artist. For my feeling is that Cobain is the kaleidoscope artistic figure of my generation; I say "kaleidoscope" because Cobain is not a "central" figure, instead his brilliance is seen most at the margins. And I love Dylan and Cohen, who both communicate the possible feelings and experiences of their generation(s). Yet they cannot fathom the existential pain of eternal resignation that Cobain limned; I believe I am part of the generation of the horror of nothing, as opposed to the horror of something. The abyss is more cruel, you see, than even the nuclear flash of world war. At least there's something, someone to react. In "America" from the '80s to today, we live on the cusp of either the promulgation of a Star Trek-like unified Earth or sure apocalypse. We are 150 years past the death of G-d, and men ask Him to consecrate torture. Where, exactly, are we to find purpose, direction, meaning? Sevice for a tainted nation? The materialistic ubiquity? Jihad? The service of family? Empathy for those that have passed?
The modern existential problem has not been solved, we can be sure. The spasms of confusion and hate of the Great War and WWII are mere preliminaries to a centuries-long process of finding meaning in a world where we control both life and death via technology. Forget the exceptions to this.
Well, one could argue: be present, do the task at hand, focus, mindfulness. This is for the saints, the few; as Freud says:
Devout believers are safeguarded in a high degree against the risk of certain neurotic illnesses; their acceptance of the universal neurosis spares them the task of constructing a personal one.
For the rest of us, we are left in the judgment of Freud:
I have found little that is "good" about human beings on the whole. In my experience most of them are trash, no matter whether they publicly subscribe to this or that ethical doctrine or to none at all. That is something that you cannot say aloud, or perhaps even think.
Bush recently hailed the reversal of one of Western Civilization's greatest achievements, the establishment of habeas corpus
, as well as the prohibition on torture, as a "win in the war on terror." Yeats tells us:
The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.
When Cobain died, he didn't die. We