Shelf life: Our collection and the passage of time

Like many others, I enjoyed”World’s ugliest person, ”A story about a young girl’s coming of age is also a unique romantic comedy. But the reason I can’t stop thinking about this movie (which I can’t discuss further without risking spoiling, so be warned) has to do with its status as a cri de coeur. relationship between Gen X.

The entire cry – appropriately combined with self-mockery, self-pity, and very specific pop-culture references – comes in a single devastating scene near the end of the film. Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie), a director-like graphic novelist in his late 40s, is dying of pancreatic cancer. Julie (Renate Reinsve), the main character of the film, who had previously broken his heart, visits him in the hospital. She saw him playing the angry air drum when “Back to Dungaree HighOf the deadly Norwegian punk band Turbonegro boomed in his headphones.

“It’s a ride just to survive,” the singer howls, and Aksel is preoccupied with issues of life, death, and pop culture. He told Julie that he spends most of his time listening to familiar music and revisiting his favorite movies, including “The Godfather,” “Dog Day Afternoon,” and David Lynch movies. “The world I knew is gone,” he lamented.

What is that world? It’s “all about going to the stores.”

That description is not intended to trivialize his youthful pastimes and passions, but rather to convey their magic and meaning to a generation of millennials who have had a buying experience. Basic shopping is usually clicking an icon rather than scrolling through crates. Aksel went on to explain the record void, comics and videos he used to frequent.

The stops on his pilgrimage may be exclusive to Oslo, but they have stops in every city. Julie, who works in a bookstore and writes a lot, has barely forgotten the utility and charm of physical media. But she doesn’t quite understand the intense emotion — longing, meaning, sense of identity — that Aksel associates with memories of a previous style of consumption. This is not necessarily a difference in taste or texture. It’s more of a contrasting relationship with the material aspects of culture, another way of living in the world of things, and it defines the generational distinction between them.

I know which side I’m on. I don’t think of myself as a shopper, but the truth is that in my time on this earth I could rarely walk past a book or record store without entering or leaving empty-handed. I surrounded myself with things, the most precious things that were scratched, scribbled, lent or given away. As Aksel puts it, “I spent my life doing it—collecting all that,” but not for the money or even its sentimental value. Those objects start out as receptacles of meaning and taste, but their acquisition becomes a sort of compulsion, depriving it of its original passion. “I kept doing it when it no longer gave me strong emotions,” reflected Aksel. “Now all I have left: memories of useless things.”

I’m not completely identified with Aksel. He’s kinder, cooler (it took me some Googles to identify that Turbonegro song), a few years younger, and looks a lot better than me. But it wasn’t enough for me, as everyone does nowadays, that watching him made me feel like I was being seen. The effect was deeper, more shocking, more embarrassing, as if Trier had emptied a laundry bag full of t-shirts from my favorite classical band on Aksel’s hospital bed for the world to see. crazy movie lover. Watched? I felt smelly.

This is not all about me. What Aksel tells Julie affirms that he is a particularly empathetic and self-aware type of person who is recognizable, not always liked: not exactly a fan, but rather a fan. is a very consistent hybrid of connoisseur, collector and critic. You might know a version of this guy from Nick Hornby’s novels (or their movie adaptations), specifically “High Fidelity” and “Juliet, Naked”. Or maybe from the movies by Kevin Smith, Noah Baumbach, Judd Apatow, and other Gen X auteurs. He could be your brother, your ex or your current lover, your best friend, or your long-lost best friend that you often keep in touch with on Facebook. Your father even. But then again, if you’re like me, the teen spirit you smell might be your own

In real life, this type of person is not always a guy. Popular culture often assumes as much and also assumes his chastity, which is partly a failure of the collective imagination, and partly due to whose cultural obsessions are taken as represent. Chuck Klostermanperhaps the famous white male cultural critic of his generation (maybe mine), somehow made this point unknowingly in his new book, “The Nineties” , when he implied that the release of Nirvana’s album “Nevermind” was more significant than a world historical event than the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In typical 90s fashion, the statement is defended with understanding and stuck with irony. Klosterman understands that there were a lot of people in the ’90s – and not just in Berlin – who never cared much for “Nevermind”. The compelling appeal and uncompromising value of his book come from the same source, that is his extravagant, unrepentant commitment to generalizing from his own experience. “The Nineties,” with the modest, generic subtitle of “One Book,” is not history or memoir, but uses each genre as an alibi for the genre’s shortcomings. that. Of course, this is just one guy’s recollection of things he’s seen, thought of, heard, and bought in the last decade of the 20th century. But it’s also periodically asserted by Klosterman, a an account of what the decade really was like, a catalog of what was important at the time and in hindsight. You might argue with the second edition – how can you write the cultural history of 1990s America without so many index entries for “Angels in America”? – but not so much with the first one. The meaning of the 90s is open to debate. Decade feels like, maybe less.

This is exactly what makes Klosterman, born in 1972, a jovial, orthodox American in contrast to Aksel’s gloomy, alternative-minded Nordic intellectual. Both were men of the 90s, driven to explain something that seemed in danger of being forgotten or misunderstood to those who weren’t there. To a certain extent, it resembles something, but not quite what one thinks. Klosterman seeks to shed light on the reality of a unique and important period; Aksel tries to share with Julie the sources of his own emotions. But the cultural reference point is the red herring. The underlying motive is the desire to capture and reverse the movement of time, to restore somewhat the enthusiasm and confusion of youth.

The things you loved when you were young can never make you young again. The reluctant acceptance of this fact is the source of nostalgia, a disorder that affects every modern generation in its own peculiar way. Members of Generation X grew up in the heavy, dignified shadow of the baby boom’s long adolescence, amid LP crates and paperback shelves to remind us of what we’ve missed. Just as children’s rebellions erupted against their decline and war-born parents determined their style and posture, so our impatience with children Explosions also set us in motion. But I’m not talking so much about a great historical story but about what Aksel might call the useless – the objects and gadgets that form the infrastructure of memory.

Every group has these. CDs in plastic jewelry boxes are not inherently more poetic than vinyl LPs in cardboard boxes. On the internet and in TV shows like “PEN15, ” Powerful millennial nostalgia blasts AOL chat rooms, Dance Dance Revolution, Tamagotchis and others that I was too old for the first time. Generation Z is sure to emerge shortly before that, even if their culturally specific pursuits don’t seem to be reflected in material objects.

And that is the nature of Klosterman’s relentless cataloging and Aksel’s lament for lost record stores. The digitization of culture – the abstraction of all that beautiful stuff into streams and algorithms – seems to many of us like a permanent loss. It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what kind of loss, because there are clearly benefits as well. In the past, Aksel might not have been able to watch it.”Dog day afternoon” over and over again. He may have had to wait until it showed up at a respawn house, or until the previous customer returned a single copy of the VHS to the video store. Now, he he can stream “Back to Dungaree High” live on a playlist with other of his favorite songs Klosterman can watch any episode of “Seinfeld” or “The Simpsons” any time he he wants.

And so am I, why isn’t this comforting? Why do I, like so many of my colleagues, mourn the passing of things that are not even dead? The The End, or at least movie viewership, has been proclaimed and denigrated (and in some cases glorified) with increasing intensity through the rise of streaming platforms and shrinking audiences. pandemic-supported theater visits. The danger is real, but that might just be to say that the technologies that consume culture are ever-changing, and the art forms that pass through them tend to mutate and perish in unpredictable cycles. prior to. People continue to read, watch, listen, browse, and seek not only distractions and diversions, but sources of meaning and connection. Young people tend to do so with a particular passion, sometimes as if their lives are at stake.

I understand that feeling. I remember that feeling. But overall, it might not have much to do with music, books, or movies. Aksel didn’t name Woody Allen among his favorites (although Allen’s influence on “The World’s Ugliest Man” is easy to spot), but he did paraphrase one of his famous quotes. by Allen. “I don’t want to continue my job,” Aksel said. “I want to live in my apartment.” With Julie, and with their books, records and DVDs. What makes all those objects useless is that they lack the power to make that happen, which is paradoxical why people like Aksel would collect them in the first place. As he puts it: “It’s not nostalgia. It is afraid of death. “Young people don’t understand this. They would.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/24/movies/worst-person-in-the-world-generation-x.html Shelf life: Our collection and the passage of time

Fry Electronics Team

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