Retort to Gen Y, story by John Winn
I want to begin by saying that this article is in no way disputing John Wi article “Racing to the bottom”. It’s merely a different perspective from a son of a father raised in the Depression Era. A different slant stimulated by John’s article.
Baking a cake:
To bake a cake correctly means that you must find the best recipe, gather all the best ingredients, mix them together, and bake it for a specific time and at a specific temperature. Naturally this is a metaphorical response to the article by John Winn titled “Racing to the bottom”. Although I agree with his description of the 2008 economical collapse as well as the collapse of Gen-Y dreams and the loss of their possible profits that John mentions, I think the biggest and brightest points for the Gen-Y writers has been left undiscovered and unmentioned by this article. So with the stomping of my finger tips against my 1987 whiz-bang model keyboard let me regale you with some thoughts swirling in this old fuzzy head of mine. I was born in nineteen hundred and forty nine, which scares the hell out of me just saying it, let alone trying to remember all that has happened on this amazing one way trip. When looking back thru the history of this time you will find it was and still is, the richest and most productive time in the history of our country. This is where we began our climb out of a deep depression with 25% unemployment and into history as the number one superpower in the world. Soup lines were the rock concert of the day. Then came a miracle, everyone began discovering a little known devise called credit. If you had a job and could dream of it, then it was yours. New cars, art deco furniture and fat chrome grill automobiles. Before long the buying of these products and Roosevelt’s public works program stimulated the nation into a preconceived wealth. Additionally this time period inspired some of the greatest writers who wrote some of our favorite literature (i.e.) Dylan Thomas, Robert Frost, T.S. Elliot and many others; an awful lot of these writers were raised in the depression era and were prior to the economical boom. In fact when you open a book of great American Poets of this era you find one of two amazing facts, either the poets in question were born with a silver spoon in their mouth, or they were dirt poor. In John’s article he mentions the words aspiring writers having to put their dreams on the back burner. But I believe every writer is aspiring to become something, but aspiring means not there yet, it embodies the term hard work and low times that requires you to climb out of where you are. No one gets to the top without a ladder, without aspiring; it’s just another word for life’s apprenticeship.
The point of this being that the economics of a nation will never slowdown or stop the crème from rising to the top. In fact I would like to argue the contrary point that the poorer we become economically the richer our writing becomes. The greater the desire to rise above what society has made of you. Berlin at present is where you will find some of the greatest poets and writers on the planet due to the deep depressed world that has surrounded them in the past couple decades. The potential for becoming great there has spread to the point it is now a hot bed for expatriates who want to suck up some of the depression enabling their writing to find freedom which is ironic. While being poor may not be fun and may not get you the job you have hoped for, it presents one self with the recipe required for the writers palette, the ingredients (behind in rent, food rationing, love starvation etc.) the temperature (the soul catching fire in grief and disgust) and time (hard times and depression) these things are the classroom requirements of the world greatest future writers. To become a really good successful writer sometimes it’s the suffering that fires the soul of a writer into a frenzy that in turn bakes the very best cakes we’ve ever eaten. Think of it like this, if all you eat is bland then you taste some Cajun food, well hells bell fire.
Most successful writers born under the tyranny of poverty also become miserly with money, and you can imagine why that is. In Dylan Thomas case for instance, although not deprived by any means, he found that the deeper he submerged himself into the bottom of a good stiff liquid of depression, his artistry began to flourish. A drunk who fell under the spell of self pity found salvation reserved solely for a writer’s depressed soul. Gen-Y should take advantage of their wonderful misfortune, gather themselves in the back of the black closet of economics and drown themselves in deep self pitying caverns. Forget about fame and fortune, and just write with hate, or hope. Fame is rarely what the infamous believe it to be. And fortune, well it’s so time consuming taking care of all your wealth as so no one else gets their hands on it, that it can also cause you to drift away from what’s truly important, who you really are inside, “A Writer”. So if fame and fortune is not available to you, I say so what? Utilize this “missed-fortune” and instead plant the seeds in the lowly dirt of your generation’s low tide times. You will gain a future and find your way into history just as Robert Frost did; Edgar Allen Poe did, as T.S. did, as well as all the other great poets who nearly starved to death on a daily basis. Look at them now that they’re gone to a place where coin cannot buy favor, but where literature enriched their poverty lives. Richer or poorer, famous or unknown, seize these years of yours, plow the fields, plant the seeds and let your crops grow higher than any income or economy. Find fame and fortune within your words, for yourself, for your soul, and most of all for those skinny underfed hungry readers who just love the taste of your good baked cake. Why a writer would judge their success on a gage made by society is well beyond my grasp. The whole idea of being a writer is to see things differently, peripheral perception. A king is a king weather wealthy or not.
As someone who has been lucky enough to have lost a million, and later to lose even more, I found that the dim candle light of wealth blown out and replaced with a much richer deeper glow of poverty and eventually settling into the middle class, has honestly been a blessing. Fame along the way presented itself to me of whom I quickly removed myself from becoming the display manikin for the public to pick and pluck at. “Unless as they say, you’ve walked a mile in these shoes, you can’t imagine the immense fortune handed to you by poverty”. A single seed catches the storm and stirs into a garden. Flowers bloom everywhere, what amazement is not to be seen here? Don’t focus on the storm but focus on the results from that storm. To understand the real facts of poverty and even middle class, it is to know that your dreams of fortune and fame would never turn out the same as your daydreams present themselves. Both fortune and fame are already buried deep in your heart and soul, if you believe you’re rich, then for Gods sakes you are, and fame, well fame is just something else you can blame for your lack of happiness on. Embrace your financial embarrassment and use it for the milk in your cake. Try writing a letter to a high profile individual with fame and money. Ask them where they want to live. In most cases they want to live in New Your City or some rural place without TV’s. Why? Ironically enough it’s so they can go out in public and be among the normal everyday working class and poorer class residents that live from day to day. Souls who appreciate so little as so much and dream of that life the rich are trying to get away from. What does it say about fortune and fame when a movie star works sixteen hour a day and for vacation dreams of joining Joe Average in their streets of play?
No money, no job, just cake, race to the top of the hill. And I will pray that misfortune finds you all alone there, and in love with all that sweet, sweet beauty you baked. Good luck baking your cake.