Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Halcyon Days

The most recent instalment of R.U. Sirius's podcast (#67) consists of an interview with the writer and the filmmaker behind American Hardcore, a book and a movie about the US hardcore punk scene in the early 80s. (Say what? No, me neither.) I found myself becoming really impatient with these guys as I listened, because the whole thing is so obviously one big over-earnest nostalgia trip. They acknowledge that the musical scene they're covering is almost entirely forgotten and wasn't respected at the time either, but still they want to make it out to have been something enormously significant and special. And of course it was -- to them. They were teens at the time and their involvement in the hardcore scene shaped them.

And this got me thinking about where my own nostalgia lies. I guess I'm about half a decade younger than the American Hardcore guys: I was a teen from 1985 to 1992. Do I feel nostalgic about this period? Would I like to return to that time and be who I was then? Certainly not. That's the good thing about being a highschool nerd. We bloom late.

So I started to think about when my life "peaked" if it wasn't in my teens. When was the period in my life when I was coolest, most with it, most admired by all and sundry? And it turns out it wasn't my twenties either. I wouldn't want to go back there: spent most of that decade being a doctoral student, largely professionally miserable because my department sucked, not really being whom I wanted to be but working to become that person. The person I am now, actually.

I'm in my mid-thirties now, I feel I'm getting quite a lot of professional recognition, and the only thing in my life I can think of that was somewhat better fifteen years ago is that back then I still had enough hair on top of my head that I wouldn't have looked ridiculous if I'd let it grow long. Not that it ever occured to me to try it at the time. Besides, it started falling out when I was only 22. I blame the testosterone.

So I guess what I'm trying to say here is basically that I'm one smug bastard who's pretty happy with himself. Maybe today is the time I'll look back upon with nostalgia when I'm 40, instead of dreaming of my teens like the American Hardcore guys. But it hardly seems likely given that it's only a bit more than five years until I'm 40.

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