Happy birthday to me…
Birthdays are a rather morbid curiosity, when you think about it. All that’s celebrated is said person not dying in the preceding 365 days. Seems to me like a holdover from simpler, bucolic (read: infectious) times, when reaching puberty was considered an outlier, statistically.
I’m 19 today, whoopdee doo. In my country, the significant ages are 16 (driving), 17 (R movies), 18 (tobacco, pornography, the draft, credit cards, legal engagement, or just about anything associated with adulthood), and 21 (alcohol and upper adulthood, such as the capacity to be a legal guardian). I’ve never been one for celebrating my birthday, particularly. In grade school, I would begin by telling people my birthday was January 26th, and by Novembre or so, I changed face and said “January 26th? I don’t know what you’re talking about. My birthday was back on October 8th….”
My “liberal arts” writing class really raises my blood pressure. We’re covering simple texts like Golding’s “Thinking as a Hobby” or LeGuin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas.” Nothing difficult, but my clasmates and my teacher never fail to astound me with their inability to grasp even the most basic of philosophical concepts. Fucking egalitarians. They don’t seem to understand the idea that humans are naturally hierarchical. The best part (when asked to describe our “perfect world”) was the pious pill who chimed in “I believe the perfect world is Heaven, like, I don’t know what it looks like, but we’ll all be there someday.” Gee, thanks, you dumb broad, for adding absolutely nothing to the discussion.
The “liberal arts” layer to this silly class means the teacher puts on this desperate danse macabre in front of the room, trying to goad us into having personal revelations by What-Ifing tired platitudes. These people are too deeply entrenched in their unwavering humanism to even debate prgamatism, nihilism, antitheism, or any of those naughty, “dark” ideologies.
In “…Omelas,” the It child is suffering in its broom closet, and upon that single suffering is heaped the ecstatic happiness of an entire metropolis. Everyone 12 or older must be conscious of this suffering. Why? Because these hierarchical humans must understand that they are high above this Its caste. For that reason and for that reason alone is the paradise maintained. Besides this single two-step hierarchy, there is no authority and no regulaton other than observed etiquette. LeGuin says that the happiness hinges upon the child’s suffering, so it can be inferred that the paradise is a direct consequence of (the population’s knowledge of) the child: it is not so fairy-tale as one might believe.
But they will never get it, these nitwits (Lord, why do I seem so bitter today?). And I will never be free of them.
Happy birthday to me…