Encomium for a Newly Married Couple

for Tim and Teresa Strandquist

1. Air, thick with heat in the midst of the drought. Steam does not rise from the earth baking. The intensity is lower; an inhaled dullness saturates campus. Couples and books are everywhere. The extremes of staring at texts for hours on end and using one’s significant other for as much physical contact as legally possible do not just coexist on a continuum. They are tied together: there’s nothing else to do.

Eros is not merely a reaction to boredom. It is tempting to think that is the current problem. Certainly there is an appetite for knowledge as well as other things. Studying to survive school, though, is not an “appetite for knowledge.” Nor is pairing up because everyone else seems to have someone. The heat is disorder, from fear. These young people want to go somewhere in life. They’re imitating what they see others do regarding things they were told are important. And right now, as well-meaning as they are, as much as they’re actually learning, as much as they’re even loving – they’re going through the motions unwittingly.

2. If you ask me what the fundamental problem of American political life is, you’ll probably hear me say “There’s no sense of what is public.” Nearly everything is put in terms of a private good nowadays. Things like honor and decency do not matter as much as having a “brand.” Our individual success matters more than our behavior, absolutely more than the content of our minds. “The Situation” and his abdominal muscles command far more attention than this blog ever will. Even things that are good for all of us are defined in terms of personal interest: “Army of One” was no accident.

It should not surprise us, then, if young people are fearful and acquisitive anywhere. They’re defensive about what is theirs and not really in the mood for asking questions about what is appropriate or good. This is how they’ve been conditioned; the older generations, for all their virtues, aren’t terribly savvy about what needs to change. We could very easily lose a generation of thoughtful, imaginative, determined young people because we’re overloading them with our paranoia. A sense of entitlement pervades American life more deeply than Left or Right could ever admit.

3. To know a young couple dedicated to serving others while making a life for themselves is an enormous privilege. That the couple in question isn’t scared of things like poetry, crafting, hospitality, sharing their knowledge and experience, and exploring the outdoors just amazes me. I do know couples where fear of the future, even fear of other people, “unite” the two. I know couples lost in their fantasies, ones I hope will never discover just how deluded they are. The real work of American life is true unity. You two work for it without a second’s thought. You both seem to know we are our gift to each other, that we are the public good itself.

6 Comments

  1. Individualism has been preached and practiced for many years in America. It seems like our choice along with the combination of brands that we as individuals embrace are intended to represent who we are.

    Unfortunately, such vague representations simply lead to stereotyping.

    We are making a huge mistake by assuming that conversations with others could be avoided simply by categorizing them based on their choice of brands.

    I think we are not connecting with others on a deeper level. We’re not sharing our personal emotions and thoughts, instead we share trends via twitter and facebook.

    I also believe that we must put more effort into our romantic relationships. At the end of the day, I dream of that communal feeling/setting that you see in small simple villages (past and present).

  2. News that matters! the only news:

    http://www.tmz.com/2011/09/15/spongebob-squarepants-impersonator-fight-video-hollywood-blvd-cops-police-lapd/

    http://www.tmz.com/2011/09/14/chris-mcalister-baltimore-ravens-broke-no-money-cash-nfl-child-support-super-bowl-ex-wive-baby-mama-marlene-parents-house-home-football/

    1. Before the president’s big speech on the unemployment crisis, delivered to a joint session of Congress, the vice president and House Speaker John A. Boehner were overheard discussing what?

    A. Hair plugs

    B. Tanning salons

    C. Golf scores

    D. The persistent suffering of the working poor

    2. Democrats last week were excited about President Obama’s doing something he’s struggled with before. What?

    A. Persuading all the Congressional Democrats to do the wave

    B. Fitting his entire fist in his mouth

    C. Presenting a bill with a catchy name

    D. Quitting smoking

    3. A San Francisco resident’s home was raided and searched, as he was harshly questioned by agents working for whom?

    A. The United Nations

    B. Whole Foods Market

    C. Apple

    D. Spectre

    4. A U.C.L.A. student, Chris Jeon, wanted to do something memorable the summer before his senior year of college. What did he do?

    A. Memorized every episode of “Jersey Shore”

    B. Staked out bars every night until he found a prototype for the new iPhone 5

    C. Joined the rebels in Libya

    D. Applied for the last remaining job in the United States

    Answers

    1. (C) Golf scores. Live mikes caught the speaker complaining about a recent round to a sympathetic vice president. Mr. Boehner: “Seven birdies, five bogies!” Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.: “You’re kidding.” Sadly, neither of them was.

    2. (C) On Thursday, the president presented “The American Jobs Act.” This straightforward, simple name was a compromise between the president’s idea, “The Infrastructure and Labor Actualization Initiative Act of 2011,” and the vice president’s suggestion, “Money Good.”

    3. (C) The “Apple Investigators,” escorted by armed San Francisco police officers, were searching for a lost iPhone prototype. Apple devotees were shocked to find out that Apple offered home invasions, and started lining up early outside the Apple stores to order one.

    4. (C) Mr. Jeon, who will be returning to U.C.L.A. for his senior year, says, “I told my friends a sick vacation would be to come here and fight with the rebels.” He says it’ll all be worth it if the Libyan people are free and if he can get internship credit.

  3. To address something that you mentioned in your second point, I say that, in the US, there’s very little of what’s known as “bad press” left. Notoriety and fame seem to be one and the same. As long as you can capture the public’s attention, it doesn’t matter much how you the individual accomplish it…

  4. I am going to send this article straight to my printer for offline reading. I skimmed through it and your points seem to make a lot of sense, thanks for sharing your thoughts, will post here again after reading through the article proper!

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