Rendered Fat Content


Das Leben ist schön: sculpture by "Leonardo Rossi", a fake name often used for plagiarized bronzes
" … respectfully mimicking itself in mom jeans."

As a lifelong member of the once highly-touted Baby Boomer generation, I regret to report that I'm apparently no longer a member of any demographic any retailer cares about. That mantle has passed to those who came of age after us. I'm wise to shop for clothes in vintage consignment shops. Few people now write books with my sensibilities in mind. Food has swerved toward both the bio-deplorable and the chemically-enhanced. I swear someone wants caffeine added to everything so they can call the result an energy source, that and bull pee, which has seeped into more than just the terribly regrettable Red Bull®, more an addiction than a beverage. Members of the generation just behind me are struggling to kick habits nobody had even invented yet when I was in my prime. Finding halfway decent jeans that fit without looking like they were tailored for mom has become essentially impossible. A tee shirt without either a brand name or some meaningless meme printed all over it might no longer exist. Do they even make clothes in innocuous colors anymore?

We have become a
Pastiche society, one dedicated to emulating rather than creating, copying rather than originating. We might have always been on the prowl for role models to follow, but over the last century, with radio then television, then the internet and social media, we've been increasingly inundated with trolling exemplars inviting us to follow. Advertising has become much more and less than simple information, but increasingly malevolent manipulation, all for your own good, of course, or theirs'. Probably theirs'. The question of whom I might be has become more a query about whom I've chosen to become from the many, many prospective selves falling off the shelves surrounding me. Everything's framed as somehow a lifestyle choice, each purchase proposed as an opportunity to further flesh out a chosen identity. It's no longer who I am, but with whom I identify, the very notion of an isolated and independent 'I', gone the way of the gooney bird. "I" represents a plural presence, one for which there's only essence, never substance.

Those of us who fancy ourselves immune to this might be its greater victims. Those who can seamlessly slide between identities might gain the superior experience, for they don't seem to see the fundamental contradictions inherent in becoming someone else or attempting to. No long, dark nights of the soul spent searching for meaning if you're willing to accept another's authorship as your own. No seeking uniqueness beyond the obsequious self. Never a need to ever wonder after your worth. One can now be anything they choose except for nuanced. This hardly seems like advancement.

Evolution works in mysterious ways. It does not necessarily produce continuous improvement. For that, we'd need to follow the continuous improvement god, a small one, along with those who worship within that cult. I figure that they're well-intentioned if self-destructive, seeking to live ever-more productive lives. That aspiration might be worth fooling yourself to achieve. That and forty dollars, though, will not buy you a pair of jeans you can wear anonymously, for everybody seems to want to make their jeans stand out in any crowd with prominent labels useful when trying to identify the corpse. The body, once filled with potential, became the sum total of forced choices, finally cornered in an identity materially misrepresenting any he might have mustered on his own. He was a victim of his narrowing attention span. The Age of Aquarius evolved into another Antiquarian Age respectfully mimicking itself in mom jeans.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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