Thursday, May 22, 2014

Supplicants, Mendicants, Miscreants,and Aspirants

Hello, world. It's been a while, I know. My Muse seems to have abandoned me once again. She does this without warning.

Fortunately, a Bloomberg News anchor pissed me off today, making my Muse raise her moribund head. Reporter Julie Hyman was giving a rundown on Target stores, chittering the usual chatter masked as news these people have become so adept at doing, when anchor Alix Wagner chirped, "I actually bought some furniture at Target!"

No! You didn't really, did you?

She went on to say how it really gave a different "look." Which is to say, I suppose, that no one really ever sits on any of it. I guess you're supposed to just look at it.

Call it the Normcore revolution. Throw on your JC Penney hoodie, pick up a six pack of Bud Light in your Leaf, head over to Alix's upper East Side flat and marvel at her new furniture, and then meet for cocktails and a $600 meal at the locavore farm-to-table joint overlooking the river.
Hipppity doo-dah

Am I guilty of venous envy? Not really. No, really.

All my life, I've known rich people (I kind of was one for a time) and never felt they were much different than anyone else, the apocryphal Hemingway-Fitzgerald exchange notwithstanding. I include both types of rich folk, here: Those who actually earned their money, and those who got it the old-fashioned way by inheriting it. Was I ever resentful of their privilege? Nope. I never thought much about it too much, other than to believe that juice should count for something and having some would be fun.

I pretty much suspect that most others feel as I and don't harbor resentment to the uber-buxup folk. They have the same hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions, after all, so at times, we imagine that any one of us could join their ranks. And really, in the backs of our minds, while we envision and envy the comfort and freedom enjoyed by those whose heels are well, we are also in the poet Edward Arlington Robinson's camp with his famous Richard Cory:

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked; 
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
'Good-morning,' and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich - yes, richer than a king -
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread; 
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,

Went home and put a bullet through his head. 

Oh, those guys!

At some point in the last few years, something changed. It use to be, it seems to me, everybody; now it's a handful of plutocrats and everybody else.
Gluten free and sustainably raised?

And it's not just a plutocracy of money and power, nor of morality and cool as well. It's a plutocracy of being, as though a tenth of a tenth of a percent are Plato's Guardians, the philosopher-kings, and the rest of us are, well, the rest of us, the supplicants and mendicants and miscreants and aspirants who bought into the whole pitch, put it on our credit cards, and have to pay the bill with everything from freelance work to retirement accounts. We're the ones living from day to day pissed off over shitty television and internet service, furnaces that have to last a while longer, bags of student loan debt bound with degrees no one cares about, health needs subordinate to the utility bill, old cars coughing along on their wheeze of denied recalls, and so on.

But still. We don't rage, rage the lying of the Guardians. We recognize, perhaps exclusively, that life needn't be a zero-sum game and that no matter who has what, it's not what you have, it's what you are that counts.

So drumroll, please as the Philosopher Kings try to co-opt our epiphany and get on with their manufactured presence and pre-recorded conversations, flip-flopping their way down bar and boutiqued streets to buy furniture at Target with a tad of envy concealed in their wallets and feeling better once they've gentrified at the Normcore temple.

And the rest of us?

On the whole, having a good time, actually.