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30) Comfort In Fearful Things

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.  – H. P. Lovecraft

I was born in 1974, the same year that Stephen King’s first book, Carrie was published and less than a year after the The Exorcist was released. It scared the crap out of my 11-year-old brother and perhaps incidentally propelled his spiritual life, transforming him into a God-fearing conservative Christian. The film broke box office records with millions of people standing in long lines. Many audience members passed out, up-chucked, and left the theater because the subject matter and raw graphics was too horrific to watch. I discovered the film on The Movie Channel, long after my brother left for college when I was 10-years-old. My parents never thought to dismantle the cable outlet…

I became my own parental control and watched anything that was dark, scary, or controversial. By the age of 10, I sampled a glut of R-rated horror films before I set eyes on The Exorcist. My earliest recollection was Blood Beach (an exquisitely dumb B film), then A Nightmare on Elm Street, Cujo, Halloween, Jaws, and Friday The Thirteenth (just in time for the coming of age of the 13th generation, AKA Gen-X). Rather than becoming desensitized from watching movies that most parents would never let their children watch today, it opened up my mind and hunger for knowledge.

Blood Beach Movie Poster

Although, I could not articulate it as a child, I was fascinated by anything that was physically unfamiliar, strange, unexplainable, and ultimately, anything that would horrify my mother or enrage my father. It wasn’t that I was rebelling from their attitudes. I was curious of why certain ideas provoked intense emotions within adults. I wanted to understand their reactions. At a very young age, I had a sense that the world was full of hidden truths behind closed doors, the back of dusty closets, underneath crawl spaces, the bottom of my mother’s purse and amongst the coins in my father’s pocket.

At night, I was afraid to run to my parents’ bedroom; it was too far away on the opposite side of the house. My dad built it that way. To get there, I had to run past a long hallway of tall closets, and my old bedroom where Mom reScary Treead her Bible every morning and night, and the bathroom, turn the corner past the fireplace, the entry way, the living room and kitchen, and finally, the dark ominous opening of my parents’ bedroom.

I learned how to be still, and breath, and conquer my fear of being alone. I grew to love the stillness of night, the rhythm of the moon, and things that moved in the darkness. My imagination was more colorful than reality and I learned to keep my eyes and ears open without fear of the vampire underneath my bed with his red glowing cape, or the Bogeyman outside my window that might pop his grizzly head up, or the wind quivering the finger-like branches of the tall twin pine trees against the full moon’s light.

I watched everything that was on television, if it peaked my interest. I grew to understand that basic fear was a human impulse resulting from a lack of knowledge in that, which is feared. Real fear was primal, the kind that connected to your gut. I learned the differences and the middle ground in between.

As a young adult, my experiences were haphazard, sometimes pushing the edge of what was good for me, but knowing when to lay low or get the hell-out-of-dodge. Most of my real fear in these situations was in direct response to mortal human encounters: relationships gone bad, deceptive adults, and unpredictable human behavior. I learned how to trust myself: my senses, my impulses, and my intuition. In this way, I have always felt unique in my experiences, generationally and spiritually.

I am less afraid of Bigfoot, Extraterrestrials, Chupacabra, UFOs, and Demon Possession, and more afraid of men with guns, blatant sexual urges, deranged agendas, entitled egos, reinforced by political alliances.

I am less afraid of ghosts, haunted places, werewolves, and vampires, and more afraid of political instability, nuclear weapons, social chaos, and natural disasters.

Born and raised in San Bernardino, California, cult capital of the nation and one of the most geologically dynamic places on earth, I was less afraid of the devil and creeping things and more afraid of large rickety building structures and mass gatherings of people. My Atheist/Agnostic father and Seventh-Day-Adventist mother provided a rich contrast of dispassionate mechanical thought vs. constrained fundamental belief for my inquisitive young mind to ponder; a perfect environment for analyzing contrasting viewpoints playing out in a post-Nixon world. It is difficult to imagine the 1970s without the horrors of the time as it metastasized into classic American Horror films on cable TV.

When I first saw The Exorcist, I had absorbed large amounts of data through television, reading National Geographic magazines and my mother’s SDA literature and the KJV Bible (I think I was halfway through reading the begets of Chronicles, because my mother insisted we read the Word of God from cover to cover – enough to make one want to barf up green soup). Even though the movie was scary, I couldn’t help but feel a hidden hand moving over the whole thing to increase Church membership and tithe. I began to doubt my mother’s religious ideas early, before I was a teenager. I wanted to believe what she did because I dearly loved her and saw that she desperately wanted to transcend all that was bad, but she couldn’t provide answers that were concrete enough for me to accept them.

The Exorcist proved how powerful religion is over the minds of those too afraid to question things they do not understand. I have no doubt that there are evil ‘things’ in this world. But those ‘things’ tend to be human generated through calculated motivations. True knowledge saturates perceived fear. It provides a clear path for humanity to evolve beyond its own planned obsolescence. I take comfort in fearful things and seeking knowledge to understand them.

SUPPLEMENTS:

The American Nightmare: A Documentary
Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown Documentary
Fascinating Facts About The Exorcist
The Movie Channel Commercials – 1980s

 


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Solo GenX Warriors ™ | Disclaimer

12) Facts About Generation X

Gen X is the first generation for whom the global reach of technology began to allow a significant number of individuals to share experiences across national boundaries in many (but by no means all) parts of the world.
Tammy Erickson, Harvard Businesss Review

AKA
Blank, Lost, MTV, Latch Key, Baby Bust, Slacker, Unknown, Punk

AGE
Born between 1965-1981, Generation X is also referenced between 1961-1981, culturally as well as demographically.

NUMBER
Generation X are smaller in numbers – 61 million, compared with 81 million Post-World War II baby boomers and 85 million Millennials. These numbers reflect the U.S. Census Bureau population in 2010.

PARENTS
The majority of Generation X was born of the Silent Generation born between 1925-1945.

LATCH KEY KIDS
This generation was referred to as the first latch key kids. Unlike other generations, Often, Gen X children were home alone after school as both parents were working.

VOLUNTEERS
Gen X is the most philanthropic and volunteer-driven, close to 30% each year between 2009-2011 compared with other generations according to the Corporation for National and Community Services.

BIRTH CONTROL
Gen X is the first generation born and raised during the introduction of the birth control pill and the legalization of abortion.

INDEPENDENT
Due to high divorce rates of the parent’s of Generation X and being home alone, Generation X has adapted a level of independence that sets them apart from other generations.

This generation has watched more TV and as a result has probably witnessed more violence and murders than any generation in history. In addition, X’ers’ gloomy view of the world has been shaped by such numerous negative events as the Persian Gulf War, escalating crime, riots, AIDS, the nuclear threat, and pollution.
International City-County Management Association, MSU

Teens Less Healthy Than Parents

“Never before has one generation of American teenagers been less healthy, less cared for, or less prepared for life than their parents were at the same age.”
– National Commission, The Spokesman Review

 

 

Some resent the baby boomers in a big way. They feel that the boomers spent too much time partying and messing up the world that X’ers have inherited. Now, the X’ers have to fix it, and they see the boomers as standing in their way. This view has made them highly cynical. – International City-County Management Association, MSU

SOURCES
Wikipedia – Generation X
Catalyst – Workplace Generations


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03) Gen-X: The Birth of a Label

The Gen-X label, as we know it today, is the primary definition for those born roughly between 1961 and 1983. As these odd creatures grew up in a swirling jumble of punk, pollution and porno, the world was becoming anything but child friendly. These kids were already cynical adults by age 7 and left on their own to figure things out for themselves, often taking longer to get a handle on life, family and career. So, where exactly did this mysterious label come from?

If you look at the occurrences of the Gen-X label over the last 61 years, one can easily point to three specific years that stand out in our collective conscious: 1953, 1964 and 1991. After 1991, the label evolved into a core marketing term loathed by frustrated advertisers struggling to get Gen-X consumers to try new products (an attribute I personally admire).

Some descriptions (and birth years) of GenX overlap with what I call Generation Me [AKA Millenials], but it’s clear that the GenX description is incomplete and often misguided. – Jean M. Twenge, Ph.D., author of Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled – and More Miserable Than Ever Before.


 X – Original

We named this unknown generation, The Generation X, and even in our first enthusiasm we realised that we had something far bigger than our talents and pockets could cope with. – Robert Capa, Magnum Photographer

Robert Capa, famous war photographer and founder of the label, Generation X. [Image via Wikipedia]

Most historians agree that the first appearance of the term “Generation X” was verbalized in 1953, by war photographer Robert Capa, almost a decade before the actual folks were born and officially christened as Generation X. Capa’s “Generation X” described young people with a fatalistic view of the future. The label read like an aimless particle in space or an unknown variable in an algebraic expression. If one cannot understand it, X is a placeholder until further study can manifest a clearer definition.

In a Huffington Post article, Christine Henseler dissects the GenX label origins:

Most people think that it was born in 1991 when Canadian writer and visual artist, Douglas Coupland, published the popular book Generation X: Tales of An Accelerated Culture. That’s not the case. In fact, it all began much earlier, in 1953 when, as Dr. John Ulrich eloquently details in GenXegesis, “The Queen’s Generation: Young People in a Changing World” was published in the Picture Post in the United Kingdom. This piece was later published as a three-part series titled “Youth and the World” in the United States’ magazine called Holiday.


X – 2.0

In 1964, the first printing of Generation X by Hamblett and Deverson, was published in an attempt to capture the voices of the nation’s youth at the twilight of Beatlemania. The sentiments taken from the Mod subculture and other rock youth groups in the UK revealed a cross-section of kids with a palpable discontent for their parents, civic and political institutions, and a disillusioned outlook on the future.

Generation X by Jane Deverson and Charles Hamblett • Courtesy of Wikipedia

Generation X by Jane Deverson and Charles Hamblett • [Image via Wikipedia]

The quotes below were taken from an article posted on February 28, 2014, The Original Generation X, on BBC.com.

“Marriage is the only thing that really scares me…”

“Religion is for old people who have given up living…”

“I’d prefer to do something for the good of humanity…”

“You want to hit back at all the old geezers who tell us what to do…”

60s Mod Culture

In 1964 the paperback Generation X hit the bookstands. Its candid interviews with teenagers still make fascinating reading 50 years on, says Alan Dein. • [Image via BBC.com]

Two years before the original book, Generation X was published, Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, echoed some of the explosive opinions expressed by the youth culture.

…my glazzies were stuck together real horrorshow like sleepglue. – Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange

Movie Still from A Clockwork Orange, 1971

Movie Still from Stanley Kurbrik’s, A Clockwork Orange, 1971 • [Image via wall.alphacoders.com]

In 1976, Billy Idol would name his punk band – Generation X, after Hamblett and Deverson’s book, appropriately fusing the Gen-X label to punk music. In its active years, the band was an underground punk phenomenon until Billy Idol would make a name for himself in the 1980s with Rebel Yell and White Wedding, among other hits. Generation X’s music would later gain popularity, as rabid fans of Billy Idol would unearth his earlier work with Generation X. Like the enigmatic Gen-X generation, the band, Gen-X would disappear into the cracks of culture and re-emerge in screaming fits of unwarranted exposure.

Generation X Band

Billy Idol named his band, Generation X, after Hamblett and Deverson’s Generation X, a book his mother owned. • [Image via thep5.blogspot.com]

Britian's Punks

News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio), • Friday, April 29, 1977 • [Image via Newspapers.com]


 X 3.0 Reloaded

In 1991, two symbolic events would further define an isolated and exasperated youth culture, the release of Douglas Coupland’s Generation X: Tales Of An Accelerated Culture and Nirvana’s Nevermind album – both creating an enriched sound and philosophy of Gen-X in the wake of Operation Desert Storm and the year’s end collapse of the Soviet Union.

[Image via modernmrsdarcy.com]

I just want to show society what people born after 1960 think about things… We’re sick of stupid labels, we’re sick of being marginalized in lousy jobs, and we’re tired of hearing about ourselves from others. – Doug Coupland, Boston Globe, 1991 (Wikipedia)

This Book Review of Coupland’s Generation X, written by Michael Hutak, describes the early 1990s third wave of despair, hopelessness and insights into the Xers of the struggling to navigate a stagnant economy, not far removed from the discontent of the previous incarnations associated with the Gen-X label.

Coupland's Generation X - 1992 Book Review by Michael Hutak • Courtesy of hutak.org

Generation X by Douglas Coupland – 1992 Book Review by Michael Hutak • [Image via hutak.org]

In 1991, I was in my junior year in high school, ditching classes on a regular basis, frequenting Rocky Horror Picture Show performances at the Balboa Theater and drinking MGD’s (Miller Genuine Draft) with my friends on a trestle in San Timoteo Canyon at midnight waiting for the next train so we could hurl our empty beer bottles into an open railcar. I fantasized that I was an empty bottle in a pile of woodchips and ride the train forever.

[image via 'Rennaissance Girl' photo by Rae • trg-photos.blogspot.com]

[Image via • trg-photos.blogspot.com • photo by Rae]


 Gen-X Today

All generations are defined and re-defined as they collectively adapt, respond and interact with technology; grow older and with self-reflection, become a little wiser.

In his book, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, Chuck Klosterman suggests that the movie, The Empire Strikes Back, is “the seminal foundation for what became “Generation X,” and similar to Capa’s first utterance of the “X” label, Klosterman’s view of The Empire Strikes Back “set the social aesthetic for a generation coming in the future,” as if it were a pre-determined outcome.

Chuck Klosterman: A Voice of Generation X

[Image via Wikipedia]

…all the clichés about Gen Xers were true – but the point everyone failed to make was that our whole demographic was comprised of cynical optimists. – Chuck Klosterman, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs

Generation X will continue to define itself by action and though, this generation may be comfortable with their imposed namesake, this they will speak for itself in ways that may not be realized until a later date in history. It truly is a generation that doesn’t have time to explain itself, but not inclined to take anyone else’s word for it.


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Solo GenX Warriors ™ | Disclaimer

 

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