Monday, July 07, 2008

Teen Rebellion at 38

OK.  So it's going to be another one of 'those' posts: Jeneva and her iPod coming off the Metro.  Am listening to Green Day's American Idiot, specifically to "Jesus of Suburbia" to which I have taken a liking in recent years.  It's an ideal teen rebellion song: one of those songs full of not-quite-ripe testosterone and bubbling over with stadium-rock guitar and drum antics.  Who can resist a song, in the waning days of the Bush Administration, a diatribe directly addressed to him?  "A hurricane of f*cking lies," indeed.  And which transitions from one part of the song to another on an increasingly frenzied chorus of "I don't care, no".  

I tell you, like so much else, rebellion is wasted on the young.  I had my teen rebellion at about 38 and it was one of the most satisfying episodes of my life, despite being filled with emotional contusions.  I knew what I was rebelling against at that point; I had reasons to rebel.  They were good ones.  You can't really rebel against something as amorphous as the Bush Administration--it's got to be much more personal than that.  Yes, I behaved badly and lived to tell the tale.  And if the end of rebellion is developing the means to reshape your life or to build in oneself a certain reckless courage--to understand, viscerally, that you can fight to survive if you have to, that you can be extremely tough--then did I rebel.  Did it matter.  Does it still reverberate now.  In more positive ways, of course!

I think I will try to write over the next two weeks or so about how willing any of us are to read differently.  This upon reflecting on William Logan's disgraceful review of Frank O'Hara on the front page of the NYTBR last Sunday, and, also, although certainly not at all disgraceful, Amanda Fortini's positive, yet puzzled review on Slate of Manguso's The Two Kinds of Decay (brought to my attention by my husband this AM).  Fortini is puzzled by a poet's "curiously prosaic" approach to the book.  I.e., she is unwilling to read the gaps between the sentences and the disjunctures they create as a sort of poetry and philosophy at once.  Her approach to reading insists that the sentences be contiguous, continuous, and build toward an ultimate point.  I can't do it here tonight, and want to focus later on other issues with reading and writing about motherhood, but read the review and you'll see what I mean.  Fortini applies a standard prose reading method to the book.  She loves it, and gives it a great review (and an insightful one from the context of writing about illness), but can't accommodate listening to and reading the sentences themselves for what they are.

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