You might say that the greatest compliment one writer can pay to another is to get pissed at him for taking an idea that he too had had and actually getting off his butt and writing it. (I’m not sure that sentence worked exactly. But if you read it a few times I’m sure you’ll get the idea.) The only thing worse is if he does it well. Which brings me to this column by Jake Weisberg in Slate today.
Weisberg takes on the rapidly congealing but utterly fatuous cliche that the 1990s were a decade of daydreams and indulgence from which we were so rudely, but in some respects thankfully, awakened by the traumas of September 11th. That was a decade of silliness; this will be a decade of seriousness.
We should almost expect some favored popular writer to write a new version of Frederick Lewis Allen’s Only Yesterday — a classic, and well-worth-your-while book about the Roaring Twenties written just after the market crash and beginning of the Great Depression.
I’d run through the argument but Weisberg covers all the right bases.
And as long as we’re talking about there being no level of profundity that banality, nostalgia, and triviality can’t conquer, I assume you’ve heard how President Bush thinks the war on terrorism offers a chance for his generation to prove it has the mettle and determination of the ‘greatest generation.’ But I ask you, isn’t this just another version of the same baby-boomer self-obsession and myopia?