An article in the Star Tribune online caught my eye today. It seems that creditors are using an unusual loophole in Minnesota law (Minnesota being one of the most creditor friendly states in the U.S.) to send debtors to jail. That's right: Jail. Generally the bail is set to match the amount of the debt owed, and upon payment, the charges are dropped. This worries me, not just because of the fact that I owe every living person on earth a sum of money, but moreover, for it's far reaching implications. As if we don't have enough obstacles in our path to achieve the great brass ring of a "comfortable life" (whatever that might be) we now have to worry that we'll face jail time for accruing debt, which, I have learned the hard way, is an absolute necessity if you want to do anything other than live in your parents basement or, if you're lucky, a weekly rate motel room.
I'm fucking done trying. I've jumped through every hoop that society told me to jump through. I went to college, got married, worked at a steady job, and tried to put some money away for the future. Along the way, I found myself in debt, not unlike everyone else I know. Jobs were lost, bills went unpaid to facilitate the purchase of little niceties like food and gas, and before I knew it, I had nothing. Absolutely nothing. Ten years ago I was married, living in a four bedroom house, had two (operating) vehicles in the garage, and even dental insurance. As I write this I have twenty bucks in my pocket that I "earned" by selling some books, and a car (thankfully paid off in full) sitting in the garage (which does not belong to me) that will not run. I'd go on and on, but we all know about the banal details of the daily struggle. It's tedium unto death. First, toil. Then, the grave.
I'm hoisting a flag. I'm going to start cutting throats. I'm declaring war.
I flatly refuse to sit on my hand while a bunch of rich, white bloated plutocrats make millions by offering credit to poor prospects and then eviscerate the nation when these struggling people can't pay up, and then have the balls necessary to ask the Federal Government for a bailout so they can continue wiping their asses with 100's, and then jail me for their own oversight. I'm okay with being destitute. I'm walking away from this whole mess. I'm burning all my outstanding bills. Fuck this.
I've tried playing by the rules, I really have. I've done everything society deems necessary to live a full productive life. I voted. I paid my taxes. I applied for the necessary permits. And it got me nowhere.
I'm lucky that I'm childless. I can't imagine how my friends with children manage, period. I often joke about earth being a "slave planet" but it's really begun to feel like that to me. Just absolutely stifling and suffocating. There is no room for creativity or idle speculation. Any attempts to develop these powers will be snuffed out, likely by the time of high school graduation, and if through some miracle you manage to maintain your individuality throughout the re-education camp of public school, you will face an adulthood of degradation, menial labor, spirit crushing poverty, and constant need, lack, want.
In hindsight I'm embarrassed by my decision to study advertising. It seemed the perfect career choice for me then. I could channel all my loathing towards the human race by using the powers of my literary persuasion to get them to buy things they never wanted or needed. After a few semesters I realized that I was targeting the wrong enemy. It's not the "people" I hate, it's the man behind the curtain, the man who manufactures need, the man who sold us "cool" or "new." My dislike for people in general stems from their seeming inability to see past this charade, this manufacturing of fads that leads directly to a manufacturing of consent and a loss of your identity. But I can hardly blame them. In a world this shitty, what else is there to do but get excited when your corporate masters tell you to? It sure beats giving a long, hard stare at our current circumstances.
Do well in high school. Get good grades, thus ensuring your attendance at a reputable university. Do even better in college. Get married, Reproduce. Consider stock options. Invest wisely. Reproduce again, if possible. Maintain employment at a reputable firm. Save for the future. Go on fulfilling vacations to places that maintain the illusion of distance and exotic charm, but make sure that there is a McDonalds and that at least some of the natives speak English. Post photos of this trip on a social networking website so that your friends will know you are successful enough to afford leisure. Find a safe hobby. Maintain a healthy, verdant frontage. Retire.
I am constitutionally incapable of doing this. Even if I had the necessary emotional and psychological make-up to perform this amazing feat of self denial and oppressive regimentation, I would still flatly refuse. It sounds melodramatic, and it probably is, but the world at large has made it abundantly clear that I don't have what it takes to live a normal life, and subsequently, it no longer wants me. That's fine. I no longer want IT.
How are we supposed to find the time to ask ourselves important questions, even if they are ugly ones who's answers we might not want to hear? How are we supposed to develop not just ourselves as individuals, but more importantly, ourselves as a species, if our trajectory through life has already been described for us, using the most narrow, restrictive, and threatening terms imaginable? I don't want to be chained to expectation. I want what Tolstoy wanted...a job that is meaningful, the ability to do good, a quiet life with time for speculation, space, both emotional and physical, and someone to share all these things with. I see no way that nay of these things are possible without sacrificing the most important thing, our ability to think for ourselves.
I'm so frustrated I can barely think, let alone articulate the nature of my frustration. As Bruce McCulloch would say "I'm in a rut so deep I could hang up posters." It's easier to just put a match to this whole mess and walk away. There is simply no place to start "putting it back together." Putting what back together, exactly? I had nothing to begin with. I have nothing now, and that's just where I need to start, to begin making a future towards my new life on the rubble of the old.
I'm reminded of Chris McCandless, a man so driven (some would say suicidally so) to understand himself that he followed that urge literally to death, dying alone in an abandoned school bus in the Alaskan bush. Say what you will about his motivations, his idealism, and his starry eyed innocence, but whom among you can say that you're prepared to die for your principles, when the powers that be have mandated that the only principles we need concern ourselves with is our fucking credit score?
I'm a bad prospect for banks, landlords, credit card companies, and prospective employers. I get it, I understand the joke. So what's next?
Someone once said that if you're desperate enough to commit suicide, you're desperate enough to stow away on a ship to parts unknown and start over wherever you happen to land. That someone was right. I'm doing this my way. I'm liberating myself from all this nonsense about what amounts to success. I'm already successful. I made it to my thirties with a rebellious streak a mile wide and a complete and absolute unwillingness to conform in any sense to the notions prescribed to me by a faceless bland mechanism that wants only my obedience and my blood money. I'm going to finish my book, make obscene amounts of money, and give it all to my friends and family so I can live out of my car. I'm going to grow a beard down to my waist. I'm going to sleep on the dirt. I will never have a cell phone again. I'm going to change my name, burn my birth certificate, and rejoice in the fact that I have never had a copy of my Social Security card. I'm going to walk around in a fucking Jedi robe if I so choose. I don't give a shit anymore. I have utterly given up trying to adhere to the clauses inherent in the human social contract. I'm not even a part of the human race anymore, as far as I'm concerned.
William S. Burroughs once said "The revolution will come when we ignore all others out of existence." Amen, brother Bill. As of this second, my life prior to this was a fiction.