When you’ve exhausted all your options for attempting to making your life better and nothing has changed, you’ve reached the point of complete frustration. For a lot of the us the 2000’s have represented the Age Of Frustration.
New Years Eve 1999 was the best ever. It had everything I could want in a new years and especially at that time. The music was great, a lot of fun, interesting people, a large house with many rooms as well as lots of neat places to explore on the property, a lot of fun activities, great food and drink. When the magical moment hit exactly at 12:00 am I was kissed by the most beautiful tall blond woman I have ever seen. The kiss seemed to have lasted a long time and all my friends saw it. Wow, what a way to start the 2000’s!
Eleven years later all of that promise is gone unfortunately. Every aspect of life never came to fruition after that including women, career, intellectual & spiritual fulfillment. It also marked a noticeable decline economically. The Dot. Com boom was in its last throes as the financial down turn was at its dawn. Jobs were shrinking & yet the cost of living was rising. For a lot of us things were never the same after that new years. I know many people who have struggled financially ever since then.
So here we are within the midst of The Age Of Frustration and since nothing can change that fact for some of us it would seem that we are stuck in an awful cycle. I have tried just about everything I could think of but nothing has worked. I am reminded of the plight of Sisyphus when I think of my life and many others who find themselves in a similar situation. Sisyphus was a king punished by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this throughout eternity. I wrote about this theme in a lengthy story that of course has not sold yet. Most of us are a representation of Sisyphus as most of us never seem to quite get over the top to transcend our shortcomings. Of course, a lot depends on our aspirations for life. I don’t think it’s too much to ask to have a wife, children, a stable income and creative satisfaction. In fact, it would seem to be quite common. There may be some outsider element to who I am but like I said I still would like to have some pretty common aspects to my life. Hell, even Harvey Pekar and Charles Bukowski were married, several times even! Sometimes I wonder if I am an outsiders outsider.
Speaking of ‘The Outsider’, one of my favorite authors is Colin Wilson. Colin Wilson’s, ‘The Age Of Defeat’ is in some ways is my inspiration for ‘The Age Of Frustration.’ However, where as Wilson wrote ‘The Age Of Defeat’ as a book with the theme of the vanishing hero and using literature as evidence with some forays into sociology as well as philosophy & psychology, I am writing this article & what will be a series of articles with the theme of our lives in the 2000’s and the lack of fulfillment on all levels. Like Bukowski and Pekar, Wilson is married too and has to this day enjoyed a long & distinguished creative career. Despite the differences in forms used to express ourselves as well as our personal lives I will bring in elements of Wilson’s ‘The Age Of Defeat’ throughout my series of articles, ‘The Age Of Frustration’.
Wilson’s starting point in the ‘The Age Of Defeat’ was sociologist David Riesman who’s basic argument was that old pioneering virtues had gone out of America for the men who opened the West and had been ‘Inner-Directed’. However, their descendants of post World War II are ‘Other Directed’, looking to other people to provide their sense of values. I would argue that we are still in an age of ‘Other Directed’ society 65 years on thus leading to a lot of angst and now find ourselves in an ‘Age Of Frustration.’
Incidentally the book Reisman wrote is called, ‘The Lonely Crowd’ which in and of itself could be used to describe the theme of the people I write for including myself more than any other group. Another similarity with ‘Defeat’ and ‘Frustration’ is when Wilson talks about his friend Stuart who wrote ‘A Sense Of Crisis ‘ declares, ‘Our present need is not so much to come back to Religion as to rediscover & recreate it.’ For many of us religion has become stale and meaningless over the past sixty years. The Beat movement of the 1950’s broke the ground on looking to other religions and the beginnings of recreating it. The social upheaval and renaissance of the 1960’s took it to another level and for those of us that followed have been discovering new ways of recreating it ever since. This has been a key element to the transformation of our society over the last forty years plus. However, there have not been enough of us going back to the ‘inner directed’ ways and evolving it into the 2010’s.
Wilson also touches on the theme of universal escapism and how the unhappy hero is intelligent enough to think about his problems. I would add to that in the ‘Age Of Frustration’ we have more opportunities to think about our problems and the more intelligent we are the more we dwell on our problems and thus the more it hurts. Wilson felt that the basic solution to the Outsider’s problem lies in realism, not in daydreaming. I would agree as I have wasted to much time, years really in daydreaming. Daydreaming is good when you are starting out in life as an adult and everything is new as it is one of the aspects of driving creativity. However, after awhile it drains time and thus ones life dissolves into what if’s.
When we have lost our way or just deduced that there is no point to life as it has no real meaning then according to Wilson we are inevitably going to plunge into pessimism. This is logical to a certain point but the other side to this nihilistic perspective is that if life is pointless and void of meaning then all the more reason to live it to the fullest living in the here and now more robustly. However, living life to the fullest put many of us in the situation we are in today or at least contributed to putting us in this ‘Age Of Frustration’. How we balance the two will decide our future for many of us. Shall we continue down a path of more frustration perhaps leading to dystopian future or break free of our frustrations, transcending them at last and finding a utopian future?