I’ve been thinking about Cowboy Bebob, and how typically 90’s it is. In fact, I think that Japanese anime from that period is one of the best encapsulations of that era, that generation that came of age in the 90’s and the zeitgeist that informed this generation. There is sort of a bleak irony that permeates the thought of that period, a sadness at the world around them and a pessimism at the prospects the future holds. The anti-hero, dystopian settings, and tragic endings; the 90’s didn’t invent these things, but they did seem to have been refined, or at least embraced, in that period and by the generation that grew up during it.
And it is so easy, especially for those who grew up in this atmosphere, to think that this dark vision of the world, this eye for sadness, somehow bears with it a more realistic view of the world, a certain truthfulness that resists the polyannishness of more optimistic perspectives. This is not true, and no one should believe it. There is no more truthful or less truthful paradigm. That isn’t to say that there cannot be lies, for not all facts are borne as easily in one perspective as in another, and it is a truth that there is not always sorrow. There is joy in the world, moments, even periods, of levity and gaity. But we choose to emphasis one and down play the other, to see one experience as defining and another as temporary, an outlier of life.
It could just as easily go one way as the other, and there is no reason for choosing either other than that we believe one and not the other. I have no other argument for seeing things this way other than it resonates with me. And why should it do that other than personal temperment combined with shapings from social environment. What a tragedy, a generation of brooding, irony laden, pessimists who can’t believe in hope because it presents an affront with their bleak and jaded sense of style. But I shouldn’t be too condemning, for it is a beautiful, poetic tragedy, as profoundly grounded in the reality of human experience as any other perspective.
But not any more profound. It does not imbue the thinker with greater insight than any other paradigm. You can be just as shallow and ignorant in your pessimism as you can be in your optimism. I recognize the need to strive towards a balanced, and deeper, approach to life. And if I cannot manage that, at least let my skewed perspective be balanced by the realization that it is no more or less real than any other perspective on life, to at least strive to preserve an honest effort toward truthfulness, whether it bears well with my views or not. Perhaps this too is a mark of my generation, this burning desire for earnestness, but I doubt it. I think it is a universal attribute and can be characteristic of optimism and hope as it is for those with grimmer world views.
So, let the darkness be held at bay, if not by hope than at least by truth. And if not truth, than at least an earnest and open pursuit of the truth, which is a kind of hope in and of itself. Amen.