Prozac Nation came out at the end of my first year in college. Kurt Cobain killed himself the next year. Today seems completely disconnected from that time, but here is Elizabeth Wurtzel still writing the same thing at 45. Here are the suicides of David Foster Wallace and Aaron Swartz.
According to Wurtzel the reader is a cliche and she herself is not. It’s a lie that we’re not completely sure is false. Is it true that everything has changed? We’re not living in happy or secure times. Can Gen Y really declare ourselves free of a time when Prozac Nation spoke for us?
Last year I finished one graduate degree while working full time, quit that job and launched a business over the summer, and started an MBA program in the fall.
Me: I don’t feel like I accomplished anything this year.
My guy: what would make you feel like you accomplished something?
Me: if I knew the answer I would stop getting degrees.
Wurtzel claims no one goes to graduate school on a lark, but actually in an era where no rational reasons for graduate school remain everyone does. It’s not about a pure heart, it’s about trying to find a place to exist in a rootless world. Wurtzel claims the houses, the kids, the things give everyone else in our generation roots, even happiness, but they don’t. And, in the nihilism of the present age, you can shed all of those things and disappear from illusion that is a life with roots.
I started on a wrong path, read Prozac Nation, married the wrong man, filled the wrong house with the wrong things. Eventually I piled them in the garage with the door open and invited my friends to take everything away. I’m several lives down the road, supposedly stable, just in time for the things of generations past to fill my house. Everything about this is older than us. Eva Tushnet, discussing Wurtzel, quoted Tolstoy perfectly. Musicians died before Kurt Cobain. Suicide existed before rock stars.
Here is what I know at age 37: Living on a lark is not that interesting. Everyone makes it up as they go along. I am not that interesting. I am a cliche to myself every moment, except when I have the intentionality to create something new. Even then with the possibility of being unique I already know myself, so how can I be interesting? Other people are interesting. Even if they are a cliche, at any moment they could do something different. You just have to see them.
Written by loafingcactus and originally published on loafingcactus’ Cactus Juice. Photo: my college yearbook photo, 1992.
Background on the Kerfluffle:
Miss Self-Important in noboy sasses a girl in glasses – Maybe some writers exist soley to prompt responses superior to the prompts themselves
referencing David Foster Wallace in Harpers – The Depressed Person
& Amber in Prettier Than Napoleon – Elizabeth Wurtzel, Spendthrift Heart
& Eva Tushnet in patheos – The gold is a lie!!!- and other lies we tell ourselves
Amanda Marcotte in Slate – Elizabeth Wurtzel Writes About Herself Again. Memoir Finally Hits Bottom.
referencing Hamilton Nolan in Gawker – Journalism is Not Narcissism