“Can’t say it often enough — change your hair, change your life.” Thomas Pynchon, Inherent Vice*
If only life were so easy to change. Then again, would we want to be able to change our lives as quickly as changing our hair? Can we change our lives? If is it possible, would it be desirable?
Damn, I got this quote from a list of absurdist quotes on Twitter, and it seemed reasonably absurd at the time. Not quite surreal, but absurd. But the more I look at it, the more it seems like something we think fairly regularly. We only need to; change our hair, our weight, our job, our economic circumstances, or some other alterable feature of our lives.
This is a question we all struggle with, I think. We are told we can change, we can “better ourselves”, “pick ourselves up by the bootstraps”, have a complete makeover. Then when the new wardrobe, or the new boyfriend, leads to the same cul-de-sac, we feel we have failed somehow.
We of the modern age are driven to improvement – both social and personal. We, and the world, are never enough. We must advance along a line of progress, the culmination of which is what? This drive for change is the very heart of the modern era, and the very soul of our discontent.
The following is from Dr. Bob Zunjic’s syllabus for a course on THE IDEA OF MODERNITY:
Everything in the modern era seems to be in motion, change and transition toward the future. Our age is by far the most complex period in human history and the most dynamic one. While Modernity is just a small fraction in the whole history of mankind it is certainly the age that has brought more rapid change in human life than any previous in human history (this relentless acceleration is both its essence and fate). There is a strong feeling of advancing and speeding up in the constant search for renewal. The perpetual transformations that supersede every achieved stage of development affect everything, from life style and the way how we work and govern ourselves up to the way how we think and express ourselves.
It has driven us to destroy the earth in our quest to perfect it, and it drives us insane as we try to perfect ourselves. Maybe that is the absurdist core of the quote. And perhaps the hardest thing of all to change is a world in which change is the perpetual demand.
Twitter Quote: https://twitter.com/penguinrandom/status/663755187861987329