Two Points

Posted by @ 5:04 pm on March 16th, 2012

1) On August 17, 1991, in CMT studios in Culver City, California, Kurt Cobain was, or at least affectedly, seen deep in the throes of executing a dissonant power chord. The video was lit as a Caravaggio painting, the dirty yellow umbers of indoor light shutting off the blue sky. A spotlight reflecting off the drum kit acts as fire, the incipient spark of a generation. The casting call summoned extras aged 18 – 25 years old dressed in “high-school persona i.e., preppy, punk, nerd, jock…,” the abbreviated, yet sadly accurate, ethos of our youth. The basketball hoop, perennial throughout the entire video, seemed both detached and stately as a crucifix. It represented the high school stadium, that place of mutual assembly, of cheerleaders and meanness, the constellation of gum hidden under bleachers. If the reader will bear with me, he and she will accept that everyone who entered CMT studios that day a little before 11:30 am was — besides one-or-two effectively null Asians (in our forthcoming yet apparent context) — white, which is less of a problem than a benign concession to the binary of race. It was simply time for white kids to freak out, and that’s okay. I’m glad I was there. 2) In 1994, following the controversial publication of The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, which linked race to inherent qualities or even dispositions, a tenured anthropologist at U.C. Berkeley offered Michael Jordan as an example of a black person’s inherent talent, perhaps even genius, in physical ability — in this case jumping with inhuman ability — whose allusions to intellectual deficiency were sad yet subliminal. The book was quickly both dismissed and heralded by the suspecting parties. What concerns me here, though, is not race and a fractured America, of white and black boys and their respective thwarted fates proposed by dreams, but the delusional colorless hope shared by both: to see a pedestrian God so close yet so far from the net, frozen in the grace of their flourish, arms doing perfectly what needed to be done for their followers. The heavy wane of disappearing youth as a chord which drones for a long time afterwards, decades even. Two points stuffed by a weightless man, a marbled pose chiseled by spectacle, a stadium of held breath, high past a line from which others could only dare throw.