My friends are turning 30. More to the point, they have been turning 30, one by one, for several years now, the difference now is that the friends I think of as 'my age' are turning 30. Why is this significant? Because, like a whole bunch of people, I have woken up at this juncture of my life, looked around and said, 'This is not what I expected.'
Don't get me wrong. There are many aspects of my life I am perfectly fine with and which are indeed either what I expected or what anyone with half a brain could have predicted taking me as a sample when I was 18 years old. (Can you imagine them: 'Hmm, we have a bookish 18 year old girl with gothic propensities studying literature at a research university in the south eastern suburbs. Seems to be making friends with vegetarians and other bookish types, including men who wear glasses. Favours feminist philosophy. Lower middle class parents with BBC viewing habits and *aspirations*. Shall end up with high levels of education in the liberal disciplines and hence will have solid cultural capital but an empty bank account... Will probably marry a man who reads Kafka and Dostoevsky')
But back to the 30 something stuff. One by one my friends have said to me 'this is not what I expected' and I know what they mean. I think it is because we unknowingly entered a bargain. It went something like this: I will work really hard at study and postpone a number of things on the idea that at the end of it I will have a rewarding career that fulfils my yearnings for identity and meaning as well as the need to earn money. For some people this has worked out just right, and for the majority the earning a living bit has been taken care of, although in these unstable times you never know. But as for the rest?
So as I was talking to people at a friend's 30th party last night I was struck by how much the language of our public life leaves whole areas off the map that are actually the 'rest'. I am working on an essay on what the role of education should be in our society and the literature goes on and on about fitting people for the postindustrial workforce, like education is the human version of a technology upgrade. The language of our public life captures everything in terms of economy and fitting in to the 'market'. We all know that this is not all there is - but there is strange absence of any language to talk about the alternatives, the 'rest' off the map.
My favourite books and films and conversations deal with this other stuff - the stuff that cannot be accounted for.
So I guess this is why I am on board for this web log thing, because I think that those languages and that map - well, you have to make it yourself, with the things that come to hand from your favourite books and music and film - stuff that 'speaks to you' as they say, and in concert with your friends. We are the alternative.
Okay. End of my rant. Would somebody else like a turn?