I want to say that I don’t mean to listen to Weezer. Weezer as an encounter on the road to Serendip, or whatever.
But even when I don’t mean to, I mean to listen to Weezer. I go to the places that play Weezer while all of us regulars turn the pages of a Chomsky volume and say things in Latin that we don’t understand (I say this confidently, having just Googled “sine qua non” for the third time tonight). I know that they’ll play Weezer. I even know when a Weezer jam will come on. It’ll be two songs after Take Me Out or The Fallen by Franz Ferdinand and directly before Where Is My Mind by the Pixies.
This person I’ve become is everything I hoped I would be when I was fourteen and everything I feel I should be ashamed of as a twenty-something.
Regardless, I am less-than embarrassed. The things that made me feel cultured as a teen, combined with the things that are shattering my academic soul as an adult, help me take myself a little less seriously.
In middle and high school, I pretty much exclusively wore band t-shirts, plaid button-downs, and Chucks, I cut my own hair,which of course included bangs, and I listened to a lot of music of variable quality. I was kind of an asshole about it. I exclusively dated musicians (or, at least, aspirational musicians, or people who knew more about music than I did, or people who pretended convincingly), and I wrote a lot of bad poetry. After a brief period of humiliation upon reaching self-awareness, I realized that I was just doing what teenagers do, and I became reacquainted with the elements of my younger self that maybe I still am a little bit. The band-tee-and-Weezer me is, for better or for worse, a part of me. Embracing the poseur I was allows me embrace the moderately less self-aggrandizing but still-just-as-clueless person I am. In the spirit of fake it ’til you make it, I still try to sound like I know a couple of things. I recognize, though, that no matter how much time or effort I put into knowing some stuff, I will never actually make it. I will always be ignorant. This is distressing. It makes me wish for more time, for more energy, for more something, anything, that will let me give up the act. But in the face of this anxiety, remembering my adolescent poseur roots helps me feel less shy about going for it, whatever it happens to be.
Knowledge work is hard, and it’s vulnerable in weird ways. The process doesn’t stop at consuming information and regurgitating it. You have to ruminate on it and digest it, and then you have to take the sustenance you got from the information and use it to figure out something new. Like all generative work that one intends to be a contribution to a corpus, it requires not only the flexibility and effort of creation, but also the audacity to send the work out into the world for people to see. You show up in somebody’s office, or at a conference, or in a gallery, or on a stage, and you say, “Here are all of my guts. I hope you like them.”
Lately, my brain has been getting stomped. I mean, just completely flattened. I’m in way over my head with a couple of my classes, I spend half of my time knee-deep in research-related tasks, and, for some reason, my hobbies all have the capacity to be challenging to the point of frustration. I get so wrapped up in trying to do things right, and in trying to be right, that I forget the joys of pretending that I’m going to someday cross the finish line and of convincing myself that I know what I’m doing. But then somebody blasts the Blue Album, and it all comes back.
Everything Will Be Alright In The End.