This blog is about living the American Dream at the dawn of the new millennium! I am a nameless, mid-20s, bottom 150 Law School Graduate who finds himself marginally attached and awash in a sea of overeducated but underpaid, indentured peers who feel, and were, duped by the promise of a better life through debt and modern chemistry. Let's get to the point. The Law School Industrial Complex is a scam that has destroyed a generation out of greed. Vendettas were once legal and the pursuit of one was seen not only as moral, but necessary. This newly minted lawyer is going to continue the practice. DON'T GO TO LAW SCHOOL YOU MORONS! Ce qui suit est ce qui reste!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Fight Club!

"If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this useless fine print is another second off your life. Don't you have other things to do? Is your life so empty that you honestly can't think of a better way to spend these moments? Or are you so impressed with authority that you give respect and credence to all that claim it? Do you read everything you're supposed to read? Do you think every thing you're supposed to think? Buy what you're told to want? Get out of your apartment. Meet a member of the opposite sex. Stop the excessive shopping and masturbation. Quit your job. Start a fight. Prove you're alive. If you don't claim your humanity you will become a statistic. You have been warned." ~ Tyler Durden


*Sidenote, If she thinks she got fucked hard in grade school, she is missing out! Go to an Any-Tier Toilet Law School for a real hardcore, ass pounding, curled in a fetal position in the corner shaking, bleeding like a BP offshore oil platform from every hole kind of fuck. You know the kind of brutal, exploitative rape fucking that would disgust Andrea Dworkin to the point of starting a picket line, but I digress.

Now that I got that much obscenity out of my system, let's continue.  When I first started this blog, I knew that bringing up Fight Club was inevitable.  In fact, the parallels are so blatant and obvious I'm surprised someone else hasn't already referenced it (maybe they did and I just missed it).  The other troubling aspect is that it seems to raise more questions than answers (oO you're deep!).  It's really just rambling peppered with Fight Club references, quotations and imagery. *Apologies to Angry Future Expat, the post I promised is on its way but I'd already finished this one.

Of course, the novel and movie version of Fight Club came out over a decade ago, but I think it speaks to the situation of the Indentured Mind Servants "Millenials," or whatever you want to call us, far more than it did to readers back then (I'm pretty sure a lot of people reading this would gladly welcome the kind of mid-1990s job market that led to the "rampant materialistic consumerism," like fulfilling basic needs, that Tyler Durden rails against in a heartbeat).



The tale of the Edward Norton/Jack/Narrator is easily related to by many who write or read these last outlets of factual truth blogs (hopefully without the insomnia driven psychotic split from reality).  Jack felt stuck, lost, disconnected, as if his life had no meaning, blah blah blah.  Jack became desperate for a higher purpose/meaning/calling with his life. It has a lot to do with identity issues (see here).

The vast majority who go into higher ed, whether its law school or something else, find themselves in Jack's place at the beginning of the story (hopefully without the insomnia caused psychotic split from reality).  Like Jack, you're in a bit of an existential crisis and you decide to attend graduate school, instead of a fight club, in the hopes that it leads to a "better" life.

As powerfully put by Tyler Durden in Fight Club:



Or for a music video interpretation see below...



(Also check out this month's May "Women" issue of Esquire with Christina Hendricks the reincarnated Greek goddess of cleavage to see what I mean (save the money though and just read it at a newstand).  Turn to page 92 where it has the profile and quote from twelve women who are 27 years old.  All of them have positive, witty, or upbeat takes on their life except for one---- Carissa Fox/Law Student: "I always had this dream of being an overhyped starlet. That I'm not is rather disheartening."  She's also the one whose facial expression is the most insincere).


*btw, this message is also unifying & supposedly liberating, in some ways. As these blogs point out there's a sense of community from so many of us being equally screwed.


The question that I keep coming back to is whether we brought this current predicament onto ourselves? 

Here is something to consider:

We're an unprecedentedly narcissistic generation, here is two other psychologists take on it using data  (There's also seems to be a collective occurrence of "relative deprivation" going on right now, but I'm dumbing everything down because this is the internet , I didn't come here to do journal quality work; facts don't really seem to matter to most of the Lemming/Apologist trolls out there);

But just because we're more self-obsessed than previous generations doesn't really let the Profiteers out there get off the hook.

The other question I have is what now?



We've now got an entire lost generation bunch of people who went down the higher ed path and came out of the other side with the same existential dilemma (or even worse problems than before).  All of these people who lost years of their lives, huge sums of money in order to get a degree only to end up right back where they started or even further back on the board game of life.

Esquire ran a piece by one of the hipster gods, Chuck Klosterman, on the likelihood of "revolution" in America a couple years ago because of political developments.  I don't know whether this Great Recession/Education Crash will actually lead to a "revolution" or "rebellion," but there's a lot of literature that shows it's a pretty good indicator for an unstable society.  Speaking of an education bubble, how'd that shit get started?

We'll never get any studies that can positively identify the cause/causes of why more people took the LSAT last fall than ever before (I don't remember the exact figure but it was sickening).  However, based on my powerful intuition, I would bet a couple of bucks that the cultural myth I'm talking about here played some part in it.

Fight Club: "If you don't know what you want," the doorman said, "you end up with a lot you don't."

We're told repeatedly and consistently that if we're unhappy in our lives or want to improve, we should go to...

SCHOOL! SCHOOL! SCHOOL! It's like Robitussin, no matter what, MORE INSTITUTIONAL BASED "EDUCATION" WILL FIX IT!



Higher education was supposed to be the magic key that let us escape the "daily grind" where we found ourselves so dissatisfied (although to properly frame the argument being made by some, "No it gave you the opportunity to make something of yourself/pull  yourself up by your bootstraps" *see fundamental attribution error).  I have yet to see anyone post or comment on one of these blogs who said something like the following:

"I'm going to/went to law school to learn about the law out of intellectual curiosity as part of my larger existential search for truth and meaning via learning. In no way did the money I spent or the money I would eventually earn enter into my decision making process."

Instead it goes something like this...

Back during the bar review days, I was in a cafe/coffee shop/modern day office space for 6 to 7 hours a day and so I got to know the staff fairly well (most of whom, at first, suspected that I was some kind of homeless loon based on my appearance and the odd shaped blue books I had with me at all times).  But one of the wokers recognized the tell tale books, the color is a hint to legally educated readers, as any Zero Lemming/Moron/No-Real-Life would, and asked me about Law School.

As the discussion progressed, I came to find out that the Zero Lemming, hereafter Pat...girl or boy who knows It's Pat!, was indeed considering law school.  Although I hadn't started this blog yet, I started to have a substantive discussion with Pat going over the reality of the process and the prospects once Pat had graduated.  As I went on, Pat's facial expression transformed to a small child first learning Santa Claus didn't exist. (roll tape)

0L:  "I want to go top tier!"
Me:  "What's your GPA/LSAT?"

Pat told me. Not bad but not great considering the "applicant market" and Pat's resume.

Me: "Have you gotten a considerable or full scholarship to any of the schools you've applied to thus far?"
0L: "No."
Me: "Do you have any debt from undergrad?"
0L: "Well I have around $80,000, but I went Ivy League!"



Oh for fuck's sake...

I asked Pat what type of loans, the interest rate and how it was going for Pat to pay off the current loans.  Pat said it wasn't easy but that didn't matter because after law school it would change.


Me: "Well what appeals to you about law school and what do you want to do after?"
0L: "I want to work on policy issues like (insert any big political topic, I'll leave out what the 0L told me because it's so ludicrous)!"

I then asked Pat if he/she had ever tried working somewhere, listing several local & national NGOs to try, that specialized in the policy issues Pat was interested in.  Nope.  Pat told me that all of the job positions like the ones I mentioned required a master's degree or law degree or doctorate (see what happens when there's an oversupply?).  


At a certain point, I realized that I was kicking a puppy who didn't understand why.  So, I tried to end on a high note and come up with some funny anecdotes about my experience & some survival tips.  I wished Pat the best and told him/her that maybe it would be different for him/her (but really, YOU ARE NOT SPECIAL).  I gave Pat the address for sites like Third Tier Reality & BIDER  & all the ones on the left, encouraging Pat to do some more research before eating a bullet going to school.

Then, I asked Pat if he/she knew what fundamental attribution error was and Pat told me "No, what's that?" (giving me a pretty good indicator of what Pat's chances for "success" would likely be).  I said I had to go back to studying and Pat sighed and admitted:

0L: "Thanks for the info and all but I just don't want to work here for the rest of my life..."






This is Jack/My horrified expression at what Pat just said.

Fight Club: "Maybe self-improvement isn't the answer...Maybe self-destruction is the answer." 


So where the hell did this "education" myth come from and why did we believe it?

Fight Club: "My father never went to college so it was really important I go to college. After college, I called him long distance and said, now what? My dad didn't know, so he 
said get a job. When I got a job and turned twenty-five, long distance, I said, now what? My dad didn't know, so he said, get married. I'm a thirty year-old boy."


 
I've said before that my generation, and I'm generally speaking of anyone under 40, finds itself in a world created by the Baby Boomers (Although, Post-WWII French philosophers made the same observation: we all begin life in media res of a world not of our own making).  In Fight Club, the reasons given are consumerism, absent father figures, feminism, and pretty much civilization itself.


When the Baby Boomers were coming of age, they found themselves with the "1950's Leave It to Beaver" world and many stifled under it (although to defend "the Greatest Generation," I think they may have fucking earned it after surviving the great depression and defeating the Nazis and Japanese Empires).  The difference between US and the spoiled, ungrateful, narcissistic Baby Boomers forerunners is they actively changed the world around them.  Many sociologists pinpoint the catalyst as a counterculture which criticized/destroyed/condemned the proffered societal model (*See dirty hippies--a watered down, mainstream version of Beat philosophy & values, which was really just an American modernization/reinterpretation of European Romantics). 

Just as we, the Craplennial Generation, have movies like Fight Club expressing the zeitgeist, I fucking hate that overused phrase but it's apropos, they had movies like The Graduate or Rebel Without a Cause that encapsulated their sense of ennui/listlessness/blah blah blah. *Sidenote, I exclude the Civil Rights, Women's Rights, and a lot of other ethnic/cultural/lifestyle equality movements from this discussion although that's the first thing a Baby Boomer will always jump to in defense of their generation...well that or 'Nam.  Speaking of which, a big Fuck you to the Baby Boomers who went through the experience of that war then decided to double down in the Middle East with the lives of my generation & friends based on a lie to quote Patton Oswalt).

The key difference is that
The Baby Boomers weren't charged an arm and a leg and a firstborn child nearly as much money and go into financial ruin huge amounts of debt to get their "education"(whereas many of us only have that option).  They actually got to live out their lives the way they wanted.  Starting out with a small amount of debt, which I guess at this point would be under 50K, or even no debt is a gigantic advantage.  Taking a job for 30K-40K in today's world without any debt is doable, but if you've got 100K or more you're going to be struggling to pay off just the interest or make payments for 20 years or more.  At least with a mortgage we got some physical object, but to have a shackle on your mind?  That's some far out shit (*See Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron).


We're Marley & Marley! oOOOoooOOOO!

Every Baby Boomer I've talked with about this subject has a religious zeal for "education" that's highly subjective and hard to exactly pin down value-wise.  There's a numerical designation sure, but with Baby Boomers it goes far beyond the $$$ in many instances.  Also, almost every Baby Boomer I've talked to seems incredulous about my criticism and or questioning of the value of higher ed in today's world.  Something gets lost in the generational translation.  The Baby Boomers also grew up in a vastly different time/global marketplace & their lessons and advice are largely irrelevant (I can just hear some Baby Boomers saying, "It worked for me! You just didn't work hard enough, have enough talent, blah blah blah."  *See fundamental attribution error before you make an ass of yourself by expressing your thoughts).


Want some ridiculously overpriced soap? How bout an education?

Our generation was pushed towards higher education by a lot of different vectors/strategies/lies and we're paying the true cost right now.  Higher Ed was also encouraged with huge stigmas about the kind of people the Baby Boomers considered "losers."  You know, the ones who didn't drink the Kool Aid don't have a shiny degree but maybe have a vocational job or something (unless of course they end up filthy fucking rich at which point their lack of higher ed becomes a bragging point, see Branson, Gates, etc.).

Education is still the Baby Boomers Robitussin solution for solving a problem, in fact Obama did it the other day and then pretty much gave a platitude in response to this (otherwise how could universities like Kaplan, DeVry, Phoenix, and others rake in so much money selling the myth?).  Chris Rock's joke about Robitussin is that it's ridiculous to use as a cure all for the maladies he lists, whereas we don't see Higher Education equally ridiculous.  Formalized, institutional education may be bullshit critical/important for many reasons...but life experience, working, and learning OUTSIDE of the classroom is what really counts just as important.  Apparently, many "experts" agree!

If I heard the following from Zero Lemmings I'd be far less critical:

"I'm going to/went to law school to learn about the law out of intellectual curiosity/the experience itself as part of my larger existential search for truth and meaning via learning."


BUT I DON'T HEAR ANYONE TELL ME THAT.  A very small minority of people go to college for that kind of reason, everyone else goes to get more money, or a "career," etc.


At this point, Anyone considering higher ed, whether it be law school, doctoral programs, what have you, needs a mental/perceptual chemical burn before proceeding...




The cruel, absurdst irony of it all is that after grabbing onto the "magical key" for all it's worth and more than we could afford, we ended up even more stuck than before.  So I ask again, What Now?

Can you blame people for dreaming?  No.  Can you blame people for hoping for a better life?  Absolutely not, I encourage it.  Can you question the strategy/plan/illusions that a person has when making those decisions so as to prevent them from making mistakes they will pay for, probably, for the rest of their lives when an alternative route could have brought them just as much happiness, freedom and meaning?  Isn't it immoral not to?


*Sidenote, like Freud & Marx before him, Tyler Durden's cultural observations may have been spot on but, also like Freud & Marx, his conclusions/solutions and the philosophy underlying them is so blatantly ludicrous as to be self defeating to any "educated" reader (i.e., someone who has more than an elementary education should have known better).  The scariest after-effect of movie version only since no one has read the book besides ironically self-aware hipsters  Fight Club is the copycat behavior from people who clearly missed the point of the story.  Anyone who wants to emulate Tyler Durden is trying to be a sociopath, you might as well aspire to be Jack the Ripper. You can effect change without the violent, destructive, anarchistic revolution he proposes (see Gandhi, Walesa, MLK, Steinham, etc., etc.).


Till next time, let's hold hands and watch the inevitable collapse readjustment!


5 comments:

  1. I love it.

    Grad school is an act of self destruction. Spend the 100k on cigarettes, alcohol, and cocaine - you'll get pretty much the same outcome.

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  2. Demosthenes, you sure know how to use imagery to complement your hard-hitting writing style. It is funny that you mention Fight Club and the scam-blogs. There are some definite similarities. For instance, I definitely suffer from ennui/angst/general dissatisfaction. I can see that in the writing of some of the other bloggers.

    I also don't vote - I see it as a pointless activity. (Who cares which agents temporarily hold elective office? WHAT MATTERS is WHO is moving the chess pieces.) That sure as hell will not change via "the democratic process." We live in a corporate kleptocracy, and in a reality not of our own making. Ralph Nader points out that "we all grew up corporate."

    We have ingrained with the idea - since infancy! - that higher education = financial and personal success. This is clearly not the case. As a result, most Americans think that the best way to achieve "upward mobility" is to attain advanced degrees.

    On a related note, many racial minorities think that they can break into "The Club" via higher education. This is not the case - except for a very few. You can speak their language, get the credentials, act like the elite, etc. and in the end, you will simply internalize their beliefs and grow to hate yourself. Even those minorities who do crack Biglaw, land in top government posts, or get into top corporate jobs are typically the first to be fired. They also serve one other useful function for the power elite: when things go to hell, these people are often the scapegoats. (Or they are sent out to run spin control for their respective corrupt/morally bankrupt employer.)

    Big firms, government agencies, NGOs and corporate entities like having brown, red, yellow and black faces around PRIMARILY so they can say, "Look, we value diversity in our workplace!!" And, yet the carnage goes on. No one even blinks an eye over this reality, any more.

    News flash, Lemmings: YOU WILL NOT BECOME PART OF THE BIG CLUB. In order to do that, you need some amazing skill that completely sets you apart. Or you need to simply be part of the business/political/social elite, to begin with.

    We are each dying a little each day - organically and spiritually. This is why I do what I do. I will not stop swinging at the industry, until my knuckles can no longer take it.

    The next time I hear someone say that they want to go to law school, I will interpret that to mean: "I want you to hit me as hard as you can."

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  3. In the americans cultural religion, we are not allowed to question higher education or the Constitution.

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  4. Default your student loans. Can't collect blood from a stone.

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  5. I was looking for other's thoughts about Fight Club and came upon this delightful piece of writing. I still think many of the references in the movie are linked to violence, abuse of children, abuse of power, using human fat to make soap, the holocaust, torturing children, or employees, or students, objectifying others in an effort to satisfy drives. When those children...employees...students...ever find a voice, it's unrecognized, split off, unconscious, and destructive. See girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
    Anonymous Baby Boomer

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