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Cold Iron consists of random bits of irreverence, surliness, and contumely; sometimes it's even funny. Reading it is entirely optional.

...the iron monger and rusticater himself


Cool Iron
(archive)

"Never hit someone over the head with a hot iron. Wait until it cools so you don't burn them."

...the source of my ideas

The Gap

July 1, 2018

The Gap
Sometimes those things that divide us are also the things that unite us, and thatís not always good.
Ever since I was a kid Iíve heard the phrase ďgeneration gap,Ē as though this was something new and that, prior to some time-X, all people, young and old, were as homogeneous as a bottle of milk. Even today the phrase resonates if only because we see ourselves as socially, politically, and culturally a bit of a jigsaw puzzle. So I thought Iíd dig into it a little bit.
Itís easy to say that the boomers invented a new form of music and that everything that has followed has been derivative hooey. The real point, though, is that our country, from the very young to the very old, is hooked on music. Whether we use ear buds or vinyl LPís or subscribe to a myriad of music services, or attend any of the hundreds of, usually massive, music festivals, itís hard to find someone who doesnít like music in some genre or other and who isnít exposed to it frequently during an average day. Any alleged gap between young and old is probably only a matter of taste.
Itís pretty widely believed that there is a big gap in that the boomers have seen that safety net programs such as Social Security and Medicare Ė among the better pieces of legislation passed in the last century Ė do work, whereas thereís a large cohort of the young who think that those programs will either not exist for them or be so minimal that survival in their elder years will largely be a hugely personal and hugely expensive matter and something they may not even be able to adequately prepare for. That gap, though, might only be a bit of a lack of faith. This country is not going to abandon its elderly, not now, not in the future. Alleged problems in those programs are easily fixable, but, as is our wont, they wonít be fixed until they reach some crisis point.
One could say that there is a gap in that the boomers never had to worry about school shooters. Itís a shame anybody has to worry about that, but the boomers had to worry about nuclear war, about polio, about being drafted into a war, about AIDS, about inflation. What bridges the gap, of course, is that we are all united in fear, and that might not be good.
The young, it might be said, are all hooked on screens while the boomers sit there with their books and newspapers. The implication here is that the young live in a high-tech world and the boomers donít. Not sure about that. I suspect there are few boomers who donít have a cellphone (while, yes, keeping the landline), a laptop or PC, a smart TV, or a navigation system on their Buicks. They may not know who Siri or Alexa are, but they have long had a friend in Google.
As for those books and newspapers, it seems we are all united in doing very little ďtraditionalĒ reading anymore. Just ask the writers and journalists and struggling publishers and newspapers and magazines (or consult the numerous surveys and sales statistics that bear this out).
Politics, of course, can be a big gap maker. I think thereís a perception that the young are open to change and new ways of doing things and the older populations are not, and that, while the young may be liberal or conservative, the elders are all conservative Republicans. That, of course, is untrue, but more importantly, our social fabric has been so shredded by the politics of selfishness that those distinctions seem meaningless. The politics of young and old are now determined by issues and not ideology. You are your views on Trump or immigration or gun control or abortion or climate change or trade, which means the gaps among us have little to do with deep-seated beliefs about the nature of the American experience and everything to do with whatever is pushing your buttons at the moment.
We are united, too, in anger. No longer do we put our differences up on the block of reason and argue our way through them. Rather, we seek consensus, as though a popular vote can make an invalid viewpoint valid. We demean our opponents and call them names. We try to negate their positions by digging up dirt on their character and highlighting lapses, no matter how minor, in past behaviors. We slam logic as being a biased tool of the opposition. We seem to have developed ridicule as an art form and no amount of slander is seen as too much. If youíre not with me, youíre not simply wrong: I hate you.
Thatís all I have to say about that.
G.K.Wuori © 2018
Photoillustration by the author

Selected Works

Novel
I think this book would appeal to anyone who likes a dark crime story set in a rural, somewhat remote part of Maine in a time when the radicalism of the nineteen-seventies was sweeping the country.
Ellen DeLay, an upstanding citizen of Quillifarkeag, Maine, suddenly and unpredictably leaves her happy, twenty-five year marriage for a lonely cabin deep in the Maine woods, where she makes a living dressing hunters' kill - bears, moose, deer. It seems an idyllic life, punctuated only now and then by rifle fire as she shoots into the air to scare off cheeky teens who come to taunt "the crazy woman."
Novella
A small-town lawyer in the middle of a gruesome murder case finds salvation in the world of a homeless woman and her daughter.
A young woman's morning walk through her small town finds her immersed in a small tragedy, an indifferent government, and the "science gone mad" of her best friend's husband. Quirky, goofy, nutty - yes, but a gentle look as well at some of the values that keep us from falling off the planet
Essay
A hint of generally true autobiography, this piece is part of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill's "How I Became A Writer" series.
Stories
Quillifarkeag is a state of mind, one marked by innocence and regret, by guile and sympathy. The people there will let you into their lives - but not very far. Go too far inside and things start to echo, people get close. Honesty becomes negotiable. Bare all and someone might still say, "Were you naked or nude?" It's an important distinction. In a small place like Quilli the naked truth is hurtful. The nude truth is not so bad.

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