Thursday, February 11, 2010




: marked by the view that all is for the best in this best of possible worlds : excessively optimistic

i had, over the last decade or so, gotten into a habit of referring to myself as a "cynical optimist." i thought this was witty and spot-on—a title that expressed i understood how fucked up the world is, but i wasn't letting it get me down.

but the more i said it, the more i felt like a phony. it's a pretty weak term to stand behind. i'm negative and positive. what does that mean? it's an oxymoron. it means that you want to be cool enough to call yourself a cynic yet you can't!

on the topic of generation X, Chuck Klosterman comments: Our whole demographic was comprised of cynical optimists. Whenever my circa-1993 friends and I would sit around and discuss the future, there was always the omnipresent sentiment that the world was on the decline, be we were somehow destined to succeed individually.

i feel like this may be the second step in a series away from cynicism. i was pretty cynical at a certain point. let's go ahead and call that junior high school. after that, i passed through many years of the idealism Klosterman above suggests—a realization that the world is fucked up, but a hope and understanding that i somehow float above all of that fucked-up-ness. hence, the term.

now i am in another phase. will i go as far as calling it PANGLOSSIAN? not quite yet. in my mind, optimism comes first and is accompanied by a nice, opaque set of blinders. i feel like one must pass through the various states of cynicism to get to genuine optimism, perhaps of the PANGLOSSIAN variety.

on the phone with joe last night, we talked a bit about this. we decided that we are now in a phase of post-cynicism, during which you realize how fucked up things are, you hope for the best, AND you think the whole process is totally hilarious.

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