(applause from the peanut gallery
) Ok, ok, looks like I've questioned another obvious concept again. What's your name, smartass, they call. Look it up in Births, Deaths and Marriages
. Take a brain scan, Jack, and tell me what's up in the cerebral cortex. You're too old to be having a teenage identity crisis
, hell you're 21.
So you take a conglomeration of cells, add some protein and some other wonderful magic fluids, add the spark of life and out pops a little bundle of joy which lives, breathes, thinks, orders takeaway pizza and hold the anchovies. That's me, ladies and gentleman, the talking, dancing spawn of the earth.
But let's not get metaphysical here, let's contain the argument a little. Let's set some boundaries so that the discussion doesn't get down to who started the Big Bang in the first place (ok, it was Cheryl, but who cares. Yeah you know she had three kids after that and the husband left and she's on the dole now. Like the rest of us. Not such a big bang anymore, eh?).
What I'm talking about here is - what's my culture?
I looked at my plate tonight. I was eating a stir-fry lasagna. Ok, I wasn't, but theoretically I could have been. You see, I have been feeling recently that young Australians are multicultural, people who cross borders, don't take any notice of the customs of our families to the umpteenth generation. We're the cultural version of the primordial soup. We're mashed.
For dinner I regularly have an Italian pasta, tomorrow a Thai stir-fry, then re-fried rice and beans with some hot sauce from Mexico. I make Indian dahl with my flatmate and wash it down with some old English breakfast tea.
But it's more than that - I am not just what I eat. I am what I breathe - and I breathe Gandhi, Che Guevara, Naomi Klein, Radiohead and the Pixies. I am a walking talking mishmash of cultural opposites. I learned about free software from a Finnish guru named Linus Torvalds and how to spell my name from American children's television.
Time was, we knew who we were. We added hot chillies and made curries because the meat we were eating was rotting. We had brown skin, lived in houses made with mud bricks and worshipped a multi-faceted God. Or we ate oil with our lunchtime bread, beautiful olives and drank wine that our sons had trampled in the sun with their strong feet. We were one nation, one area, one people, one group with many faces. We had an identity, we were part of something.
But that's all changed - hasn't it? Now I take various parts of my personality and life from everywhere. I believe in a simplistic lifestyle without numerous material possessions - I took that from Buddhism. I believe in worker's rights and seek to challenge the ideas of the established government - I took that from Marx. I practise satyagraha (non-violent protest) from the words of Gandhi.
And I'm not alone.
It seems like we're all like this these days. We're not one group, we're not even one coherent person, and we're certainly not Australian. We're the twentysomethings who are all scared of having children - because we wouldn't exactly be sure; what it was we were supposed to teach them again? Oh that's right Toes Go In First. Damn I knew I had something to pass on to the next generation. Well at least they won't be walking around barefoot. As for identity formation, leave that to the quacks.
Everyone I know seems to identify with some culture to some extent, but only to a certain extent but you know they have this thing where their kids are forced to get married when they're thirteen so not everything matches up perfectly. You wouldn't find an Australian who claimed to identify wholely with another culture, for example, not so much that they would go to that country and live there permanently.
You would only find a bunch of Australians who take amounts of traditions from a varying amount of cultures and smash them all up into one life, mash it up with a egg-beater until it's a uniform rainbow streaked mud.
For example some people don't identify with family. Some do - you know in South America they have really close family communal life you know, I want my family to be like that, or nah, you know, I want to be an individual, you know the Americans are really big on that, if you want to strike out on your own you can.
Or marriage - for some it's a tradition that I have to hold to, my friends don't believe in it but I've always thought it was important, you know, it's such a cultural event, or nah, I don't see the point, I mean if you need a government permit to declare your love then count me out, you know?
So where does this leave us, the children of the jilted generation, the ones who have no culture of our own, but that which is thrust upon us, or that we choose? The Nintendo generation, the ones who grew up believing in a world where if you only just jumped a little bit earlier, you could have defeated Bowser and saved Princess Toadstool but if you only just found that secret area you could have had the purple Yoshi by now.
The Nintendo what? Half of us played Sega instead.
It leaves us as individuals, a community of people who just happen to be living in the same country but don't really share many common traditions, customs, morals, values or anything. We're confused from the start and it's only going to get worse. We're going to pass this whole mess on to our children, who'll have to deal with the whole lot plus our massive rate of divorce - doubly cursed.
Anyway, whatever, have a beer, mate, seeya s'arvo. At the barbie. You know, 'round Johnno's, after the footy. Yeah, the missus is putting on a feed. Hey heard Stu's up shit creek after they cut his dole. Yeah, anyway, who needs the bludgers. We look after our own.