Blog Post

Where have POSTINDUSTRIAL BOYS gone? By 2010

It was the year 1999.  It was in hot Phoenix, Arizona, when I wrote this poem.  It was a time when everybody was excited about the new age, where you could have gotten in touch with your friends on different continents through the Internet and low cost phone calls.  That was when we started to have many long distance relationships.  It was so incredible to be in Seattle and talk to your lover in Australia and your mom in Georgia and your sister in South Africa.    Soviet Communism was gone and 9/11 was not here yet.  It was a time of tranquility, happy tranquility at the peace conference in Phoenix.  I remember that year I went to see Fort Apache reservation and was confused and fascinated at the same time.   Modernism seemed not too far away, and it looked like all these ideals of freedom, and equality were not at all unachievable.  Especially if you were involved in non-committed, but beautiful relationships with people from different unexplored cultures, and if you were not watching too much TV—it was a time of joy.  The world was becoming smaller and I was learned so much every single day.  Daniel McFarland wrote his “Beastly Originated Human” in 1990s and Merab Ninidze made his magnificent Ananuri speech where he declared himself to be a “Born Again Humanist” or BAH as we called it later.  We sensed somehow that we would be thirsty for humanism soon, but that time we were still happy in this new brave world.  We were kind of filled with the uncanny expectation of a new millennium and thought that in Y2k  World is Not Gray.  I remember arguing with Michel Faucault in one of my essays around that time and casting my ballot for Anka Nijharadze—a symbol of hope in humanity.  I guess she was a symbol of our unending admiration of beautiful morning, the youth of humanity that is still looking serenity around a lake.   Then the year 2010 sounded so distant that I have promised my love to hit on her again, once, before 2010 came—it was so far—that it seemed funny.  In fact, many people thought that was amusing.

          Postindustrial boys
           have a wonderful voice,
           they read some James Joyce
           and make a careful choice.
           Postindustrial boys
           subscribe to Village Voice.
           They play with colored toys,
           and make an awful noise.
                         I shall hit on you again
                          before Two Thousand Ten.
                          But tell me, tell me when
                          will I have some time by then?
           I should love you once again,
           once again to be your man.
           Once again I’d love you tanned,
           and will worship you in sand.
           And I don’t want to be there,
           where the rules are not fair,
           and the Dow Jones average tells hypocrisy
           of postindustrial mediocrity.
                          I should love you again
                          before Two Thousand Ten.
                          I should be yours once again.
                          I wish I’ll be alive by then.
           My dear, I love you more than ever.
           This passion lasts through death forever.
           They tell me: be just cool and clever,
           But, that could never happen, never.
           Postindustrial boys
           subscribe to Village Voice.
           They buy some colored toys
           and make a careful choice.
                          In the desert of Arizona,
                          you don’t want to be a loner.
                          I would love you till my death,
                          till my last and painful breath.

So, here we are at the end of 2010.  This time has gone so fast.  I remember it like yesterday. I even remember the café where I was seating with Gina Bartlett reading her my new poems and thinking of the new century aloud together with her.  Phoenix looked so wonderful that evening. 

But, what happened since then?  Where have our postindustrial dreams led us and were am I today?  Did I find my Born Again Humanist Friend? 

Since then we got lost on the information highway.  Looking at and infinity of opportunities and finding emptiness.  “Keeping all options open”  and losing human relationships.  Calculating resumes and CVs and forgetting about human emotions.  We truly became different.  But which way did we go?  When the ‘industrial” age was coming to its end in 1989, during the non-violent revolutions in Soviet Union and Eastern bloc we had this idealized vision of freedom and equality.  Instead we saw wars, murders, deprivations, unemployment, and coming of the new bourgeois elite, that was partly comprised of old communist apparatchiks, partly of criminals, and partly of new careerist “young Human” breed.  This was the kind of human beings that I would even put below the worst criminals.

Our dreams were located in the airports, moving from one capital to another, first learning about them and being happy and later seeing the confusion of locals seeing so many immigrants from different countries, ready to take any job or any steal.  I remember when I started to work in postindustrial New York in 1991, there were a whole bunch of us, immigrants ready to work for much below minimum wage—for less than 4 bucks an hour just to survive and not to starve.  There were huge fights between different gang groups for illegal jobs or illegal activities, like stealing at Brighton Beach shops.  There were always tough guys there together with swindlers.  Almost everybody was breaking the law—but almost everybody was poor.  And this was the happy beginning of my post-industrial experiences. 

All my dreams and desires were to move “uptown”, like in Janis Joplin’s song to realize my American Dream that was so much advertised by all kinds of liar politicians.  I was fascinated by some of them at least and I believed in that dream.  So, from the world of petty criminals on the Brighton Beach I started to move “uptown”  in 1992.  First I started to work for a big radio station covering the UN.  The United Nations was a big dream and I still hope that one day the World Government can help the poor and the oppressed instead of helping the powerful, because it is ruled by powerful.  Then I went to work in Washington, DC—I was there in the Department of State.  I worked in different “Think-Tanks”, although I never understood if they were ever thinking and if I was ever thinking.  There were some wonderful people there.  Like my friend Margaret, who took us to see Ray Charles and introduced us to him.  It was truly a happy moment. 

But in the mid nineties I have already learned a new type of human being which I was required to be—bourgeois consumerist with a very materialist dream.  I was a liberal, but still was required to accept all the huge problems with people who were enslaved and starving.   We were preaching liberalism and going to different bordellos where we were using the services of women who were enslaved from poor countries or regions.   Some of those women were given heroin by force to get them addicted and to remain as slaves as long as they are young and once they became old they were no longer needed alive.  We, the liberal intelligentsia, knew about this, but preferred to live our petty bourgeois life, since we were so happy after the Washington Consensus.  We were happy with the “End of History” and were thinking about ourselves as last men of humanity.  We thought that Hegel’s dialectics was over and there was no parallel life.  We were somehow convinced that everyone was in this petty bourgeois dream world, where every move was carefully planned and everything should serve your resume.  In a way we became slaves to our resumes and careers—not knowing what we were doing.  Sure, we cheated ourselves that we worked for social justice, but in reality we were helping the system that was killing and enslaving more and more people.

Then, finally some people got very angry at us.  And they started to blow us up.  And we joined the “War on Terror” and we proudly established “1984” in the “Free World” saying that we had nothing to hide, since all our bourgeois dreams were so primitive and transparent that you did not need to even guess them.  We were the obedient post-industrial generation of primitive dreams where consumerism ruled the day and even art disappeared under the pressure of our faceless careerism.

And that is when I first started to think that maybe being a criminal is a much better thing than being a predictable nothingness that contributes to the miserable state of the world.   Perhaps our dreams and our desires were so miserable that even Frank Zappa could not save our souls. 

The more we went on airplanes more we started to worry about dying.  Time goes on and we are getting older.  Postindustrial Boys approached their 40s and they became bold.  Some of them died from drug overdose, some of them became incapable of working and most of us became incapable of being humans because of working too much for a miserable dream.

We have had handbooks on everything: how do we write our resume, how do we dress up for a job interview, how do we meet the right woman, how do we write an opinion column, what kind of restaurants do we visit to advance our career, how to masturbate to save more time for productive work, how to kiss up to our bosses, how to find more connections online and how to substitute real human friendship with “Networking”.  We were in those huge networks and it was almost impossible to get out of them.

Then we participated in a Revolution.  We were so happy to feel the air of change.  But change never came—instead it was more careerist, more bourgeois, more selfish dreams after this one more revolution—but we have refused to admit that human nature is such.  Still we listened to the debates of Foucault and Chomsky and were trying to be optimists.  Saying like Chomsky that human nature is creative—and maybe it really is creative.

Maybe we can do some wonderful things too.  In fact—I am sure we can do some wonderful things.  Indeed, I have never imagined that I would live to 2010 and I still love you, my dear and I want to spend my whole life with you.  I want to be a criminal for you, the criminal that would break the grey dreams and have something more than just bourgeois careerist life—life that is unexpected and full of surprises.  That is what we are created for.

In the desert of Arizona, You don’t want to be a loner.  And for that we shall persevere with breaking the ordinary, materialist dreams and become criminals—go against our own predictability.

I would love you till my death, till my last and painful breath.  Indeed, my dear.

Irakli Zurab Kakabadze's picture

Born in 1969, Irakli Kakabadze is a Georgian writer, performance artist, peace and human rights activist. His first prize was awarded in 1990 by the TSISTAKRI MAGAZINE for the best creation of 1990 - Allegro or Chronicle of one Year. In 2009, he was awarded the Oxfam/Novib PEN Freedom of Expression Prize. Kakabadze's articles and stories have been published in Georgian, Russian, and English newspapers and magazines. In 2007 he received the Lilian Hellman/Hammett grant from Human Rights Watch. From 2008 to 2012, Kakabadze was based in Ithaca, NY, where he developed a new method of integrating performing arts and social sciences, called "Rethinking Tragedy" or "Transformative Performance." Kakabadze has also pioneered a multi-lingual and multi-narrative performing style, called Polyphonic Discourse. Irakli Kakabadze's work as an artist-activist is subject of an American verite documentary At the Top of My Voice filmed by Indian American Director Sudhir Venkatesh and Larry Kammerman.
In May 2008 Kakabadze shared a stage at PEN World Voices Festival in New York with György Dragomán, Hasan Elahi, Asli Erdogan, Péter Esterházy, Chenjerai Hove, Jenny Marketou, Ivy Meeropol, Francine Prose, and Ingo Schulze, at the Writers and Artists Against the Surveillance State. In November 2008 at the Miami Book Fair Kakabadze shared a stage with Sarah Mkhonza, Russell Banks and Derek Walcott to perform another piece of Polyphonic Blues. Kakabadze has performed his polyphonic style of poetry at the Frankfurt Book Fair (2009) and “Free the Word” in London (2010) (23). At the 2010 “PEN World Voices” Festival in New York Kakabadze performed Polyphonic Discourse at the Cabaret Show that featured the author with Natalie Merchant, Ben Okri and Ariel Dorfman. He has performed at many literary and peace festivals including in Berlin (2014), Palma De Mallorca (2016), Valencia (2016), ext. His book 'Umberto vs Ernesto' or 'Marginal Delirium' was published and has introduced polyphonic discourse in December 2013. In 2017 publishing house 'Intelekti' has published another book of his essays "Love Doctrine" that is highly influenced by the works of Mahatma Gandhi.