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  •  Nomads begin life as an unwanted generation, (none)
    in many cases left to fend for themselves and each other as they're coming age. The upshot is that they have a great deal of freedom as young people, and end up tough, adventurous and independent. The downside is that they come up against the iron fist of (hypocrtical) prophet moralism, and increasingly authoritarian criminal justice policies. Many nomads are driven to madness by the hardships they face, and end up alcoholics, or addicts. Suicide is epidemic among them.

    The lost generation (for instance) went to Paris, saw on the world on steamships (like Eugene O'Neill), hunted in Africa, and fought in the first world war. They were writers and artists and bootleggers and gangsters. Many ended up dead or in prison. Many losts, from F Scott Fitzgerald to Dashiell Hammett, drank themselves to death. Many others, from Hemingway to Hart Crane, killed themselves less slowly.

    At every life stage, nomads get the short end of the stick. Losts didn't enjoy the bulk of the spoils of the 1910s and 20s boom, anymore than generation x enjoyed the bulk of the spoils of the 1980s and 1990s boom. Losts suffered disproportionately in the great depression, and xers are likely to suffer disproportionately from a possible (if not probable) global economic meltdown in the coming years. Nomads of the liberty generation (from George Washington to John Adam) were the principal architects of this country's constitution and nationhood, and losts were the principal architects of the post war economic and international order, but both generations received the smallest share of the credit.

    As they age, nomads disappear more quickly and totally from the culture and society than any other generational type. Many die in obscurity and poverty, even infamy, despite their accomplishments and sacrifices for both the younger and older generations. Only a handful of people attended the funeral of Thomas Paine, and most of those were free African-Americans.

    Despite the deprivation of parental affection when they're young, nomads tend to idealize and sentimentalize their youth, always longing for a kind of lost eden. Think of Brett Easton Ellis's "Less Than Zero," and all those young xers wanting to "go back." When they are young, nomads are the beautiful people, hard and vulnerable. It will never be that good for us again.

    "Obsessed by a fairy tale, we spend our lives searching for a magic door and a lost kingdom of peace." Eugene O'Neill

    by thebluenomad on Tue Oct 11, 2005 at 09:00:06 PM PDT

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