curses! my hubris has undone me again...
i like chuck klosterman. at late-night sociology "meetings," i've ranted that few cultural sociologists have produced anything as knowing as sex, drugs, and cocoa puffs, his low-culture manifesto. now the ex-north dakota ubergeek is one prolific ex-north dakota ubergeek. at an airport last week i found him loitering around the back pages of three magazines. in spin, he identifies a moment -- october 1991 -- when nirvana's nevermind had just shipped to retailers yet metal royalty still held court on the magazine's cover. it is a funny piece, but what struck me was klosterman's riff on hubris. everyone on top is probably "overrated" by definition, but it must be tempting for such folks to believe that they will remain overrated forever. here's klosterman:
"no one saw Nirvana coming in the autumn of 1991, and neither did this magazine. Or it probably wouldn't have put Metallica on the cover. The cover image is actually a great photo of Metallica, mostly because they're all laughing like stoned hyenas. "Ha ha ha," Lars Ulrich seems to be saying. "We are invincible. Metal shall rule the '90s. Our band will never need psychological counseling and we would certainly not film it if we did. There is no way anyone will ever create a file-sharing technology that will allow people to hear our music without rendering proper payment. We're at least as good as Rush."
hubris is a funny thing. we generally don't see what's coming until it is far too late. i'm sure that lars ulrich and the lads are doing just fine these days. and who knows whether it was hubris? they could have been thinking anything in that '91 photo shoot:
lars: "billy crystal was so funny in city slickers"
james: "not as funny as silence of the lambs!"
kirk: "ha, ha, ha -- you guys crack me up!"
jason: "i can't believe i'm in freakin' metallica..."
for me at least, the column was a useful reminder that the cool stuff in 2005 is pretty unlikely to be considered the cool stuff in 2019. this likely holds for science as well as culture. so whose nevermind is shipping tonight? don't look back, something might be gaining on you...