lundi, novembre 07, 2005

Causational Buoyancy

I've noticed something. Actually, its something that I've noticed for quite awhile. Since I'm a word person, I decided to come up with my own phrase and definition for it. I currently live in Manhattan in a predominately white area surrounded by white people of means. And I've noticed that a good deal of them (but not all) have this sort of look. I call this look causational buoyancy (it can also be referred to as BRWIA --"blitheness as a result of being wealthy and white in America"-- or the Gene Kelly syndrome -- via Singin' in the Rain). Causational Buoyancy is defined as a condition precipitated by a person's emotional, mental, financial, and racial (namely white/Caucasian) background whereby that person exists in a state of "perpetual blitheness". This condition has several characteristics:
  • The white person in question has a facial expression characterized by sheer jocundity and buoyancy. S/he has a face with a pronounced smile even though there is nothing funny going on around that person, his or her eyes are bright and full of carefree freedom, and the facial muscles are very relaxed.
  • His or her walk is characterized by a light leap or a skip as one proceeds down the street. This skip is not overt but rather tacit, underlying his or her overall countenance.
  • He or she almost never has a lot of bags. Men who exhibit causational buoyancy never have any extra accoutrements and women only have a purse that is, at its biggest, medium in size.
  • This person is usually aged 35 and up though I have seen younger people who exhibit these characteristics.
  • S/he is usually dressed in casual yet chic attire, that has one or two indications of possible wealth though it is not pronounced: a Rolex, a designer purse, etc.
  • S/he almost always walks alone and is RARELY seen with children. (Though it can happen).

This phenomenon interests me because I am firstly not white or wealthy and secondly because I am in awe of this state of being. Though I am fully aware that you can never know what is going on in someone's life or the totality of that person's circumstances through an at a best cursory glimpse of that person walking down the street, I am nonetheless intrigued by the overflowing emanating power of this sense of a carefree existence that I can see through these individuals.

I believe the great James Baldwin said, " To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time". And I couldn't agree more. Though I must say that I live a life that is by any standard good ---I have a great apartment, a promising albeit burgeoning writing career, good health, youth, a loving family, a stellar educational background --- I still have to deal with my share of racism, sexism, and the like on a daily basis, not to mention the global atrocities that effect people of color and women.

So I could not characterize my state of being as blithe. But these white people that I see (whom I can almost definitely though not definitely characterize as wealthy) appear to be as "carefree" as a human being can be. What must it be like to live in a vacuum of whiteness and wealth that protects you from the trappings of poverty, no access to healthcare, racism, etc. precisely because one is white and wealthy!!! I call it causational buoyancy because the state of being white and wealthy in America causes the "buoyancy" in question. Class and Race is intimately and intrigrally related to this condition, though I must state that not all wealthy and white people inhabit this condition, only a select slice. What a feeling it must be, to be so comfortable and engrossed in your own situation that the on-goings of those either in proximity to you or a world away do not effect your bubble!

Carefree...I don't know if its possible for me to ever reach that plane. Sure the perks are incredible and the standard of living is prime. But there have to be costs and I would say that those costs have to be quite large. As I often say "It must be nice..." to live a life where no one's pain or injustice seeps through to your state of living, but then again, I don't know if I'd ever want to.

"I have only one solution: to rise above this absurd drama that others have staged around me"
----- Franz Fanon