Number 6 - The Lost Generation. Jonathan Reed

This week we delve into a poem by a young poet named Jonathan Reed. Perhaps this is less traditional philosophy and more aligned with cultural identity and society's viewpoints, however, I think its a good one to have a discussion about. I'll let you discover the trick to this poem, as it's very well constructed (the clue is at the end).

I am part of a lost generationand I refuse to believe thatI can change the worldI realize this may be a shock but“Happiness comes from within.”is a lie, and“Money will make me happy.”So in 30 years I will tell my childrenthey are not the most important thing in my lifeMy employer will know thatI have my priorities straight becauseworkis more important thanfamilyI tell you thisOnce upon a timeFamilies stayed togetherbut this will not be true in my eraThis is a quick fix societyExperts tell me30 years from now, I will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of my divorceI do not concede thatI will live in a country of my own makingIn the futureEnvironmental destruction will be the normNo longer can it be said thatMy peers and I care about this earthIt will be evident thatMy generation is apathetic and lethargicIt is foolish to presume thatThere is hope.And all of this will come true unless we choose to reverse it


Benjamin Broadbent said...

Philosophical poems that predict peril procure a plethora of ponderable perceptions. Per contra, parallel parables precisely presage precious payoffs, provisary of perspective.
niranjannewlands Jun 27, 2015
I think what this poem is talking about is that each generation is 'lost', or basically hopeless in one person's perspective but optimistic in another person's point of view. I think here are actually two ways to look at every generation - the previous generation's point of view (it's all bad) and the next generation's point of view (we should become like them). This is precisely what the poem is pointing at.

Think about our generation (1997s and onwards). Many things happened here - the rise of the public internet, for example. The previous generation thinks this is a bad thing, while the next generation will probably praise us for doing something so revolutionary. It works for our previous generations too: Many old people revolted against the Industrial Revolution for taking away jobs, putting focus on technology rather than nature, etc. But we now believe that they did something revolutionary. (Damn, I need a thesaurus.)

Just like that, there are two ways to read this poem: up-to-down (the previous generation) and down-to-up (the next generation). That's what I think makes this poem so profound.

Also, I ante any animal to advance my aforementioned alliteration.

Benjamin Broadbent said...

All Alliterations Are Awesome!
KaydenBorchowsky Jun 27, 2015
It seems as if I got a different message from the poem then what appears to be the one discussed in the comments. To me this poem is about how any scenario can be looked at in two ways. Good or bad.
It reminds me of a parable (I think thats the right word (come to think of it this poem is sort of a parable)) that I was told when I was still in primary school. It was about a Man who came to a foreign country with only his dog, chicken, oil lamp and a tiny amount of money. He tried to talk his way into getting a room at an Inn, but was told the entire place was booked. He was forced to sleep outside, in a field with grass up to his neck. Not long after he lay down his oil lamp went out, he sighed and continued to try to sleep. Later that same night his chicken wondered off, the man went to look for it and found it dead, lying on the ground with a broken neck. The same thing happened to his dog. Depressed the man lay down and somehow managed to go to sleep. In the morning he woke up and found the entire city had been raided by pirates. Everyone was either dead or wounded. He would have suffered from the same fate if he had gotten a room at the Inn, if his lamp was still alight, if his chicken or dog had made a sound. It turns out that all of the 'horrible' things that happened to him through out the night, saved his life. It was his view that made them appear horrible.
This is the same with the poem. Most people read it and their initial view is that its sad and depressing, (this was certainly the case for me) but then, if they get the message, they realise that it is a poem of hope. How there is no such thing as a lost generation, how we can change the world. There are two different ways you can view this poem. This is the same for any scenario. If your chicken dies in the middle of the night, you might just survive the pirates raid on you city. If you find that your phone is out of battery, you might miss the call from that friend who likes to talk for hours. Never be so quick to judge a situation. Just like what we were taught by Jules Evan.
Even though it might not feel like it, it is your choice to feel happy or sad. I, personally, like to choose happy.

Benjamin Broadbent said...

Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids
BT2015 Jun 25, 2015
Hey, hey,hey.
This poem is splendid. Yes, yes, yes I know I’m a maths teacher; I’m allowed to get enthusiastic about poetry. Kapow! (Onomatopoeia….Check)
My first thought was to the poor souls who read it once, got depressed, and went “oh what a pointless pessimistic poetry peice” (alliteration…. Check). It made me think about the kind of people that ‘get’ the fact you have to reverse it. I like these people, they get invites to my jollifications ((that’s right, I’m kind of a walking dictionary (metaphor…. Check)). (Whoa triple brackets; I haven’t seen that since maths)) These people also have permission to hang out in my B12 fort. I’m currently posting the poem on Facebook and thinking of unfriending the people who don’t ‘get’ the poem; to be done as ruthlessly as an executioner (simile…. Check) Why? Because we want thinkers in our world, we need thinkers, people who see the world differently, who are not afraid to challenge the accepted norm- the people who look for the wonder, the message and the purpose in all that exists. How do we become these people? We learn. Knowledge of traditional subjects fused with a sense of purpose to help future generations, is the key to a successful generation. So minions, my message from this comment is so: Keep learning, keep exploring, keep challenging yourself, never stop. I didn’t start pushing my own learning until I was a 19 year old and since then I haven’t stopped. Heck, who spends their free evenings going to public neuroscience lectures? Me! Why? Why not, it has got to beat watching that rubbish on your unconscious TV (personification…. Check). Keep looking for the opportunities peeps, travelling, learning, and meeting new people and you will be a million times more successful than me (hyperbole….Check).

Now it is time for a maths poem.
A poem
It soon grew
You’ll note it gets bigger
By the word sum of the previous two.
Then I started to worry at these words appearing with such high frequency
Because as you can see, it can be easy to run out of space when a poem gets all Fibonacci Sequency.

KaydenBorchowsky Jun 27, 2015
Great poem Mr Broadbent!

Benjamin Broadbent said...

Penguins propose with a pebble.
lilly_zhang Jun 24, 2015
When I first heard this, I was in year 6. I listened to this in class, and thought. I went home and rewatched it, then thought about it a little more. At the time, the words made less sense, but the gist was clear enough (not to mention I was amazed at the whole reverse idea of the poem). The generation this writer was from was changing the world, and unless something was done, it would all go downhill. Flash-forward to now, and those thoughts are still with me (part of it spiralled into a somewhat one-sided debate in Social Studies at one point).

There are two sides to this poem, depending on perspective. Do you have hope in society, humanity, or us? Or do you believe we will be the ones to light a fuse that destroys what made us? Our society is fickle, and collectively, we’re indecisive if majority and democracy is eradicated and we all have to make a unanimous decision.

Do I hold hope in the future? If yes, is it foolish to? This poem, when read downwards, describes a world where our jobs mean more than our families, and love sounds more like an illusion that wears over time, until rose-tinted glass becomes clear. A grey world where being materialistic and lacking emotions is common, until our only care is what is inside our wallets, and they’ll run Workaholics Anonymous before we know it.

Reading upwards makes a world where it gets better. We can save the world from its impending doom, and keep families together again. We’d value what we can’t hold, rather than what we can. Where we tell our future generations that they matter more than anything else.

So again, I’ve had the first view in my mind for a while, though it’s mainly just the environmental destruction. Growing up in New Zealand, it seems like Earth is fine. Green grass, clear skies, clean water, more sheep than people… and then you’ll go somewhere like China, where pollution is a norm, grey skies aren’t uncommon, and gardens get harder to find… or, at least, where I went it was. I can’t speak for the whole country, but it wasn’t the best. There’s even a joke about the polluted air (my mum told it to me in Chinese), which is a little something like, “A man from Beijing goes to Tibet. He inhales the air, and is amazed at how clean it is. Then, without warning, he collapses. An ambulance is called, and they do what they can to resuscitate him. One of them asks where the man is from, and they find out he is from Beijing. The ambulance worker then turns on the van, hooks a breathing mask to the back of the van where the fumes are coming out, and puts the mask on the man’s face. The man wakes up in seconds.” It isn’t precisely like this, since I’ve had to remind myself how it goes then translate it, but you get the gist, though, to be fair, my mum also joked that the air in China pretty much helped her hayfever as well (or it could just be the lack of nature???).

Benjamin Broadbent said...

Also, yes, this poem was published a few years ago, but I do believe that we are spiralling downwards. In Social Studies last year, we studied the Amazon rainforest and how it was still being illegally logged, destroying the habitats of wildlife there and endangering them. The penguins in Antarctica might not be around next time David Attenborough wants to do a documentary on them (or anyone, for that matter) since the icebergs and the land itself is melting due to global warming, raising the sea levels with it. That’s a little bit of a hyperbole, since I doubt the destruction that quickly, but phytoplankton also require the ice to thrive, and the food chain starts with them. What if we can’t stop the loss? Should we get ready to wave goodbye to our feathered friends?

Moving away from pessimistic opinions, I think the poem itself is brilliant. The fact it has two meanings is amazing, and again, mind-blowing at first glance. It showcases not only that we’re falling, but that we can catch ourselves as well, showing that with hope comes a chance for a better tomorrow. I guess, then, with all that’s said and done, is the question of whether we will make it happen or if we let the opportunity slip through our hands. Our society focuses so much more on internal problems within humanity like sickness, or consciousness, but not enough is being done about the world around us.

It’s nice looking out the window at night and seeing the moon and the stars, and as long as they aren’t covered, I’d say there is hope.

Benjamin Broadbent said...

Johnathan Reed's Mustache
MalithBatuwantudawe Jun 24, 2015
Johnathan Reed's plea for us to change our ways is effective because it makes us fully aware of our faults.
I think we change our bad values and actions before we are the point of no return.
But who is he talking to? -
Reed looks like an older gentleman (gray hair) - I think he is talking about his own generation (oldies) that has already been brainwashed into a hopeless life and telling us (younger generation) to prevent. He artfully combines his past, present and future into good poem.

Benjamin Broadbent said...

And I refuse to believe that Apple can change the world
niranjannewlands Jun 19, 2015
Hah - good one. You literally reverse the poem.

It is foolish to presume that
My generation is apathetic and lethargic
It will be evident that
My peers and I care about the earth...

and so on. I have no words except to say except that John Reed is a genius.