Archive for April, 2009


April 29, 2009

Like many people my age, I’m trapped in the anxious position of post graduate malaise and unemployment.

There’s actually a word for this uncomfortable stage of life: “waithood”:

After graduating from school, meaningful employment opportunities are few and far between, thus affecting other areas of the transition to adulthood, including access to affordable housing, credit, and the ability to marry and form families. When a young person is unable to make a smooth transition to adulthood, he or she is undergoing “waithood”.

In the form of an unemployment spell, waithood can last for several years. The young person lacks information about where he or she is heading and is unable to have a clear sense of what the future might hold. When waiting is accompanied with uncertainty, waithood causes young people to waste their time instead of making the most of their transition periods.
Middle East Youth Initiative

Although the term was originally applied to youth (شباب) in the MENA region, in the context of global economic depression recession, it describes the situation of disaffected shabab all across the world.

But we are not just uncertain. We are also angry.

We’re angry at a society that lied told us a decent job was just a matter of working hard in school and getting good grades.

We’re angry at student loan companies for gouging us with high interest rates.

We’re angry at a government that has no problem “bailing out” multinational banks but won’t “bail out” its own people.

We’re pissed.

So take notice. Because if we get angry enough, we will take to the streets. It happened in Greece. It happened in Iceland.

Why not here?


The Psychic Nomad Manifesto

April 22, 2009

What is a psychic nomad?

Very simply, the psychic nomad has no fixed frame of reference, no stable identity, no permanent home. Psychic nomadism is drifting across different mental and cultural “landscapes”. Physical nomadism can bring about psychic nomadism and vice versa; they are mutually reinforcing. People who travel extensively tend to become psychic nomads and psychic nomads, in turn, tend to travel extensively.

Psychic nomadism is subversive. From a Romantic perspective, the psychic nomad is a “citizen of the world”; from a Totalitarian perspective, the psychic nomad is a “rootless cosmopolitan” whose loyalty is always suspect.

Some people choose psychic nomadism, others have it thrust upon them by circumstances. Political refugees, who are unable to return to their homes, may find themselves forced into the role of psychic nomad. The state of exile itself becomes a home.

To some extent, all of us are psychic nomads. Psychic nomadism results from the experience of “everything solid melting into thin air.” The postmodern world makes Ulysses of us all, while denying the possibility of an Ithaca.

From one perspective, we might say that home is nowhere; from another, home is everywhere.

Psychic nomadism is ambiguous. It might refer to the mind’s tortured, aimless drift from object to object, commodity to commodity, without ever finding lasting satisfaction; or it might refer to the freedom from all fixed references, static illusions and rigid dogmas. Psychic nomadism can be a compulsive neurosis or a graceful dance. It can be samsara, but it can also be the “free and easy wandering” of Zhuangzi.

Our ancestors were nomads long before we invented agriculture and became sedentary. In some corners of the world, this way of life is still actively preserved, while in others one still finds echoes of a more nomadic time. In a strange way, the postmodern psychic nomad mimics the premodern hunter-gatherer.