The First Published Literature To Chronicle
Generation X, Version 2.0
Rich with symbolism, and capturing the true spirit of the age, it can clearly be argued that Walter Miller's Home Page is the best-written and most representative piece of literature for his generation in print today--perhaps the very first to define that new generation.
This fresh new paradigm of inter-generational sociology will be regarded in coming decades as the voice of its time. Walter is the Catcher in the Rye of his generation, whose ideal name might be: Generation X, Version 2.0, or Generation x.1. He is Holden Caulfield, Huckleberry Finn and perhaps Forrest Gump rolled into one. And what a story he has to tell.
The computer age, the generation it has bred, and the angst of younger-end twentysomethings are all captured in this riot of poor spelling and grammar. Through strong but never heavy-handed symbolism, our protagonist Walter weaves a first-person, stream of consciousness story of his life, (attached).
Woven within are vignettes of computer usage, popular issues and culture, and a measured dose of the latest technology and on-line trends. When the George Lucas of the next century is researching background color for the American Graffiti-equivalent that is to be a period piece of the late 1990s, Walter Miller will be at the top of the must-read list of that era.
The fact that this monumental work first appears in published form on the World Wide Web is symbolic in itself. Walter's misunderstood age group of tail-end Generation X hangers on--almost Gen-X wannabes--is the first cyber-culture--the generation to use computers more that television--and in doing so, illustrates everything that is wrong and wonderful with computers.
The antagonist, his cruel grandfather, is the other side of the coin--completing the paradigm shift--dovetailing the symbolism of man with the symbolism of the machine. Walter's grandfather arguably represents the Ghost of Generations past. The fact that a generation skips between the two purposely breaks the familial synergy, and is symbolic in itself: Grandfather is really too old to be a Baby Boomer, while Walter at age 20 is to young to be an X'er.
A younger Boomer does appear in the shadows: Walter's unrenowned love, his thirtysomething psychologist who does not return his affections, and because of it, must sever ties with her former patient. Walter poignantly writes of his broken heart.
Therefore, pining to becoming one with Generation X will never happen. Walter, looking to the future, is what the X'ers hope to be, while Grandfather, looking ahead, is what the Boomers will ultimately become.
It is patriotically Generation X to hate the Older Boomers, and all they represent. Once rebels in their own right, they have become the dreaded Establishment--an Establishment that they were the first generation to fight so hard against. Today, Boomers sit in the White House and the Speaker's chair. While they might have once smoked pot, burned the flag and danced in the nude at Woodstock, they are now on book-banning committees--and more ominously, are among those who lead the charge to abridge First Amendment freedoms on the Internet.
But, according to Walter Miller, the Internet does not belong to them. It belongs to his generation. Older generations are irrelevant, and do not even yet know it, in view of the Internet.
Older Boomers were the first Generation to lampoon those older than they. They painted caricatures of their parents in the popular media culture of the time. The Boomers made them the foolish policemen and evil business interests in Billy Jack. They were the selfish adults--virtually anyone who was an adult--who appeared in The Graduate.
The irony is that these aging rebels, as they ripen into their fifties today, curiously resemble those walrusy old Republicans so often lampooned as the bad guys back in the popular cultural vehicles of the 1960s and 1970s--but instead of drinking scotch on their fieldstone patios, they now relax with white wine in their hot tubs. Instead of the country club, it is now the Sierra Club.
And instead of television and movies, where the young boomers ridiculed and shocked their elders in the 1960s and 1970s, they are personified as a grisly old man on a new medium--the internet--that they not only fear, but cannot even use without the younger user's help.