December 5, 2017:
Crowds. The renovation's paid off, for realz.
I remember this corner as permanently empty, apart from drunks rolling out of the corner bar. Footsteps echoed on cobblestone and if I didn't know better I'd swear it was foggy and damp, like London in a Dickens novel. Perhaps that reflects my contemporary emotional judgment of the place.
I'm not alone of our group in feeling this way. That trip was intellectually extraordinary, but it was emotionally disastrous for so many of us.
It was the playing-out in reality of one of the core logics of our milieu: an indulgent, petty-bourgeois bohemianism, ungrounded in either art or revolution. A selfish, consumerist hedonism which undercut any real claim to rebellion.
It was the end of the Me Decade. Breaking hearts, shattering relationships. In at least one case I can name, and I think there were more, pushing fragile identities into alcohol and drug addiction, depression, and mental illness.
Our cynical, selfish chaperone would snort sardonically at this judgment, saying, "Experience is part of education." But suicide is an experience. And while the Romantics might argue that destructive experiences are valuable, my own suggestion is fuck that shit. Collapse is not growth.
In hindsight I see that trip as life-changing, but not life-affirming. Realistically, it was life-shattering. Friends who shared that experience agree.
Narcissistic solipsism: because the world now is better, it looks better. This renovation is change which I'm thrilled to embrace.