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‘LA is the apocalypse’

by Brad A. Greenberg

November 12, 2007 | 9:56 am


I’m taking off right now to interview Jonah Lehrer about his first book, “Proust Was a Neuroscientist,” so I saw it fitting to finally write about this post I saw on his blog a few weeks ago, a link to BLDGBLOG, a well-written architecture blog.

L.A. is the apocalypse: it’s you and a bunch of parking lots. No one’s going to save you; no one’s looking out for you. It’s the only city I know where that’s the explicit premise of living there – that’s the deal you make when you move to L.A.

The city, ironically, is emotionally authentic.

It says: no one loves you; you’re the least important person in the room; get over it.

What matters is what you do there.

And maybe that means renting Hot Fuzz and eating too many pretzels; or maybe that means driving a Prius out to Malibu and surfing with Daryl Hannah as a means of protesting something; or maybe that means buying everything Fredric Jameson has ever written and even underlining significant passages as you visit the Westin Bonaventura. Maybe that just means getting into skateboarding, or into E!, or into Zen, Kabbalah, and Christian mysticism; or maybe you’ll plunge yourself into gin-fueled all night Frank Sinatra marathons – or you’ll lift weights and check email every two minutes on your Blackberry and watch old Bruce Willis films.

Who cares?

Literally no one cares, is the answer. No one cares. You’re alone in the world.

(skip)

Los Angeles is where you confront the objective fact that you mean nothing; the desert, the ocean, the tectonic plates, the clear skies, the sun itself, the Hollywood Walk of Fame – even the parking lots: everything there somehow precedes you, even new construction sites, and it’s bigger than you and more abstract than you and indifferent to you. You don’t matter. You’re free.

I used to hate LA. When I first moved here for college, I started referring to San Diego as the Promised Land that I once took for granted. But now I love it here. I don’t feel as lonely as this writer implies most Angelenos do; I’ve never felt like I’m missing the neighborly support that other big cities supposedly offer. But, then again, I’ve got quite a few UCLA buddies still around, and I’m married.

What implications, though, does this psychological breakdown carry for religiosity and spirituality in the carefree city?

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