Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The long nineties

I feel personal about the long nineties. As no other decade, it was an escapist dream, full of relief that we actually survived the nuclear psychosis, that the world had been made "safe for democracy" and that liberal institutionalism had prevailed.

Add to that avocado club sandwiches, steamy cappuccinos and the export successes of the Czech brewing industry and the nineties appear to be on par even with the "roaring twenties". The moral outcry about saxophones and Lewinsky would probably have been a lot less unforgiving had we only known what would come after: 9/11, George W and Guantanamo – all defining the very erosion of American democracy.

But let me return to the personal experience. For me, the nineties bring to mind long mornings at Red Hot & Blues in Prague, mornings of imagined expatriate bliss with California omelettes, the International Herald Tribune and the warm rays of sunlight shining through the glass roof of the winter garden patio. And in that sense, the long nineties are, as my close friend often insists, still here. As the outside world has once again grown more threatening, we seek out these safe havens: Café Einstein in Berlin, L'Express in New York or even our own Scandinavian euro-latte empire.

Of course, it is all fake, real ontological security does not come in the shape of bagels. But as I sit down, allowing me the indulgence of an Espresso House breakfast while reading about Rawls and our Duty to Posterity, I know that I am still living the dream.


Blogger Gabriel said...

Well, it is not just the eurolatte cuisine, that makes me think that "the long nineties" could be an interesting notion. But yes - the continuity of social patterns such as what we like to eat, and how we picture leasure time is definitely part of the picture. And the notion, to me, applies to Sweden, but of course in part it can be true for other parts of the world as well.

Besides of the pure academical interest, one thought of mine was that this perspective of the long decade would supposedly give us more time, quite simply, to think clearly about ourselves.

So, just hang on, in one place or another I will quite soon elaborate on my thoughts....

12:37 am  

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