violent gays alike.rnThe psychological basis of the creativernlife is in transcending the tunnel vision ofrnlabels and identities, and in abstainingrnfrom the comforts of communal membership.rnA true artist seeks out peoplernwho are different: nothing human isrnalien. That cop guarding TompkinsrnSquare Park during curfew hours is forrnthe artist a possible subject or characterrn—not through projecting hang-upsrnand prejudices on him (or slugging him),rnbut in finding out what makes him tick.rnMuch of the affected rage of today’srn”artists” does not have its source in whatrnthey claim to oppose: oppression, censorship,rnhomophobia, and philistinism.rnTheirs is the anger of people who havernfought against all constraint and won.rnNow they hnd themselves with only theirrnshared mediocrity and the arrogance ofrnpower for company.rnDuring a similar time of upheaval andrnromantic Schwdrmerei in Weimar Germany,rna writer attacked such narcissismrnat its roots. The writer saw himself lockedrnin mortal struggle between two selves: arnmediocre, constricted bourgeois and arnmurderous, spontaneous wolf. If thernfalse dichotomy of the bourgeois and thernwolf had prevailed, the writer as wolfrnwould have slit his own throat, killingrnboth antagonists. Instead, he came tornsee dozens, even thousands of alternativernselves in the mirror.rnThe writer was Hermann Hesse; thernbook was Steppenwolf, published in 1927.rnThe few contemporary New York artistsrnwho are going to amount to anythingrnwill be those who are able to see beyondrnthe steppenwolf in the mirror.rn—Nicholas StixrnT H E BABY-BOOMER generationrn(heard that phrase much lately?) has nowrntaken over government, along with everythingrnelse, and what a spectacle thisrnturn of events provides us. If we usernboomer members of the dominant mediarnculture as a model for the generation’srnsensibilities, and use the dominantrnmedia culture’s reaction to Bill Clintonrnas a reflection of boomer values, whatrnhave we learned during the past yearrnabout Bill Clinton, baby boomers, andrnthe dominant media culture? My fellowrnAmericans, we’ve learned that all threernneed to get a grip.rnBaby boomers have been described,rnby boomers themselves and not withoutrnpride, as the most self-obsessed generationrnin history, the very assertion ofrnwhich is proof of the claim. One characteristicrnof self-obsession is psychologicalrnprojection, and boomers, via theirrnmedia representatives, projected everythingrnonto an ever-willing, ever-recipientrnBill Clinton: their emotional vanityrn(read sensitivity), their intellectual conceitrn(read brilliance), and their moral expediencyrn(read realism).rnDuring the presidential campaign,rnjournalists—male journalists—wroternabout Bill Clinton like high-schoolersrnwith crushes: limp with infatuation. Itrnwas all rather shocking until one realizedrnit wasn’t journalism being practicedrnhere; it was self-worship once removed.rnIt wasn’t enough for the media elite tornjustify Clinton’s past behavior; they hadrnto elevate it. His draft-dodging was presentedrnas an act of conscience, his adulteryrnas nothing less than proof of emotionalrnhonesty. Who, the impliedrnquestion went, hasn’t committed adultery,rnor wanted to? Such moral contortionsrnwere necessary because they werernthe only means by which Clinton couldrnbe said to possess “character.” And hernhad to have character, otherwise all therndraft-dodging adulterers in the pressrnwould be unable to live with themselves.rnAnd on it went. During inauguralrnweek, when Clinton was moved to tearsrnby the likes of Goldie Hawn, nobodyrnquestioned his taste, much less his sensitivityrnthreshold. How cool it was thatrnwe now had a national leader who knewrnthe words to “We Are the World” andrnwas comfortable ducting with MichaelrnJackson. (OK, how should a Presidentrncome across at such moments? Hernshould be unfailingly gracious, slightlyrnuncomfortable, faintly above it all—arngood sport. He should not seem at homernin the proceedings.) Here at last, wernwere told, was a President whose choicernof personal icons evidenced both a sensernof history and the common touch. Clinton’srnicons were John Kennedy and ElvisrnPresley, and no one was quite sure whichrnwas the sense-of-history icon and whichrnthe common-touch, but what did it matter?rnIt was all so symbolic.rnThe question now is, how long willrnthe lovefest last? Well, hearts are breakingrnand minds are changing even as wernspeak. Media boomers are fickle, andrnsince their investment in Clinton wasrnbased on symbolism rather than principle,rntheir inevitable disappointment willrnengender not a sense of betrayal but—farrnworse for the self-obsessed—a wave ofrnembarrassment. The boom-booms arernin for trouble, but they won’t sufferrnalone. They will take Bill Clinton downrnwith them. Let us predict how it willrnhappen.rnFirst, they will be furious that theyrnwere ever charmed by that dumb saxophone.rnThen they will discover—as if forrnthe first time, since nothing counts untilrnthey believe it—what most folks alreadyrnknow: that intelligence isn’t intellect, intellectrnisn’t wisdom, and rhetoric isn’trnleadership. That words count and habitualrnverbal hair-splitting is acceptablernonly in courtrooms. That hypocrisy canrnbe termed pragmatism only so manyrntimes. That when everything is symbolic,rnnothing is real. That emotiveness isrnemotion on the cheap. They will decidernthat it is unseemly for a President to bernso chronically affectable and tacky forrnthe leader of the free world to have as hisrndesktop slogan “Don’t stop thinkingrnabout tomorrow.” (Yech. Why not “Todayrnis the first day of the rest of yourrnlife”?) They will discover, yes, that Clintonrnhas no style, mainly because he hasrnno wit. For all his public affability, herntakes himself very seriously, as do thernmedia boomers (what else does selfobsessedrnmean?), and they will becomernuneasy with the humodess reflectionrnthey see in the White House.rnFinally, this great collection of boomerrnreps will realize where they have seenrnBill Clinton before: he’s the guy withrnthe glossy smile and hip haircut whorndoes the local news. Then they’ll sayrnthey knew it all along.rn—Janet Scott BarlowrnOBITER DICTA: Our friends andrncontributors have been busy as usual.rn”The New American Politics Meets thernNew Europe” conference, organized byrnChronicles with a grant from the EarhartrnFoundation, brought 13 scholars andrnjournalists and a small number of observersrntogether the weekend of Marchrn26-28 to examine the rise of nationalistrnand secessionist movements in the post-rnCold War era. Discussions centeredrnaround questions of identity, multiculturalism,rnand national vs. federal modelsrnof political organization and laid a frameworkrnfor further exchange as currentrntrends in Europe and the United Statesrnevolve.rnOn April 1, The Rockford Instituternand Republican Representative DonrnManzullo of Illinois hosted a receptionrnJULY 1993/9rnrnrn