I’m Sorry, Kurt Cobain

A quarter of a century ago, I turned my back on our revolution. As the reprogramming accelerated, I slowed time by pursuing love. But it was not enough, which I now suppose was the point of it all.

There is never enough time for our revolution of love, on an Earth afire with fascism you easily recognized in your time, and ours, as ahead of your time as you were. No sellout, you also well recognized your role within it, and ours.

You would (still) be depressed to see that we have since demanded worse of each other, and ourselves. When today we hear your mournful “Old Age” processed through yesterday’s technology, you remain hard to comprehend, warning us across decades as we sit doing next to nothing in the accelerating degradation of the planet as we knew it.

Our capitalist anachronism is still exhausted and exhausting, hyperconsuming the green world we grew up within, seductively protected by ice and water in balance with existential limits not yet met. That time, like you, is gone too soon, too fast. Today, our world is drowning, as the ice melts and the tides roll in, exponologically upward, swallowing our monuments to ourselves.

The irony would kill you.

We are compromised by apathy and selfishness and it’s not as if you didn’t warn us. Unheeded, the contradictions of “Come As You Are” have been capitalized by blockbusters about superheroes who, unlike us, save their worlds. Meanwhile, those who create these immersive simulations of The Real World that repelled you continue to bankroll our collective misery and madmen. We have indeed grown stupid and contagious, demanding to be entertained because we like to sing along and we like to shoot our guns and still not know what it means. Because we demand to be entertained, because we are stupid and contagious. These destructive circularities were no stranger to you, although you pretended they were simple rhymes from a dumb mind, as you sang, who thinks he’s just happy.

Because you were, and we are — and yet everything we did, and still do, is wrong and, like you, ends in disintegration and death. Even though we often take your wisdom from “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter” to heart — hate your enemies, save your friends, find your place, speak the truth — there are still not enough of us to fight our enemies and save our friends, because our places are vanishing along with our truth. The revolution continues, and lately more strongly, as newer generations discover your wisdom on an exponentially overheating planet.

But we are running, as I said, out of time. Exponologically.

We can have some more.
Nature is a whore.

We are betrayed by the exponents, of time, of compromise.

On one front, everything is unraveling faster than we can analyze and activate our solutions, much less our revolutions. The metropoles in which you once performed are no longer aspirational destinations, but drownings in waiting. The verdant Earth that nurtured you, already in the grip of extinction while you were alive, is browning further into fascism. Those chiefly to blame for our global destruction, the same reactionary terrorists still running our superpowers, are consolidating what’s left of their vanishing power by disappearing what’s left of the world we knew.

The exponents of compromise are equally staggering.

Even when we who value tolerance and love, as you did, saved our friends and spoke our truth, mounting resistance capable of surviving the oncoming sellout, we were betrayed from within by those too comfortable to give up their demand for a world that would never change. We remember how you liked to make people uncomfortable and we knew why. Yet even today activists tell me our biggest obstacle to progress and evolution, a symbiosis with the planet and each other that could survive into the centuries to come, is comfort. The leader of the Pixies, who led you to your own revelations, told me to my face, a decade after you died, that he and you and I haven’t really changed anything. The same monsters haunt our dreams and our waking lives, and they have almost won.

You weren’t crazy to leave us when you did, in pain and need. You were so sane it hurt.

And so I would like to apologize for turning my back on you, in love in Berkeley, so soon after you left us. I had finally found the person I was looking for and the transitory nature of existence hit me so hard after you passed that I hit back. No longer would I lean on music to save me or anyone else, I decided, breaking up my own band weeks after you passed. No longer would I hide myself away in a four-walled world. I escaped with my love into the wild, what’s left of it, and decelerated time by living as much of it as I could, daily, outside and in tune with my planet, what was left of it.

Over time, I had a daughter, like you, and slowed time even further by spending as much of it as I could, with her, with her mother, with Mother Earth. I saved my friends. I found my place. I spoke my truth. I wrote millions of words born of billions of thoughts, about the beauty and singularity of what we still had to offer, but it was not enough. Even now, my words are lost in an overload of noise, and I can barely remember them. Yours are still on songs and shirts but who is listening and who is signifying? The truth of our words are, as you feared in your time, even further degraded by commodification and compromise and comfort than they were before. All in all is all we are, worse than before, with nothing to distinguish us from the rest of the world we are so busy burning. Eventually, they too will be lost.

I may come back to the words I have written here for you. I might deeper describe your political and cultural awareness, your insistence on intersectional activism in the stupid face of maddening monoculture. I may analyze how the cli-fi you chronicled was tragically taken for granted in disconnected fits of self-assurance, so that we ignored its astronomically lucky gift. But the desire to write anything today is quickly disminishing as the need to do something unsustainably intensifies. We have spent far too much time already, writing and talking and singing and shooting, while we do little of anything to save ourselves.

But for now, I just wanted to say I am truly sorry. You were a good man, and we didn’t work with you, we worked against you. And when you left we found others to work against, and still do. I do not blame you for wanting to escape this world and what we have done to it, which our current science warns us may be irreversible. Unlike myself, you reached millions of people. To discover, decades later, that they ignored who you were and what you believed would have been an unbearable pain.

I’m Sorry Chris Cornell

Happy Anniversary, Surfer Rosa!

Nirvana, Exhumed