Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Regeneration

I shall turn forty next year. Facing the prospect of middle age with all the unbounded delight you would expect, I find ‘forty is the new thirty’ less comforting than Erasmus’ observation that at thirty-five, dried-up old age tires the body’s strength. (He lived to be seventy.) It’s not that, barring accidents, I’m looking forward to thirty years of senescence, but that by taking Erasmus’ perspective we assume youth is well and truly behind us (and it is), the weight of expectation is off, any time left is a bonus, and we can get on with the things we want to do rather than the things we think we ought to have been doing. Which were? I’ve no idea. This must explain why I haven’t done them.

Meanwhile, from Milan Kundera’s The Curtain (2005):

How many Fabrices, Aglaias, Nastasyas, Mishkins I see around me! They are all just beginning the journey into the unknown; no question, they are drifting, but theirs is a singular sort of drifting: they drift without knowing that’s what they are doing; for they are doubly inexperienced: they do not know the world and they do not know themselves; only when they look back on it from the distance of adulthood will they see their drifting as drifting; and besides: only with that distance will they be capable of understanding the very notion of drifting. For the moment, with no understanding of the view the future will one day take of their long-gone youth, they defend their convictions far more aggressively than an adult man would defend his, a man who has had experience with the fragility of human certainties.

[E.M.] Ciorin’s outburst against youth shows something obvious: from each observation post standing along the line that runs from birth to death, the world looks different and the attitudes of the person looking out from it change as well; no-one will understand another person except by first of all understanding his age. Of course that’s so obvious, so very obvious! But only an ideological pseudo-obviousness can be seen at once. With an existential obviousness, the more obvious it is, the less visible. The ages of life stand concealed behind the curtain.

'[...]they defend their convictions far more aggressively than an adult man would defend his, a man who has had experience with the fragility of human certainties.' Milan...mate. Clearly not a Harlan Ellison fan. Fabrice del Dongo – The Charterhouse of Parma; Aglaia Lepanshin, Nastasya Filipovna and Prince Mishkin – all from The Idiot. But you knew that, right? Hold the relish.




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