Updated: 8/16/15; 18:43:02

pedantic nuthatch
Life in a Northern Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C. B.M.A.T.C., and Etruscan typewriter erasers. Blogged by David Gorsline.

Tuesday, 9 March 2004

Grackles have arrived in Vienna. They're in flocks, displaying along the trail, doing that rudder-tail thing that looks to me like teenagers in low-rider cars cruising the square.

Another sub-40:00 3 mile walk today.

posted: 1:25:02 PM  

I often find that I agree with Joseph Epstein's dignified grumbling, but never so enthusiastically that I need to link to one of his articles. Is it because he writes in a way that lets you know that he doesn't that much care whether you agree? Or perhaps that much of what he says is just two steps beyond the obvious (or at least, obvious to me)? Anyway, some snips from "The Perpetual Adolescent" follow.

The shift into youth culture began in earnest, I suspect, during the 10 or so years following 1951, the year of the publication of "Catcher in the Rye." Salinger's novel exalts the purity of youth and locates the enemy--a clear case of Us versus Them--in those who committed the sin of having grown older, which includes Holden Caulfield's pain-in-the-neck parents, his brother (the sellout screenwriter), and just about everyone else who has passed beyond adolescence and had the rather poor taste to remain alive.

Personal connection: The Catcher in the Rye features in the story of Six Degrees of Separation.

Recent history has seemed to be on the side of keeping people from growing up by supplying only a paucity of stern tests of the kind out of which adulthood is usually formed. We shall never have another presidential candidate tested by the Depression or by his experience in World War II. These were events that proved crucibles for the formation of adult character, not to say manliness. Henceforth all future presidential--and congressional--candidates will come with a shortage of what used to pass for significant experience.

Vietnam veterans might disagree. But here's a kernel of wisdom:

Self-esteem, of which one currently hears so much, is at bottom another essentially adolescent notion. The great psychological sin of our day is to violate the self-esteem of adolescents of all ages. One might have thought that such self-esteem as any of us is likely to command would be in place by the age of 18. (And what is the point of having all that much self-esteem anyhow, since its logical culminating point can only be smug complacence?) Even in nursing homes, apparently, patients must be guarded against a feeling of their lowered consequence in the world. Self-esteem has become a womb to tomb matter, so that, in contemporary America, the inner and the outer child can finally be made one in the form of the perpetual adolescent.

(Thanks to Arts & Letters Daily.)

posted: 10:24:48 AM  

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