Sunday, June 21, 2009

Symptoms of getting older

The other day I heard an excerpt from a play on the radio that went something like this. An older person says to a young one: "I was 56 when you were born, and nothing you say can possibly be new to me; any debate you might start is something I've already had, probably verbatim, with someone else decades back". I could only nod and smile. This, more than anything else, is my main symptom of getting older. Not physical decrepitude -- I'm lucky to have no health problems (knock on wood), and I have more energy now than I had at 18 (I credit exercise and time management) -- but this endless deja vu. For that reason I stopped reading most discussion groups I used to subscribe to, especially those of political or philosophical nature, such as freethinker / atheist groups. Like the character of the above-mentioned play, I already know pretty much every argument people trot out. The most popular discussion questions on freethinker groups are liberalism vs. conservatism; what degree of regulation and state interference in economic and social matters is appropriate; abortion; animal rights -- all those "third rail" topics that get people riled up. Oddly enough, precise definitions of atheist and agnostic (and other, subtler shades of nonbelief) can also be a heated topic in freethought communities. I've been on a number of discussion groups, and the arguments are always the same. Not that I would expect them to be different: I realize there's only a limited number of arguments. But this also means I have long ago stopped participating in debates, especially after I concluded that no amount of debating ever convinced opposing sides to budge from their positions. :-)

I never thought that age works that way on people, but as I get older, I become more neophiliac. The more I hear or read, the less of what I read or hear seems new to me; the more I look for something that's truly different. I find myself puzzled by the prevailing notion that only teenagers and twentysomethings are drawn to radically different forms of art. To me, it's the opposite. So much of pop-culture and music teens and young adults are drawn to seems like regurgitation of artistic memes of decades ago. I realize it's new to them; for me, on the other hand, it takes long and hard looking to find something I haven't heard before.

Bookmark This on Delicious

1 comment:

Makarios said...

As a wise author once said, "There is nothing new under the sun."
Ecclesiastes.