Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


The Wall Street Journal ran a review today of Christopher Noxon's Rejuvenile, a detailing of the cultural phenomenon of adults acting more and more like kids. It caught my attention, since I've been meditating more and more on the fact that I'm not "young" anymore, though not yet into "old" either.

We all know the kind of people he's talking about . . . people over 30 wearing "Why Be Normal?" buttons. Men with gray hair in ponytails . . . or women with gray hair in pigtails. Women of a certain age wearing leopardskin print skirts.

Now, I'm not quite as prudish as the WSJ reviewer was. I think that a slight amount of whimsy in one's demeanor and decor is OK. It's like the black smudge on Ash Wednesday . . . it's a signal to everyone that you don't take yourself too seriously. After all, cutsey-to-the-point-of-infantile has long been enshrined in the popular culture of older Americans in grand old tradition of Kitsch. So if it makes you laugh and feel a little less burdened by adulthood . . . why not?

The problem, of course, is when it's more than just a highlight. We all know that older people trying to look younger is about as silly as young people trying hard to look older. In either case, it betrays a sense of not accepting who you are. (To which, of course, some people will say, "But I really am this kid-at-heart. I like to play with my Barbies and go to Disneyland." To which I say, "Yeah . . . that's what all the pseudo-punks with spiked hair and black nail polish said down at the Cup-A-Joe. They all said they were being true to themselves. Funny, but they all wound up looking a whole lot like each other, more than themselves. But then they grew up, and got straight jobs, and all that stuff faded away, and they saw it for what it was . . . affectation. An attempt to define themselves with things that are ultimately shallow and without substance."

There are other ways to succumb to affectation. Just watch American Beauty to see all the ways that people use success and power and other "grown-up" things to hide their pain, just as much as childish relapses to muscle cars and smoking dope. It really doesn't matter what games you play . . . in the end your life is still a game. Whether you're trying hard to look like an adult, or trying hard to look like a kid, the question is the same: what are you really doing with your life?


Blogger Bob said...

"What are you really doing with your life?"

That does seem to be the question. As a wise one once said: "...eventually, when it's over, it's over."

11:57 AM  

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