Perpetual adolescence

Dalrymple on adolescence:

Sixty really is the new 50, or even 40. If Sophie Tucker were alive today, she’d be singing Life begins at 70.

This is all to the good, of course, but as with all progress there is a dark side to it as well. We are about to encounter the first generation of geriatric adolescents, or adolescent geriatrics: that is to say, those people who have never really put their youth behind them, refuse to acknowledge the ravages of time, and do not believe that it is ever time to put adolescent things away. Their tastes, especially in music, have hardly evolved, nor their mode of dress. They have never gone beyond the instinctive bad taste of youth. . . .

For an increasing number of people, however, the seven ages of man have been reduced to two: childhood, which is not under their control, but ends roughly at the age of 11; and adolescence, which – unlike marriage – lasts until death. Growing old is for them an optional extra, a matter of attitude and not of biology. As for the wisdom of age, it is a concept unknown to them; it is the wisdom of youth that they believe in. To be young is very heaven; to be anything else is hell.


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