[CATEGORIES: Literature, Lapham’s Quarterly, Reading, Book Review]
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L.Q. posts are for inquiring minds and avid readers. I gently chide you if you do not proceed.
The three sections in Voices in Time this issue are Salad Days, Growing Pains, and Coming of Age, representing stages in one’s youth I suppose. Does all youth have the luxury of Salad Days, a preparatory dining course more particular to America than some European counterparts? We shall see.
Voices in Time
- Noam Scheiber on the Veneration of Youth: 2014 / Northern California
- Techies rule. YOUNG techies that is. Older people, 30+, need not apply.
- “Tech luminaries who otherwise pride themselves
on their dedication to meritocracy don’t think twice
about deriding the not-actually-old. “Young people
are just smarter,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuck-
erberg told an audience at Stanford back in
2007. As I write, the website of ServiceNow, a
large Santa Clara-based IT-services company,
features the following advisory in large let-
ters atop its “careers” page: “We Want People
Who Have Their Best Work Ahead of Them,
Not Behind Them.”” (p.23)
- “Just because overt age-discrimination is il-
legal doesn’t mean it never happens. In 2011,
Google settled a multimillion-dollar claim
brought by a computer scientist named Brian
Reid, who had been fired when he was fifty-
four. Reid said colleagues and supervisors had
frequently referred to him as “an old man” and
“an old fuddy-duddy” whose ideas were “too
old to matter.”” (p. 24)
- “And then there is the question of what
purpose our economic growth actually serves.
The most common advice venture capitalists
give entrepreneurs is to solve a problem they
encounter in their daily lives. Unfortunately,
the problems the average twenty-two-year-old
male programmer has experienced are all about
being an affluent single guy in Northern Cali-
fornia. That’s how we’ve ended up with so many
games (Angry Birds, Flappy Bird, Crappy Bird)
and all those apps for what one startup founder
described to me as cooler ways to hang out with
friends on a Saturday night.
The whole premise of youthful innovation
isn’t even true. It turns out older people have
historically been just as “disruptive” as younger
people. A 2005 paper by Benjamin Jones of the
National Bureau of Economic Research stud-
ied Nobel Prize winners in physics, chemistry,
medicine, and economics over the past hundred
years, as well as the inventors of revolutionary
technologies. Jones found that people in their
thirties contributed about 40 percent of the
innovations, and those in their forties about
30 percent. People over fifty were responsible
for 14 percent, the same share as the twenty-
somethings. Those under the age of nineteen
were responsible for exactly nothing.” (p. 26)
- Nothing of Hell and Satan: 1844 / Foleshill
- George Eliot (she). How can youth be the happiest time when we have learned nothing yet?
- “One has to spend so many years in learning
how to be happy. I am just beginning to make
some progress in the science, and I hope to
disprove Edward Young’s theory that “as soon
as we have found the key of life, it opes the
gates of death.” … I never will believe
that our youngest days are our happiest.
What a miserable augury for the progress of
the race and the destination of the individual,
if the more matured and enlightened state
is the less happy one!” (p. 26)
- Love at First Sight : 8 / Tomis
- Ovid – the Narcissus story. No mention that, being attracted to himself, he yearned for a same sex relationship!
- (p. 60)
- Herman Hesse Arranges an Introduction: c. 1100 / Germany
- ***Excellent. Youthful indiscretions. Sneaking out of dorm at night. Entertaining/ being entertained by young girls. Vowing to follow the rules, become a monk.
- ““Never again!” commanded his will. “Again!
Tomorrow!” begged his heart.” (p. 32)
- Elizabeth Bishop Joins the Club: 1918 / Worcester, MA
- B. 1911 D. 1979. Young girl looking at African women’s breasts in Nat. Geo. Dizzying for her.
- Paths to Glory: 1876 / Nice
- Proper and very intelligent young lady striving for expression of herself.
- First Love: c. 200 / Mytilene
- ***Eloquent tale of naive young love. Only extant work of Longus. Side research of L.Q. authors via Wikipedia is noteworthy. I recommend it.
- Oral Fixation: 1905 / Vienna
- Freud as only Freud can be. Thumbsucking, autoeroticism, erogenous zones, oh my.
- The Wellspring of Romance: 1878 / Grez-Sur-Loing
- “It is the grown people who make the nursery stories; all the children do is jealously preserve the text. One out of a dozen reasons why Robinson Crusoe should be so popular with youth is that it hits their level in this matter to a nicety; Crusoe was always at makeshifts and had, in so many words, to play at a great variety of professions; and then the book is all about tools, and there is nothing that delights a child so much.”
- “Children are even content to forgo what we call the realities, and prefer the shadow to the substance.” (p. 46) There’s that phrase again, ‘prefer the shadow to the substance’. A search of my digital access to L.Q. shows it appearing on pp. 16, 21, and 28 as well, all referencing Ovid’s Narcissus.
- ” “Oh, why,” I remember passionately wondering, “why can we not all be happy and devote ourselves to play?”” Bravo. Well done.
- Wrong Move: c. 600 BC / Greece
- Aesop. Fable-ulous.
- Annie Dillard Delights in the Chase: 1952 / Pittsburgh
- ***Children play. So do adults. Superb.
- Sweet and Cold: c. 1550 / Shanyin
- Inscrutable Oriental poetry. Escapes me, sad to say.
- Richard Wright Starts the Fire: c. 1912 / Natchez, MS
- Out of the frying pan into the proverbial fire. Straight to the woodshed for you if you haven’t burned it down yet. Extremely well-written recollection of an age-four experience. Noteworthy biography for side research in Wikipedia.
- Occupational Hazard: 1817 / London
- A brief reminder that some children have no childhood at all.
- Status Anxiety: c. 1883: Günsbach
- ***A gentleman’s boy by birth as a parson’s son but determined to fit in with the village boys. His salad days become growing pains as he experiences his first betrayal. This is by the famous Albert Schweitzer, humanitarian medical missionary in Africa in the first half of the 20th century. I didn’t know much about him but as usual Wikipedia enlightens. My curiosity was further piqued by his views on Reverence for Life and the will to live.
“Ethics is nothing other than Reverence for Life. Reverence for Life affords me my fundamental principle of morality, namely, that good consists in maintaining, assisting and enhancing life, and to destroy, to harm or to hinder life is evil.”
“True philosophy must start from the most immediate and comprehensive fact of consciousness, and this may be formulated as follows: ‘I am life which wills to live, and I exist in the midst of life which wills to live.'”
I wonder if Ayn Rand knew him or read his work. OMG. Validation of Ayn Rand’s views? Perhaps I am misinterpreting. I must read these Schweitzer Wikis more closely.
- Character Studies: 1999 / Columbine, CO
- Sad tale of bright, misdirected Klebold and Harris, the Columbine shooters. How to waste one’s youth, and that of others, very quickly.
- J. Edgar Hoover Blames the Parents: 1943 / Washington, DC
- Warning that 1943 youth are going to hell in the proverbial hand basket. At least it’s not a ‘modern’ phenomena.
- Little People: 1688 / France
- “Children are overbearing, supercilious, passion-
ate, envious, inquisitive, egotistical, idle, fickle,
timid, intemperate, liars, and dissemblers; they
laugh and weep easily, are excessive in their joys
and sorrows, and that about the most trifling
objects-they bear no pain but like to inflict it
on others; already they are men.
Children are neither for the past nor the future,
but enjoy the present, which we rarely do.” (p. 65)
- Simone de Beauvoir Spoils Her Nightdress: 1919 / Paris
- A young girl goes through the angst of ‘life changes’. This perhaps should have been in the Growing Pains or Coming of Age sections. Wiki enlightens as usual. Simone would become an intellectual, bi-sexual, and significant other of philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.
- Happy Birthdays: 1968 / Wilmington, DE
- Hmm. Stream-of-conscious poetry about black childhood.
- Fyodor Dostoevsky Dreams Big: c. 1875 / St. Petersburg
- ***Noteworthy. On persistence, continuity, frugality, strength of will.
- “I repeat: my idea is to become Rothschild,
to become as rich as Rothschild; not simply rich,
but precisely like Rothschild. Why, what for, pre-
cisely what goals I pursue-of that I shall speak
later. First,I shall merely prove that the achieve-
ment of my goal is mathematically assured.
The matter is very simple, the whole secret
lies in two words: persistence and continuity.” (p. 70)
“They’ll tell me: these are all dreams, you
don’t know the street, and you’ll be cheated from
the first step. But I have will and character, and
street science is a science like any other, it yields
to persistence, attention, and ability.” (p. 73)
“Not to make money, not to learn how to
make money, would be unnatural. It would
also be unnatural, with continuous and regu-
lar accumulation, with continuous attention
and sobermindedness, restraint, economy, with
ever-increasing energy, it would be unnatural,
I repeat, not to become a millionaire.” (p. 74)
- More Hateful than Vipers: 1742 / Northampton, MA
- Hell hath no fury like a fervent preacher.
- Making the Most of It: c. 550 BC / Greece
“Let me advise the world: so long as you possess
youth’s lovely bloom, and still are sound of mind
use what you have for pleasure. No return to youth
is granted by the gods to mortal men,
and no escape from death. Ugly, accursed age
takes hold on top, and cuts through our pretense.”
- Secrets of the Servants’ Hall: c. 1825 / Moscow
- ***Noteworthy and insightful.
“This resemblance between servants and chil-
dren accounts for their mutual attraction. Chil-
dren hate the aristocratic ideas of the grown-ups
and their benevolently condescending manners,
because they are clever and understand that in
the eyes of grown-up people they are children,
while in the eyes of servants they are people.” (p. 76)
- Golden Days: 1890 / London
- ***Superb. Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. I’ll have Eternal Youth Potion #9 please. “What a drag it is getting old.”–the Rolling Stones.
“Don’t squander the gold
of your days listening to the tedious, trying to
improve the hopeless failure, or giving away your
life to the ignorant, the common, and the vulgar.
These are the sickly aims, the false ideas, of our
age. Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you!
Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always search-
ing for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing. . .” (p. 78)