Monday, October 23, 2006

The Bell Tolls For Thee

Shrinkwrapped looks at gloom and doom amidst leftist baby boomers, and ascribes a great deal of it to the increasing knowledge that the Grim Reaper is catching up with them.


For the generation that came of age in the heady days of the 1960s, with their personal mythology that their LOVE and commitment stopped an unjust war and brought down a quasi-fascist state, the personal has always been political. When we were young and strong and invincible, we rebelled against the stultifying morality of our parents and achieved heights of libidinal freedom that few could ever have felt before or since. We Imagined there was no war and there was no war. Yet, now, at an age when past generations were slowly slipping into retirement, as the first of the baby boomers (weren't we supposed to be Forever Young?) move into retirement (a retirement we are redefining even as I write this) there is a problem for us. We weren't supposed to become old and infirm, and be replaced by a younger generation. In fact, many of my peers rationalized not having children because of how much stress people put on the environment, and now have no children of their own to hand off the mantle to; yet those right wing reactionaries insisted on having children and now the country is turning redder and redder (and this will continue whether or not the Democrats can stem the tide of historical inevitability one more time with the help of the legacy media). Here is where the pessimism comes from:

When the Narcissistic character ages, his usual sources of self-esteem regulation break down. He no longer has the kinds of sexual stamina and prowess he had in his youth (and no amount of Viagra can hide the fact from himself.) Her beauty is fading and men no longer stare at her on the street, preferring to stare at her daughter (and men are pigs anyway.) Young turks have the energy to compete in the global market and the old graybeards can only get along just so far with their wiles and wisdom before recognizing their time is passing. Approaching retirement, Baby Boomer women begin to have a dawning awareness that they really couldn't have it all; some choices, once made, precluded other possibilities later, and there are no do-overs. This is why the elites are so unhappy. The world has changed and not to their liking, and the world is no longer about us, but about our children.


Now many of us are old and haven't died yet; there is no rush to die before we get any older either, but there is certainly an awareness of our mortality. Those who were unfortunate enough to never realize that life must be lived spiritually as well as materially (vertically as well as horizontally, in Robert's eloquent locution, whose post today, Men Without Chests and Women Without Breasts, is a wonderful disquisition on similar topics done in his inimitable style) have nothing to fall back upon once they have left the bloom of their youth. Once the slope of life turns downward, the Narcissist has only his anger or his despair to sustain him. It makes the entire world seem like a gloomy, unhappy place. If Michael Barone were correct, that the gloom relates primarily to the background threat from WMD in the hands of people who wish us harm, the healthy and energized Baby Boomer would be mobilized to attack the danger and prepare to defend our culture. Yet, because the threat of WMD is somewhat distanced, and statistically unlikely for any individual, while the threat of aging is unmistakably real to each of us, only the close threat is acknowledged by the Narcissistic Boomer. Further, the continued leadership of Bush and his minions, who are so obviously less worldly and less intellectual than those who deserve to be making the world a better place (mostly by wishing it were) is an intolerable insult.

If the Democrats win the mid-term elections, they are likely to cause great grief to our ability to fight against an implacable enemy. Yet, if they lose, again, I fear for their rage and despair. It is when the external world shows its indifference that the Narcissist is most at risk for existential despair.

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