The youth-centrism and general informality of the modern Western world are undeniable, certainly to anyone who, like me, enjoys old films, fine art music or the TV show “Mad Men” (though we may not agree with the show’s denigration of the pre-counterculture 1960s). Dalrymple addressed this trend a few days ago in the Telegraph:
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.
To be quite just, a century or two ago such age gaps were not considered improper. Of course, at that time infectious disease did a great deal to flatten out mortality.
Haven’t older men always lusted after younger, more attractive women? I can’t see that it has much to do with prolonging one’s adolescence. Nor can I see what the private lives of John Cleese and Terry Jones – both intelligent, well-read men – has to do with Dalrymple. Perhaps he should be writing for a celebrity gossip magazine.
I think this is perfectly in line with Dalrymple’s other views about society. He has written about numerous trends and this is no exception.
I personally am married to a man 13 years older than I, but he is not traditionally old enough to have fathered me, like the gentlemen stated in the article are to their respective partners. Let’s face it, 31 and 41 years older than your partner is quite a big gap!
I found myself disagreeing with Dalrymple when he said, “Children mature earlier than ever”. My own experience suggests they mature later than ever: I believe he has no children of his own, and doubt he has a great deal of contact with ordinary British teenagers (as opposed to the unrepresentative ones in prison or the urban slum areas where he practised). The norm is for Britons never to mature: the transition from child to adult doesn’t actually take place.
British teenagers, though by no means sheltered innocents, are amazingly naïve about life in general. Their mindset is shaped by progressive sloganising from the schools, the mass media and the entertainment industry (Marx & Freud could have concocted no more effective public re-education program than pop & rock music).
…And modern adults are merely teenagers with expanded vocabularies.
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