Category Archives: adolescence (eternal)

A state of petrified adolescence

Dalrymple writes that Anthony Burgess, in his 1962 novel A Clockwork Orange, showed that he foresaw

the importance that the youth culture would attach to sexual precocity and a kind of disabused knowingness.

In a rape scene, Alex

meets two 10-year-old girls who, like him, are skipping school, in a record shop, where they are listening to pop music with suggestive titles such as Night after Day after Night.

Their education that afternoon

consists of repeated rape by an already experienced 15-year-old.

Anthony Burgess

Dalrymple notes that it would not have surprised Burgess

that magazines for 10- or 11-year-old girls are now full of advice about how to make themselves sexually attractive, that girls of six or seven are dressed by their single mothers in costumes redolent of prostitution, or that there has been a compression of generations, so that friendships are possible between 14- and 26-year-olds.

The precocity necessary to avoid humiliation by peers

prevents young people from maturing further and leaves them in a state of petrified adolescence. Persuaded that they already know all that is necessary, they are disabused about everything, for fear of appearing naïve. With no deeper interests, they are prey to gusts of hysterical and childish enthusiasm; only increasingly extreme sensation can arouse them from their mental torpor.

Hence

the epidemic of self-destructiveness that has followed in the wake of the youth culture.

Purveyor of drivel to the masses

A slob clad in a T-shirt

Dalrymple points out that Mark Zuckerberg

dresses like an incompletely washed slob.

Perhaps, Dalrymple suggests, Zuckerberg

rather fears to appear very different from the masses, in case they get the idea that his product is but a cynical ploy to exploit them.

Slobbery, Dalrymple notes,

is expressive either of an indifference towards others or of an active desire to insult them. It is the expression of a vanity of a different and far worse kind from that of dandyism. A slob is all-important to himself.

As there is slobbery in clothes,

so there is slobbery in manners, which often masquerades as informality.

One possible explanation of the refusal to don more dignified attire

is the desire to remain not forever young, but forever adolescent. Ever since the 1950s, adolescence has been regarded as the peak of human experience, and everything afterwards downhill. If adolescents dress in a certain way, then dressing in a certain way keeps you adolescent.

Fidel’s fantasy of making the world anew — violently

Dictador Supremo: José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia

Dictador Supremo: José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia

Fidel Castro, writes Dalrymple,

was the José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia de nos jours. Yet Francia had one great merit by comparison with Castro and his admirers: he made no pretence that the régime represented democracy of a higher or better kind than the parliamentary variety. Francia did not pretend that it was a democracy of any kind, and came right out with it: his self-chosen title was Dictator.

Castro was the darling of the intellectuals

partly because, like them, he was so slovenly in appearance, partly because he represented their wish fulfilment (inside every rebel there’s a dictator trying to get out). To rant for hours in front of a captive audience unable to answer or object: what greater bliss for an intellectual?

Admiration for Castro in the West was, of course, from afar. Dalrymple points out that Castro’s admirers

would not have found the régime they affected to admire supportable for a single day.

The admiration in the West

for Castro and his appalling sidekick and potential rival, Ernesto Guevara, was essentially frivolous, more a question of style than of substance. It was the promise of eternal adolescence that the two revolutionary egotists held out that rendered them so attractive at a time when adolescence was regarded as the finest of the seven ages of man.

Alberto Korda with his photograph

Alberto Korda with his photograph

Dalrymple notes that

if the photographer Alberto Korda had not snapped Guevara in an uncharacteristically romantic pose (usually he looked dishevelled and unwashed), the cult would not have existed. This was the face that launched a thousand T-shirts, not to say berets, badges, posters, coffee mugs, car stickers, and other items of kitsch.

Dictador Dalrymple would force

anyone guilty of wearing a Guevara T-shirt to read 20 pages of his writings, which make those of Leonid Brezhnev seem like P.G. Wodehouse.

When Dalrymple contemplates

the printed acreage of praise of Castro by Western intellectuals, I recall the words of Thomas Carlyle with regard to what he calls the gauchos of Paraguay:

These men are fit to be drilled into something! Their lives stand there like empty capacious bottles, calling to the heavens and the earth. ‘Is there nothing to put into us, then?’

Dalrymple:

Yes, there is: fantasies of omnipotence, fantasies of making the world anew, with us in charge.

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Revolutionary egotists