Category Archives: geriatric adolescence

A pitiful case of adolescent senescence

Immaturity held up as the highest good

In a café, Dalrymple watches a man in his early seventies making his way slowly and painfully to the latrines with the aid of a wheeled walker. Dalrymple writes:

This, of course, was reason enough to sympathise with him and, if I could have helped, I should have done so.

But what made the man a tragic figure

was not his physical handicap (of a type that many – perhaps most – of us will experience if we live long enough) but his insistence on dressing like an adolescent, in jeans, a flowered shirt, and basketball shoes, with a single, large gold earring and a Keith Richards coiffure c. 1970 except for its greyness.

Here was a man

who had not (as Mr Blair would no doubt have put it) moved on. He was caught in adolescence as flies were once caught in amber.

This was a tragedy

not only for him as an individual but, on the assumption that he was far from alone but rather representative of a trend, for society: for as everyone knows, having once been adolescent themselves, adolescence is a time of extreme bad taste and what might be called conformist rebellion, or rebellious conformity. It was a tragedy for him as an individual because it made him dream an impossible, worthless dream; and a tragedy for society because it made immaturity the highest good.

Richard Gott’s perverted KGB view of history

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Richard Gott: Guardian writer and onetime KGB agent

Richard Willoughby Gott, the upper-class English journalist and spy for the Soviet Union, was educated at Winchester and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. A communist, Gott was recruited by the KGB in the late 1970s and writes for the London Guardian newspaper.

Dalrymple observes that although Gott

accepted trips paid for by the KGB, that didn’t harm his journalistic reputation anything like taking them from the CIA would have.

The traitor Gott, Dalrymple points out, is

always on the lookout for a left-wing economic experiment to laud, preferably in the tropics,

screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-23-24-51and one of his

more recent enthusiasms was for the late Hugo Chávez, about whom he wrote a book. Chávez’s policies could have produced a shortage of saltwater in the Pacific.

As for Fidel Castro, Western intellectuals have long retained a soft spot for the Cuban dictator, and Gott is one of his leading European champions, being entirely uninterested in

the economic effects of Castro’s regime. When Castro seized power, Cuba was at the economic level of Italy, and richer than Spain. It had a poor peasantry, but so did Spain and Italy. Like Perón in Argentina, but even more dramatically, Castro undeveloped his country.

screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-23-23-58Nor is Gott interested in Cuba’s

  • mass emigration, or why it took place
  • executions
  • imprisonment of dissidents
  • censorship
  • constant surveillance
  • arbitrary arrest
  • omnipresent propaganda

Gott, says Dalrymple,

is now an elderly man, but he is still adolescent at heart, as so many intellectuals are.

Youth thinks itself wise as a drunk man thinks himself sober

Youth, writes Dalrymple, is self-important. Youth,

so often characterised as idealistic, is egotistical. It thinks that no one has thought about anything before it applies itself to the matter in hand and that, unlike previous generations, it can make the world anew. Youth imagines that the world is easily tractable, that rebellion in the name of humanity against all that exists is somehow nobler than mere acceptance and conformity, that noisy opposition is better than quiet service. The latter is regarded as selling out, when it is normal maturation.

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Adolescent geriatric

The problem is that while youth would once have had its day and grown up,

we live at a time of unprecedented nostalgia for youth and its narcissistic rebelliousness. As the population ages, so youth becomes ever more desirable. Perhaps the most visible symbol of this is the refusal of rock stars to admit that they are no longer 18, and to dress or comport themselves differently from how they did then. Another sign was Tony Blair’s commitment to youthfulness as the touchstone of virtue and wisdom.

We are about to enter, says Dalrymple,

the first age of the adolescent geriatric, or the geriatric adolescent.

Young, dumb and full of cum

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 02.52.23Dalrymple’s youthful weak-mindedness and folly

There were his thoughts about alopecia:

I remember thinking that baldness in men was a physical sign or consequence of having compromised in cowardly fashion with the demands of the world for the sake of peace, quiet and comfort.

Dalrymple regarded an ordinary career as anathema, also

morally reprehensible, treachery to the demands of Life. It did not occur to me that everything I valued in life depended upon the willingness of others to live the type of life I did not wish to lead.

He fancied himself a daredevil, persuading himself that cheap excursions into apparent danger had some higher purpose. These exploits naturally caused anxiety to his mother and father, but

I didn’t give them a moment’s thought: it was precisely from them and from what they wanted for me that I sought to escape.

Of course, in the end, like so many spoilt, conceited young middle-class people, he

was able to have my cake and eat it.