Tuesday, February 11, 2020

#42 / Aging, Comfortable, Stuck?

Ross Douthat, pictured above, is a New York Times columnist. Apparently, he will soon have a book out. The release date is February 25, 2020. Douthat's book is called The Decadent Society: How We Became Victims of Our Own Success

The Times is helping Douthat to promote book sales. In its edition on Sunday, February 9, 2020, the newspaper ran a very generous two-page inside spread on the argument that Douthat is advancing. The Times article was titled, "The Age of Decadence." 

Like all such analyses, Douthat writes as an "observer," and this is his basic observation:

We probably aren’t entering a 1930-style crisis for Western liberalism or hurtling forward toward transhumanism or extinction. Instead, we are aging, comfortable and stuck, cut off from the past and no longer optimistic about the future, spurning both memory and ambition while we await some saving innovation or revelation, growing old unhappily together in the light of tiny screens.

Our situation is, in other words, best pictured by the illustration above, which is found in the hard copy version and online. 

Is Douthat right? Well, that may depend on who you are. "Comfortable" doesn't ring true for huge segments of the population, as far as I am concerned, and as for "stuck," I think that "untethered" might be a more apt description. 

I hate to keep quoting Karl Marx, but only because I know I am being repetitious, not from any reluctance to credit a verifiable "communist" with a positive reference. As I have said before, "observers," including Douthat, can have some important and impressive insights, and what they write is often worth reading. Nonetheless, to use that quote from Marx again:

The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.

I don't actually think we are "stuck," and I don't think we are feeling "comfortable," either. I am not, at least, and I don't know too many who are.

"Aging?" Ok. Yes, I'll cop to that!

Image Credits:
(1) - https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/go-your-womb-ross-douthat/
(2) - https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/07/opinion/sunday/western-society-decadence.html

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