The Weekend Read
The Death of Adulthood?

The cultural abdication of adulthood that A.O. Scott describes in this week’s New York Times Magazine is real. We risk leaving to our children the impossible task of loving a world that we don’t respect enough to love ourselves.

Published on: September 14, 2014
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  • johngbarker

    How would one rate the cultural level of the White House; is there more than golf and popular music?

    • Ernst Bloefeld

      I would rate it infantile. These seem to be folks who have been breathing their own vapours. They continually have no plan because they think plans are for losers. Flexibility to bob and weave and go with the flow are what these people value. Fine if you view the world through entirely political lenses, not so much if you actually have to rule for all of the people, all of the time.

      We need some adults at the controls of our world and Obama have proved over and over again that they are not grown ups at all.

      I said when Obama was elected that he was the last guy in the world I wanted to go toe to toe with Putin. That Putin was a scary KGB spook first and foremost and Obama a semi-community organizer. I think I have been proved correct in my assessment.

  • Ernst Bloefeld

    The United States is now reaping the reward of having no adults in charge.

  • Anthony

    “The most important question is whether a culture without adults will have the collective seriousness and will to sacrifice personal interests for public virtues and ideas.” Now that’s a mouthful and may strangle…

    On to essay, some public intellectuals lament that Americans have allowed themselves to be manipulated by cultural blandishments. Clear thinking or what author calls maturity, to their minds, seems to have been given short shrift in that adults no longer take the long view (responsibility) – though A.O. Scott in article argues otherwise. What’s behind such behavior? Could author’s thesis be traced to our relatively affluent society? In an affluent society, wants are manufactured and how has the phenomenon of modern media impacted the adult mindset ascribed. “Now the opinion manipulators have readily at hand the combination of television, the Internet, video, billboards, newspapers, magazines, special events, and other traditional outlets.” Above all, this “cultural apparatus” has for several decades now facilitated what author describes as culture of immaturity and abandonment of societal authority.

    “We are not just what we eat. We are also what we see and hear, since these literally change our brains, minds, and future judgments.” To this end, the “cultural apparatus” has aided in rebalancing the priority of categorized adults in our media rich society. At end of his article A.O. Scott asks: who or what killed adulthood. Good question.

    • theresanursemom

      Much of America is living in a fantasy world and this shows up in our politics in spades. The Democrats are now a radical leftist party and the Republican Party is now a moderately liberal party. Neither party is able to act like adults as the competition for votes is a urinating contest over special favors and consideration rather than what’s truly best for America. How else can you explain the coddling of Wall Street for political money and subsequent corruption of our capitalistic system (read David Stockman’s “The Great Deformation”), the nonsense on the border, and the exploding debt. No adults to be found to deal with any of these problems. Our “leaders” would rather have us all get high or lose ourselves in the virtual worlds of videogames to forget our troubles rather than press them to deal with our problems like responsible adults. Our culture and our country has become as vapid and shallow as your typical TV sitcom.

      • Anthony

        Your cynicism (disappointment) comes through. Yet thinkers as yourself must continue to move this democracy towards a better way (what can be done for a public who insist upon bringing irrelevant criteria to bear in voting for officials and who decline to participate in the basic task of seeking out and supporting suitable candidates). Republicans and Democrats (generally) know we vote punitively – voting against. Someone said “we get the elected officials (representatives) we elect” (deserve). Thanks.

        • Loader2000

          Right. The people get (more or less) what most of them want in the short to medium term. The problem is that there is a disconnect between what people want, and what they think they should want. People WANT good returns on their investments. They think they should want (or simply want less) less influence of Wall Street in politics. If you really want when you think you should want, then go and do something about it.

  • RKae

    I appalled when people ask me if I’ve read Harry Potter books. Sorry, no, I’m 50 and my time is taken up with history and political books.

    I had the displeasure of reading a few pages from a Potter book once, and it was junk writing. That damned woman is a billionaire? Really? With that sloppy grasp of language? It was idiotic.

    • Tom Chambers

      I disagree. I too enjoy reading history (especially maritime history), and I spend my working hours with scientific papers. But I have also enjoyed reading the Harry Potter books. I’m 60. Feel free to think me juvenile.

  • Duperray

    Existence of weapons does not create war. War results from some authority wanting to grab something important, army and weapons are only a tool.
    Internet, media, videos, newspapers, and so on, are only effective tools to perform a lot of things from the best (education, culture) to the worst (hate, mind formatting,..).
    The raging western under-culture results only from a higher level will (from whom?) using existing performant communication tools to achieve a pre-determinet target.
    Which target?
    I am like you, have no absolute clear idea about, but putting things together, some mainstreams appear:
    * People shall not think, otherwise they are not politically controllable,
    * They shall be convinced that everything is ok, they can amuse themselves and enjoy life,
    * They shall work hard with almost no job safety, maintaining low income (whilst elite enjoys double digit income rise),
    * They shall pay all taxes, while elite escape most,
    * They shall be convinced that they live in a democratic state end enjoy freedom,
    * Their mind shall be formatted by media in order they “vote correctly”. And so on.

    Mass of populations are therefore handled as cow herds or human slaves. Even Julius Cesar was doing this “Give the populace food, drink and games, they will let you run uncontrolled”.
    Unfortunately this occurs not only in West but in almost all countries.

  • Richard Tasgal

    I object to the disparagement of skateboarding, or its use as a proxy for childishness. I concede self-interest, as I’m in my 40s and have taken it up again, since my city (Beer-Sheva, Israel) built a public skate park. The sport itself does not seem any more unsuited to adults than, say, tennis, jogging or skiing; it’s merely not currently popular among adults. If an adult were to take to the clothing styles (not torn jeans) and music associated with the teen skateboarding subculture, that would be different.

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