April 27, 2011

"When I kick the bucket... which can't be too long from now. I think I'm getting out just in time."

"Watching the news, everything seems to be in disorder. Everybody seems to be unhappy. We've lost the knack of living in the world with the sensation of safety.... I wonder why people still have children. I mean, why put kids in the world when the world is so insecure? This is how old people rationalize their death. You get a little crotchety with the world."

Said Maurice Sendak. (Via A&L Daily.)

What if you knew you would live for another 100 or 200 years? How would you prepare? Would you work on your survivalist skills? Would you acquire real estate in the far north?

77 comments:

MarkG said...

Was there ever a time that world wasn't about to end?

PaulV said...

Global cooling would indicate place in tropics.

themightypuck said...

Things are safer than they have ever been. Being old rightly makes people scared.

On the other hand, when the oil runs out all bets are off but if that happens land up north is not going to save you.

Scott M said...

Would you work on your survivalist skills? Would you acquire real estate in the far north?

Why would you not want basic skills that would allow you to survive in the wake of a disaster? If Katrina, etc, taught us anything, it's that most people are woefully unprepared for the disruption of that onion-skin-thin thing we call civilization.

There's no downside to being able to exist outside for a while or having your personal affairs in order to the extent that you can rebound more easily...like a fireproof safe at an absolute minimum. Cheap and sensible.

On the topic of "old people", I have talked to a lot of people from both the WWII generation and my parents (ie boomers). Everyone seems to be in general agreement that things have never been this fucked before with so little hope or silver linings.

In part, I blame the digital revolution. It could be that things were ALWAYS this fucked up, but the info wasn't at everyone's fingertips. I doubt this, though. For one thing, the bi-polar global political power structure was far more stable. I'm not pining for the Cold War, but having grown up in it, it simply seems like, given an obvious and easily identifiable enemy, the democracies of the world seemed to get their shit together more often.

Sixty Grit said...

Oil won't run out any time soon. It is produced by geologic means and is constantly flowing into oil reservoirs.

Being far up north has never made less sense. I just wish the Y*nkees around here would return to their beloved tundra.

Mary said...
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Joaquin said...

The world is and has always been in turmoil. Folks can only relate to what they see around them and only at this moment in time.

gerry said...

Gotterdammerung.

It's only fitting that evil immolate the world as one's life ebbs away.

Haiku Guy said...

Ten years ago, if I thought about retirement, I saw myself living near the beach and driving a convertible.

Nowadays, I find myself looking for someplace where I can grow my own food.

I have a friend who is a survivalist, who I always thought of as a bit of a kook, always going on about guns and being off the grid. Now I want to call him up and ask "How did you set up that solar panel?..."

Maguro said...

Hey, Haiku Guy, shouldn't you be posting in the traditional 5-7-5 format?

Henry said...

Stop watching the news.

The Crack Emcee said...

1) The oil isn't about to run out, you idiots.

2) If you think Sendak's words are just the ravings of an old man, you aren't paying attention. Actually, you're probably part of the problem. Probably a Boomer.

Die, Boomer, die.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Would you acquire real estate in the far north?


Uruguay

Haiku Guy said...

On a summer day,
The wind scented with lilac
I'm a bit lazy...

traditionalguy said...

Security is a common need of all men. But governments, banks and churches are failing to to provide security anymore. Those are facts that are not related to perceptions of the folks. The financial failure chaos and the acceptance of a perpetual state of violent crimes did not exist in the USA 20 years ago.

gerry said...

Crack Emcee:
Heh.

vbspurs said...

What if you knew you would live for another 100 or 200 years? How would you prepare? Would you work on your survivalist skills? Would you acquire real estate in the far north?

Adam lived to be over 900 years old. He and Eve had Cain and Abel when they were 100 years old, and I believe Seth very close to his death.

Did Adam prepare for the End of the World? He couldn't have expected much from a God who had cast him out so viciously, into a cruel earth.

Scott M said...

He couldn't have expected much from a God who had cast him out so viciously, into a cruel earth.

He had one single rule to follow. One. And he screwed it up. Else we'd all still be playing nude beach volleyball with hot angels today. No toiling involved besides which hot spring party to go to tonight.

One rule and they screwed it up. No wonder they had to extend the date analog switched to digital tv despite two years of previous warning. Humans, apparently, just can't get their shit together.

vbspurs said...

ScottM wrote:

He had one single rule to follow. One. And he screwed it up. Else we'd all still be playing nude beach volleyball with hot angels today. No toiling involved besides which hot spring party to go to tonight.

Not only that, Scott, but then God sent unto Moses 10 Commandments which He wanted descendants of his original miscreant to follow.

And do we? Well, DO WE? Hellz no!

We humans are just plain no good.

edutcher said...

My God, this is the same Paul Ehrlich rot we heard in the 70s. Well, just as well.

The Lefties will stop having kids altogether and the Conservatives will keep popping them out like Sarah Palin.

vbspurs said...

What if you knew you would live for another 100 or 200 years? How would you prepare? Would you work on your survivalist skills? Would you acquire real estate in the far north?

Adam lived to be over 900 years old. He and Eve had Cain and Abel when they were 100 years old, and I believe Seth very close to his death.

Did Adam prepare for the End of the World? He couldn't have expected much from a God who had cast him out so viciously, into a cruel earth.


The ones to ask were Lot and his daughters. The Adams just relocated to a warmer, dryer cliamte. The Lots had just watched God nuke what must have seemed like half the world.

MadisonMan said...

Did Sendak sleep through the 60s? Or the Arms race?

I try not to worry about things I cannot change, and apocalyptic changes rank up there with things I can't change. If I *were* to worry, the first thing I'd would be acquire farm property and dig a well.

Amy said...

Have you ever heard the expression, "There's nothing sadder than an old queen?" Well, it immediately came to mind when I read the article.

OT, I have toured the museum several times. It is small and lovely and has a very enjoyable exhibit of his works. Have not seen the mural though.

vbspurs said...

Edutcher wrote:

The ones to ask were Lot and his daughters. The Adams just relocated to a warmer, dryer cliamte. The Lots had just watched God nuke what must have seemed like half the world.

And don't forget Noah, the Ark builder! I guess that makes him the world's first bomb shelter alarmist.

vbspurs said...

Hehe, Edutcher. "The Adams". Love it.

edutcher said...

We live to swerve, mum.

Carol_Herman said...

Here's a story of a man who lived a thousand years. (I think it's a Chinese story.)

There's nothing left of him but his voice. And, this is carried around in a bird cage.

skiityle

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I think that all people who are getting old and reaching the end of their lives feel this sadness and hopelessness in some ways.

People around you are dead and gone. Everyone who knew you as a younger man/woman has passed on. Life as you know it has changed and moved on from what is comfortable for you.

When times are hard, as they are now and as they have been in the past you will fear for your children, grandchildren and the continuity of society. This is normal. It doesn't mean that we should stop living and procreating.

Perhaps the difference in attitudes of dispair and sadness are between those who have children and those that do not.

When you have children and grandchildren, you see the continuity of life and continue to hope.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Pretend I spelt despair correctly.

edutcher said...

I think you make a good point about children, DBQ.

It may also be that the ones who never had kids are more self-centered generally.

msm55skm said...

Being on the backside of life, an surviving an apocalypse or SHTF, EOTWAWKI events gives me a little more time to live in the next misery. I'm already pissed. Living like that would turn me criminal. What I am really doing is preparing my kids and especially grandkids. In the meantime, fight like he'll in their behalf, not mine.

Ralph L said...

Why would really old people want longer, colder winters?

Scott M said...

Why would really old people want longer, colder winters?

Because the old move about as fast as zombies, which freeze solid during cold winters.

ricpic said...

Human beings can't stand disorder for an extended length of time. In other words even if we're going into a crisis that crisis will be resolved in a matter of years, 5 years, 10 at the outside. Which means you'll have to learn how to paddle in rough water, but not like forever.

Rockeye said...

How this question will be answered depends on this: does everyone get to live to 200, or just me?
If everyone then no worries, unless that is one would rather not live in a world more conservative than a Jerry Falwell wet dream.
If it is just me living so long, then I'm going to accumulate portable intellectual and physical capital. I'll wonder just how I'll hide my true age from (I would suspect) an increasingly suspicious government. I imagine I would also become almost a living fossil, with 1980's mores living in a 2080 world. All in all a fascinating question for friends to sit around and discuss. I wonder how many will realize that the answers to this question are the answers to the question "how should I live my life today?"

bagoh20 said...

"What if you knew you would live for another 100 or 200 years?"

I'd take a long shower.

The CA lottery used to have commercials showing fictional people's reaction just after finding out they won millions. My favorite was a guy who just steps into the shower and smiles as the warm water flows over him. I thought it was perfect.

I want so bad to live much much longer. I've had a great life so far, and when I'm doing something I really enjoy and feeling the bliss, there is always a tinge of sadness in the back of my mind knowing it will all end. I don't want more money, friends, respect, love or happiness. I just want more time. I can handle the rest.

Mary said...
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Mary said...
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madAsHell said...

"It may also be that the ones who never had kids are more self-centered generally."

Kids make a big difference as my crystal starts to flash.....yes, it's a Logan's Run reference.

Revenant said...

What if you knew you would live for another 100 or 200 years?

I plan to live a lot longer than that.

Sure, everybody else has died of old age, but I don't bow to peer pressure.

Revenant said...

Human beings can't stand disorder for an extended length of time. In other words even if we're going into a crisis that crisis will be resolved in a matter of years, 5 years, 10 at the outside.

Just because humans can't stand something doesn't mean it won't happen anyway. There are plenty of places on Earth that have been a complete clusterfuck for generations.

Scott M said...

There are plenty of places on Earth that have been a complete clusterfuck for generations.

Granted, but you have to acknowledge that Detroit is an isolated case, right?

paul a'barge said...

We (humanity) have been through worse. Far worse.

Israel went 400 years without G-d talking to them.

Unless this is the end times, we'll get through this.

Either way, cheer up, right?

John Lynch said...

Interesting question.

OK, say we can live that long. How then will we die?

Probably by accident. Over that long a timescale the chance of being in a fatal car crash or falling in the tub get much higher. Essentially, we'd be dying for the same reason young people die- accident, suicide, and homicide.

So, a person who would live that long would be careful and lucky.

A second problem is that most people form their worldview fairly young. Most people outlive the utility of their worldview. Everyone knows an old person who is simply unable to keep up with the times. That would be very hard to avoid for someone living 200 years.

So, a long lived person would have to be flexible.

Lastly, speaking to the topic, SOMETHING catastrophic will happen eventually. Back to the first and second point, a careful, flexible person will have a backup plan in case things go badly.

Actually, for WHEN they go bad. The 20th century had two world wars and civil wars all over the planet. Almost nowhere turned out to be safe. Europe's great powers at the beginning of the century burned. Clearly, being able to plan for contingencies and being flexible enough to split hen things get bad would be important.

Most old people can't do either. They've made their choices, they are happy with them, and they aren't going to be around much longer so why not live with the consequences?

Like Harry Truman on Spirit Lake. It's very human. It's not the way to live for 200 years.

John Lynch said...

Oh, and my standard comment about old Boomers.

They mistake their own mortality for the death of the entire cosmos.

Life will go on without you.

bagoh20 said...

If you are lucky enough to be an American, you have little to complain about except that so many need you while they hate you, and that there is little you can do about it, because that's part of what being an American is. If we weren't so lucky they wouldn't need us nor hate us. I'm glad to be an American, not proud, extremely grateful - it was pure luck. We're all like Obama in that way.

jimbino said...

Damn, I guess I'd have to put off my carefully laid plans to off all those corrupt politicians, cops, prosecutors, and judges, knowing full well that their ranks would only swell in the ensuing 100 or so years before I got another pre-deathbead chance.

bagoh20 said...

I have a classic American point of view. I can fix anything with enough time.

Michael K said...

When you have children and grandchildren, you see the continuity of life and continue to hope.

I made the mistake of saying something like this to a gay guy I knew. His reply was not pleasant. Another gay guy I knew and liked a lot wanted to adopt a child. Unfortunately, he went in the first wave of AIDS.

My current problem is looking at what is happening right now and wondering how my kids and grandkids are going to survive the crash that is coming.

On the other hand, I have gone to some tea party rallies and, contrary to media BS, have noted how many young people, especially mothers, are there. Maybe the people will rise up and take back their government. There were two Great Awakenings in American history and they involved mostly evangelical religious revivals. The third may be political. Here is a guy who thinks there have been four but what does he know ? He's only an economics Nobel laureate.

Oligonicella said...

Dust Bunny Queen --

"I think that all people who are getting old and reaching the end of their lives feel this sadness and hopelessness in some ways."

Not all, I don't. Never felt more happy and give-a-shitless in my life.

List of dead people is well over a dozen, including my younger brother. Children? Grandchildren? Got 'em both.

I've never understood the despair and sadness thing.

Coketown said...

Sendak has always been a nihilist nostalgic for the past--when the world had purpose. "Where the Wild Things Are" was his magnum opus on this theme. The man's been on his deathbed probably since he was born.

This is why kids like the book but never cherish it. The motif of consequence free-anarchy rings hollow even for children. It's also why the movie was so intolerable. It wasn't a kids story. It wasn't an adult story. It was a story for adults mourning the loss of adolescence. Thirty-five year olds who think their best years are behind them, and who probably have a pair of feety pajamas they keep around for blue times.

Good-bye, Maurice. Let the rumpus end.

Ralph L said...

Life will go on without you
Not as we know it. We're going to bankrupt you with massive, insatiable demands for money and healthcare. Sorry about that.

ricpic said...

Israel went 400 years without G-d talking to them.

Israel: A little rachmones, G-d. Return the ball, willya? We're in dispair.

G-d: I told DBQ and now I'm telling you: sloppy spellers are not worthy! Goes hand in hand with sloppy thinking. Next stop Baal worship. Sharpen up! Genug shoyn.

The Crack Emcee said...

Scott M, I'm not getting into this with you but I do want to make this point:

He had one single rule to follow. One. And he screwed it up.

He did not - it was a set-up.

AKA "God's plan".

Yet another reason why religious believers are chumps.

Scott M said...

First of all, it was a joke. Secondly, since you brought it up and straining my memory of Genesis, in the story...

He knew the rule. Eve was convinced by the serpent to eat the apple. She brought it to him and convinced him to eat it.

Doesn't matter the circumstances by which the choice was given to him. He made the choice.

Am I to believe that you're making him out to be the victim?

Revenant said...

The 20th century had two world wars and civil wars all over the planet. Almost nowhere turned out to be safe.

And the odd thing is that the 20th century was actually the safest century yet, overall.

John Lynch said...

Revenant-

Yeah, as far as war. Not so much in terms of governments murdering their own people.

Coketown said...

@John Lynch: Yes, but as Eddie Izzard points out, people seem to be okay with governments murdering their own people. It's when they murder the people of other countries that everyone makes a fuss.

Hence! Hitler: bad; Pol Pot, Stalin, and Mao: good.

Scott M said...

Yes, but as Eddie Izzard points out

Jeff Vader rocks.

"Kill your own people? Go right ahead. We've been trying to kill you for years. Hitler tried to kill people next door...oh, stupid man. After three or four years, we won't put up with that anymore."

"Cake or death? ...you Nazi shithead"

In a recent interview on Raw Dog (Sirius/XM), Izzard says he can see himself getting out of comedy and going into British politics. He didn't seem to be ironic when he said it.

Coketown said...

@Scott: I heard that, too. Politics seems to be a natural impulse for celebrities. Part of me wishes he'd stick to comedy, but another part of me hates the direction he's been going lately, all political and anti-religion. His "Dress to Kill" routine is probably my favorite.

"England, what's that behind your back?"
"It's, err, India and a few other countries."
"Well, put them back."

Scott M said...

I've seen him live for the last three albums prior to Stripped. Saw him again for that one, but left during the intermission.

Babs said...

My grandfather was sure the End was Near in 1957 because of television, Elvis Presley, and Sputnik. He quoted Revelations a lot and scared me to death. Now I know how he felt but Revelations still scares me so I watch shows on the History Channel about Nostradamus and 2012:The End of Days. Thinking about planting a garden....

Mark said...

I actually think the next ten years are going to be bad. Not apocalyptic, but bad.

MarkG at the beginning of the thread nailed one aspect of Sendak's whine; the world has always been about to end for a significant portion of the population. And that most of the time it's simply foolishness.

Yet crises happen, and in retrospect they always seem inevitable, even as in real time the fools always walk off the cliff.

Megan McCardle wrote a good brief on missing the signs. Right now we're putting a lot of stress on our economic system from a lot of different directions. If it becomes significantly more expensive for the U.S. to finance debt, all bets are off on what happens next.

If I were to live another 100 years, I'm sure in 90 of those I'd see the coming crisis as a blip, recovered from quickly enough. While it's happening, I'm pretty sure it's not going to be much fun.

But hey, I'm still glad my breeder wife and I have our twins. So Sendak, sit and spin on it.

bgates said...

One thing I wouldn't worry about would be getting people to believe me. If I say I'm 230 years old, everyone should just accept it. If anyone asks for documentation it would be racist.

Kirk Parker said...

tradguy,

Which "perpetual state of violent crimes" are you talking about? Outside a few specific h*llh*les like Chicago, DC, and New Orleans, violent crime rates are way down from their peak.

vbspurs said...

If the world didn't end after Hitler, Hiroshima, and Stalin 1939-1945, it won't end for a LOOOONG time. Those years were the epitome of "the worst of times" for humanity. Nothing comes close.

PS: Plant that garden, Babs. Just be sure to share your tomatoes with us!

David said...

The world has always been uncertain and dangerous. This comes as a great shock to many. Others never figure it out. Still others base their livelihood on the false notion that all this uncertainty can be eliminated.

Mr. Sendak has created a nice little pocket of joy in this uncertain world, even though his refuge was a fantasy. Too bad he is dying with this on his mind. Perhaps his final journey will have a happy ending.

I would prepare to live 100-200 more years by learning Chinese.

Revenant said...

Yeah, as far as war. Not so much in terms of governments murdering their own people.

Even when you take that into account. Between wars and governments killing their own people we're looking at around 175 million governmental murders during the 20th century. That's a lot. But when you consider that somewhere around 14 BILLION people lived all or part of their lives during the 20th century, it isn't a lot in percentage terms. The historical average for violent death is something like an order of magnitude greater than that.

bagoh20 said...

I want to die quick, but not soon. Violence is your friend. Compassionate, efficient violence - I'd like to make an appointment.

Gene said...

Maurice Sendak once said the reason he works so hard is to distract himself from thinking about death. There's no escape from the human condition, he said. The best you can do is not think about it.

Stan said...

Why would you want to freeze your ass off? Go to Florida. Talk up global warming until some idiot gives up his beach house cheap.

Pay for your retirement by betting against Paul Erlich and Jim Hansen.

The Crack Emcee said...

Scott M,

First of all, it was a joke.

My bad, didn't catch that.

Secondly, since you brought it up and straining my memory of Genesis, in the story...

He knew the rule. Eve was convinced by the serpent to eat the apple. She brought it to him and convinced him to eat it.


Great - God the tease.

Doesn't matter the circumstances by which the choice was given to him. He made the choice.

By an omnipotent God who could think of nothing better to do than fuck with his head. Now that's love.

Am I to believe that you're making him out to be the victim?

What else could he be? He's got God fucking with his head, a temptress - also put there by God - and the source of his downfall - also provided by God, which God didn't have to do, because he supposedly loved him.

Talk about your bad relationships, that has to be the worst.

Michael K said...

My grandfather was sure the End was Near in 1957 because of television, Elvis Presley, and Sputnik

I was just about as sure after I read "On the Beach" by Neville Shute. It scared me so bad I almost dropped out of college. I did kind of slide along for a couple of years. I was 19 and a sophomore when I read it. I still cannot reread it.

I don't get depressed about being older, not even when I have a few health issues. I sure wouldn't want to be guy in college now with all the uncertainty with sex and the student loans and crappy future. I was in college when you could really "work your way through." I went to a private university whose tuition was approximately $250/ semester.

I didn't have much money but it didn't take much. I didn't get laid very much but I also didn't get brought up before kangaroo courts when girls changed their minds.

I don't think my children will see as prosperous a country as I did. If Obama is re-elected, and he could be, we will see a ten year depression. Since my family has longevity in our genes, I will probably see it, too. My older kids are well into adulthood, the oldest is 46, but my youngest, who is 21 next month, will probably have to emigrate. She is preparing to.

Fred4Pres said...

The best defense is to follow the advice of Robert DeNiro in Heat. Be able to leave if things get bad. People get screwed by waiting too long if things start getting bad (i.e., Katrina, the Holocaust, etc., etc.).

Fred4Pres said...

Then again, let the wild rumpus begin!

Rumpus, Rumpus, Rumpus!

el polacko said...

if you're paying attention at all, you realize that nothing changes...the same stupid shit keeps happening over and over and over again (with each new generation thinking that they've discovered something new)... you see that the human race hasn't ever really 'advanced' at all and never will... so you,eventually, just can't take it anymore, throw up your hands, and give up the ghost.

HKatz said...

Secondly, since you brought it up and straining my memory of Genesis, in the story...

It's a complex story on many levels.

One level could represent the transition from people existing in a more child-like state to one of adulthood - with its pains, troubles and potential for evil, but also the struggle to grow and forge a strong character in the face of challenges (and to perceive beauty and uncover goodness even when it's often hidden). It can be seen as a stage of development.

A young child might be content to quietly enjoy the closeness of the parent, the security of a carefully ordered life. But the older the child gets the more risks they take, the more they want to explore, the more they make their own choices - and make mistakes, including big mistakes. They often ignore the wisdom of the parent and learn things the hard way instead - take the long hard road when they might have listened. But they can still walk this road and find their way back to a good existence.

Along the way they might yearn for that lost security of childhood... they hope to find it for themselves as adults, or something like it; hopefully they develop the security of a strong character, living life as best they can (repairing what they can in the world and in themselves) and striving to keep standing on their own two feet for as long as they're able.

When people chose to disobey in the story of Eden, they didn't cast themselves into some irrevocable downfall (I write also as someone who doesn't subscribe to the doctrine of "original sin"). They aren't without power to right wrongs, to confront evil, to elevate and refine themselves, and to bring new life into the world. It's more difficult though; life is uncertain. Each period of life comes with its challenges, and meaningful things are hard won.

We aren't children - we have to face this struggle, this uncertainty, be responsible for ourselves, keep ourselves accountable for our actions and as good as we can be. Live as adults.

Sendak says: "We've lost the knack of living in the world with the sensation of safety."

I'm not sure what he means by sensation of safety. That could be something good (like love or an inner strength), or something misleading or false. A lot of times in history a "sensation of safety" has been a sense of complacency and false security... nothing can go wrong (right before something does); it's been an excuse to turn a blind eye to evil. When has life ever been 100% safe? This sense of safety is something people want so much they pretend it exists to make themselves feel good and to spare themselves the effort of vigilance and prevention. They don't want to confront their fears and the dangers that close in on them.

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