December 18, 2012

"It's an argument with which older, calmer people needle the emotional young."

I wrote in the previous post. Meade asks: "Did you mean 'the emotionally young'?"

No, I'm not insulting anyone for emotional immaturity. I'm characterizing young people as more emotionally raw. They're not emotionally young, they're emotional, as is typical of the young. Note that I referred to "older, calmer people."

It's like that Cat Stevens song, "Father and Son." We hear the calm voice of the man who's "old... but happy," saying "it's not time to make a change," and one ought to "relax" and put much more time into thinking and learning. Then — at 1:24 — Stevens suddenly switches to the young man's voice, and he's so wound up and emotional. He can't deal with his father at all, he's sick of the same old thing, and he's got to run away. The old man returns at 2:44 ("sit down, take it slowly"), and the young man again at 3:15 ("All the times I have cried...").

***

Please keep the comments on topic. I want none of the usual diatribes about Cat Stevens's religious notions relating to fatwa and so forth. Let me just say in advance, I will delete anything in that category along with discussion of this decision to delete, though you're welcome to discuss any of that in the next or the last open thread. Or click on the Cat Stevens tag and revisit all the times we've already done that.

35 comments:

Scott said...

It doesn't seem like a topic. It seems like a pontification. What do you want to discuss, exactly?

Shouting Thomas said...

OK, I'll take a swipe.

Lack of experience is a better way to explain the young person's response.

When I talk to a young person about some human problem that has existed for, say, 5,000 years (as most have), I start with the assumption that that problem is probably pretty damned difficult to resolve.

The young person's response is likely to be...

1. No, it's easy to resolve.
2. All you have to do is this (whatever it is).
3. The reason you won't agree to this resolution is because you are motivated, for some strange reason (racism, sexism, etc.), to want the problem to persist.
4. Problems are easy solve. The fact that I can reason out a solution means that that solution will work.

The young want novelty, as you've stated. They don't want to believe that they are, essentially, the same as their parents and grandparents, fated to struggle with the human condition. Neither did I when I was young.

Greybeard said...

Sit down.
Take it slowly.

Mitchell the Bat said...

The limbic system has a tough time spotting the difference between a proposition and a tiger.

Fprawl said...

I am having a hard time parsing this.
Older people (60) think they are young but act calmer and less raw unless you count the guy yelling at those kids to get off his lawn, which tips the scales against the song with anecdotes, not statistics, which would seem to bear the song out.
Yuk.

It's a good thing Meade is around to discuss things with a Law Professor and I am glad I don't have to.

I would like an explanation of the 'Law of Perpetuity' vis' a' vie my family trust sometime.

OOPs, DELETE.


EMD said...

Is there a reason you still call him Cat Stevens?

traditionalguy said...

The issue is human satisfaction.

The emotional "I can't get no satisfaction" state of the young asserts a missing element without which one must strive for it.

That is good because it e-motions the young into leaving home and starting their own families to get the missing pieces.

It is problematic when it e-motions them into a collective family/gang being mislead by messages crafted by crafty adults, such as Charles Manson or Barack Obama.

The older reach a mature level where they feel that nothing is missing and they are content with what they have.

The Hebrew concept shalom, often translated peace, means that nothing is missing and all is complete.

And the game goes on. The time of dying transition can be quite peaceful if one's faith does not see it as a loss but a transition on into eternal life.

Bruce Hayden said...

Hopefully, not OT enough, but I was struck here by the similarity with Ann's post a day or two ago: "What is the gun community going to do about this tragedy?"

"I dunno. What is the gay community going to do about Penn State?”


It was the absurdity of Reynolds' first comparison that was intended to make the second one ridiculous too. But, we found so many people responding emotionally to the first one (on homosexuality and homosexual rape at Penn State), that they were never able to get to the second one. And, yes, maybe in a decade or two, they will be able to see the humor, and, therefore appreciate the argument.

Nonapod said...

As cynical as it sounds sometimes I wish the voting age were raised to 35.

It's not that older people are any smarter. It's just that they tend to be less impulsive and more likely to be able to step back and understand a given problem from more than one position.

Bruce Hayden said...

One of the things that has been somewhat recently discovered is that brain development does not complete until we are in our mid-20s, and the last part of our brains to fully mature is judgment. Before then, one of the big problems young adults face is that they are responding more emotionally to stimuli than intellectually and rationally. Which means that most of these Princeton students were probably a half a decade away from full physical maturity in this respect.

Another thing though that we get with maturity is a much greater depth of experience, and, with it, the realization that many things are not nearly as simple as they appear on the surface. Plus, the corollary realization that past societal norms, etc. often have time-tested value, developed over the millenia, with the societies adopting such flourishing and those not failing to do so.

Which gets me to my final point, which is that the last election, to me, was the triumph of the emotional over the intellectual. Whenever I heard the Obama campaign slogan "Forward", I had a vision of a bunch of lemmings marching off a cliff. On the one side, we had emotional adults telling us that we were marching off the financial cliff, needed to do something big to stop us from doing so, and laid out plans to start solving the problem. And, on the other side, we seemed to have different emotional groups rushing off that cliff for their own emotional reasons, the young adults because going forward is always better than knowing where you are going, single women to protect their lady parts and get their $10 a month free contraceptives, Blacks because Obama was one of theirs (despite being half white and having none of the shared Black experience), Jews because the evil Christianists are out to eat their babies (and, yes, I am serious about the fact that a lot of the Jews I talked to throughout October were reacting completely emotionally by the time of the election, hyperventilating about fundamental Christians, and ignoring the fiscal and Israeli concerns that usually dominate their thinking), etc. And, yes, I think that the emotional lemmings won the election by marching "Forward" off the cliff.

edutcher said...

I'd say it has less to do with emotionally young than intellectually unsophisticated.

Maybe I'm sheltered, but it seems the average kid today is pretty dull.

Bruce Hayden said...

One of the things that has been somewhat recently discovered is that brain development does not complete until we are in our mid-20s

Which is why the insurance actuaries make sure insurance rates are high until you're 25.

Steve Koch said...

Cat Stevens was my favorite singer for a long time. Too bad he stopped singing.

Robert said...

Dear Professor Althouse,

I sense a subtle shift in the direction of your posts lately that I enjoy. It is towards analyzing/deconstructing words and phrases for origination, interpretation and meaning. I had just finished this post when I went to this article at AT (http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/12/the_only_way_to_stop_school_shootings.html) and found the delightful word - HOPLOPHOBIA . Followed it and found an interesting essay on its origins. That got me to thinking about the author who had a P.E. extension on his name, really unusual. Further research I ended up at (http://world-o-crap.blogspot.com/2011/12/harry-potter-and-crappy-analogy.html) because of the topic and the name of the blog. Halfway through the light bulb lit up – saying History Does Repeats Itself is true. I found this delightful little post on Parallelism and Fate (http://humboldtsclio.blogspot.com/2007/06/in-abstract-parallelism-in-history-and.html). I put your recent work in the same category as Walter Russel Meade and Victor David Hanson. Trying to parallel current trends to what has happened in the past. Interesting that you can find parallelisms in music. So my question to you is: Have you consciously or unconsciously shifted to doing more analytical deconstruction of written/verbal communications of interest or is it just me? It is good no matter what the answer.

sydney said...

I wish with age there always comes wisdom, but it isn't necessarily so. It seems to me, as I observe my patient population age over the past 20 years, that too often the worst personality traits become more honed and to the forefront. The misanthropic become moreso. The only person I know who got better as he aged was my father-in-law. But I think he had a very stressful young adulthood and middle-age. It was only in old age that he could put away his anxieties.

Carol said...

People really are more emotional now. It's the style. Group hugs, sobbing for the cameras, screaming and squealing in public. Young guys in pursuit of booze and drugs strike me as being really uptight - what gives?

Contrast the behavior at a modern rock concert with a folk concert in the early 60s - college kids sitting so still and politely clapping after the song. Now they would be standing, dancing, waving their arms, passing the weed, hollering.

I guess the goal was to live all *in the moment* and we sure as hell did that.

Steve Koch said...

sydney,

Interesting theory about wisdom. Based on your scientific observations of your patients, at what age do you think wisdom peaks, on average?

Ann Althouse said...

"Have you consciously or unconsciously shifted to doing more analytical deconstruction of written/verbal communications of interest or is it just me?"

I think you'll find that in my posts all along. Click on the "language" tag or "rhetoric," "grammar," or "spelling."

But I figured out how to use my access to the OED and that's been really helpful lately.

Makes me want to look right now for a word to use as an entry point...

Chuck Currie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chuck Currie said...

I love your ability to recall a song, and its lyrics (even if you cheat), to add color to a topic. It seems very tribal (in a good way) - educating the young through song/poem, even if it's fantasy or a myth, it still has purpose.

Why do we still call Cat Stevens, Cat Stevens? I suppose it's the same reason we don't call him Steven Demetre Georgiou, it's the name on the record label. If he had continued writing/recording/performing as Yusuf Islam, I suppose we would be referring to him as Yusuf Islam, as we have Lou Alcindor and Cassius Clay.

Cheers

phx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
whoresoftheinternet said...

lol. Easy Annie A, the abortion lover, 1984-ing history again, especially criticism of her stupidity.

Left wing propaganda, everyone!
(Prepares for deletion. No one must question left wing propagandists!)

southcentralpa said...

Dunno if this on or off topic, but just how much of the ridiculousness of the 60s might've been avoided if the Romantics had not been in eclipse in the late 50s/early60s? Students well-versed in, say, Wordsworth would've been less inclined to take all the twaddle at face value ...

(which is not to say that cowardice might not still have been a mover in helping the North Vietnamese win on the American home front)

Dust Bunny Queen said...

One of the things that has been somewhat recently discovered is that brain development does not complete until we are in our mid-20s

"Which is why the insurance actuaries make sure insurance rates are high until you're 25."

And why the military [cannon fodder] are young and the older [and supposedly calmer] old men are behind the lines.

Bruce Hayden makes some very good points.

The young are emotional for several reasons. One being biological. The other is lack of experience and lifetime comparisons. The old tend to be calmer and more deliberative because they are not full of raging hormones and have perspective.

That being said, there certainly seem to be a lot of emotionally young older people who are out marching for "union rights", punching people in the face and in general making giant assholes of themselves. Our society has allowed the emotional young to be able to morph into emotionally young oldsters. In previous times, the emotionally and reacting old farts would have been eliminated through attrition or by consensus of the community.

Steve Koch said...

whoresoftheinternet said...
"lol. Easy Annie A, the abortion lover, 1984-ing history again, especially criticism of her stupidity. Left wing propaganda, everyone!
(Prepares for deletion. No one must question left wing propagandists!)"

I may be totally misunderstanding your point (apologies in advance if that is the case).

There is often good reason to ignore an artist's politics when discussing his art because the politics can sidetrack the discussion away from the art. Everything doesn't have to be about politics is a conservative attitude.

BTW, "Tea for the Tillerman" was a great album.

sydney said...

Steven Koch asked:

Based on your scientific observations of your patients, at what age do you think wisdom peaks, on average?

I would say somewhere around the mid-50's. There is a very steep decline in most people between 70 and 75. Almost universal at 75 with very few exceptions.

Steve Koch said...

sydney,

Very interesting, thanks. On average, how would you characterize the period between mid 50's and 70? Is that a slow steady decline?

BTW, in your response could you focus on considered judgement as opposed to happiness, eccentricity, energy, intelligence, real time decision making, living a healthy life style with proper health maintenance?

Chuck Currie said...

Steven Koch asked:
Based on your scientific observations of your patients, at what age do you think wisdom peaks, on average?

Sydney replies:
I would say somewhere around the mid-50's. There is a very steep decline in most people between 70 and 75. Almost universal at 75 with very few exceptions.

And yet, we have no age limit on SCOTUS justices. What a laugh.

Cheers

Chuck Currie said...

What biological changes have occurred in the human species (especially the male gender), that we have gone from a 22 year old who had not been more than a few hundred miles away from his home, who led tens of thousands on a journey to concur, and explore, the known, and unknown, world, to the unemployed, unproductive 30 year old living in his parents basement, playing shoot-em-up video games?

Cheers

Steve Koch said...

That would be cultural differences not biological differences.

Who was the 22 year old? My swags are either Alex the Great or Genghis Khan.

sydney said...

It is a slow decline from 55-70. Much more rapid after 70.

Most of the decline is in comprehension and decision making. Also, pesonality quirks, especially bad ones, become more prominent. Someone who may have slight paranoid tendencies become so paranoid it almost becomes a personality disorder rather than a trait. The greedy are greedier, etc. I have rarely seen the happy become happier, or the pleasant become more pleasant. They seem to have to work harder to hold on to those good traits as they age.

Chuck Currie,
Yes, that lack of age limit in justices and judges bothers me sometimes. I have had patients get out of jury duty because they were over 85 but there are judges sitting on the bench who are older than 85.

Crunchy Frog said...

Slow down, you're moving too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kick it down the cobble stones
Lookin' for fun and feelin' groovy

Bob said...

The wisdom of "Father and Son" is borne out by this: When I first heard that song I was 19. Then, all of the son's statements resonated, like "From the moment I could talk, I was ordered to listen." Couldn't understand the "stay, stay, stay" from the father.

Now I'm 61, and when I listen today it's all reversed. How wise the father seems when he says "take your time, think a lot, think of everything you've got."

Bob said...

The wisdom of "Father and Son" is borne out by this: When I first heard that song I was 19. Then, all of the son's statements resonated, like "From the moment I could talk, I was ordered to listen." Couldn't understand the "stay, stay, stay" from the father.

Now I'm 61, and when I listen today it's all reversed. How wise the father seems when he says "take your time, think a lot, think of everything you've got."

SteveR said...

BTW, "Tea for the Tillerman" was a great album.

I agree but the last word would belong to Steve Simels or Robert Cook. But I repeat myself.

Chuck Currie said...

Steve Koch: Alex

The brain is biological, the mind is cultural.

Cheers