by Wayness Tamm-Clattuc
“[G]reater numbers of the sheerly old means more and more expensive querulousness, not insight.”
Something I noted in response to my posting the other day makes me think of the “Get Ready” man from James Thurber’s hometown of Columbus. He was always calling out the end of the world, for instance from darkened theater balconies during performances of Shakespeare…and “Charlie’s Aunt”. It made for an eerie counterpoint altogether, writes Thurber of this boyhood memory of 1910 or so. Now, a hundred years on cgm68 wrote:
“Hi. Didn’t somebody here write that the Hispanic drug gangs will be the new drug providers to aging boomers now that the pharmaceutical companies and doctors have priced themselves out of the market? And that they will become respectable members of American society that way? What about the law? Anybody who tries this will be busted, practicing medicine without a license and so on. Maybe it will be just sheer force of numbers that will finally swamp law enforcement so badly they’ll cave in. It’ll be our kids though, who are ‘inheriting the wind’ and they will have a really basic need to be rid of us. I mean as a generational thing that can’t be entirely disguised by talk of love and all that.”
cgm68 makes a very complex point full of implications:
Many if not most autarkic traditional cultures that gather all their own sustenance in overall frameworks of “bad year economics” have the idea, it is embedded in their myth and the resulting ethical teachings usually conveyed as stories, that the old will ask to be left behind in the desert or on the ice. We are not that ethical, least of all in our own terms. So I think that our children and grandchildren will not resent so much the lost income (if they are doctors and RX executives) or other external problems so much as our simply continuing to get in the way.
This is a deeper problem of the real continuity life through time than who pays for what now.
After all, the loudmouth politicians and managers all must, and they will, bow down to death too. The great creative problems of all the human social setups demand twice over that the generations must surrender at the end of their runs. Therefore the last individual creative problem in life is making a good death of it. It is really not at all a simpleminded question of evading death awhile longer by running to this doctor and pharmacy or that.
Whether the doctor or drugstore is licensed and legal, white (sic) or Hispanic simply does not enter in, except in this instance in terms of the historical transformation of a formerly despised class. (That perception by the way, of a particular destiny for Hispanic Americans, I think of course is simply more likely than not.)
Again, I must emphasize that this is really just not a question of the neurotic victor-children generation’s hopeless attempt at evading death awhile longer by running to this doctor and pharmacy or that. That of course is darkly comical and shows up utterly the babyishness of our gray hairs. Maybe Woody Allen really could do something with it! Some will note of course that the old are supposedly wise and to be valued. After all, in the traditional setups who is it that tells the stories to the young better than the grandparents? However, in the old human way of life until modern (technological) times, who lived to grow old was a great matter of luck of course. But good fortune itself was regarded not unreasonably as a token of superior spiritual power, for it certainly favored the alert and intelligent. I am saying that the pre-modern old then probably were indeed wise, life-wise anyway, or at least wiser than the average of their respective generations when young. You simply had to be pretty much on the ball to even get that far!
Now of course that matter of relative value of the numerous aged is, exactly, a matter of inflation. It is exactly analogous to the inflation of money because it is part of the historical phenomena of decadent periods: greater numbers of the sheerly old means more and more expensive querulousness, not insight.
The gains in insight of a few elderly it is implied thus are to be taken “on average”, spread like too little butter over too much bread. This is nonetheless about wholly useless as any source of benefit for those thronging peers among the old-aged of today — the majority of the old, I mean — who have thus far escaped insight all their lives long, are jolly well not interested in this stuff now (“Death? Ugh! YOU’RE obsessed!”), and the result of overvaluing the simply-there-old irresponsibly deprives the young. It is the young after all, and not the mass of uneducable old, who are the proper recipients of such elder wisdom as there may be found, in this case in the gloomy study of a half-century or sixty-four years of gluttony.
Naturally as we lay dying we all hope for the compassion of our offspring.
If we are individually wise, though, responsibly we will make that a request for the lethal dose of morphine sooner rather than later. I write this with a heavy heart, naturally, as anyone who knows human history and nature realizes there will be in any case quite a few murders in the course of the death of the 1946-64 generation. Call it iatrogenesis, call it “benign neglect”, the thinking person will realize that an outraged emotional resistance to this appalling fact so justified in the first half of life may, now, not be entirely justified. It is instead a matter of real feeling, the sure feeling for what is really important now, and in all the years ahead we shall not see. Contrary to the American idea, “the future” only used to be about US….
In the end all that one who is herself nearing the end of life honestly has to say, to anyone, is:
[all rights revert to holders
[20 September 2010]