Thinking about 'Old'

When people ask me what sort of music I listen to, I might say, amongst others, “60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s.” “Oh! Retro.”, they might respond knowingly. “No. ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s.”, I correct them. And if they were to push it with an, “It’s the same thing isn’t it!” Then they’ve asked for it.

Dictionary meanings and social meanings can be two different things. On the surface, ‘retro’ would refer to ‘the past’. There is no other value attributed to it. It is just ‘music that was produced in the past’. But when humanity fell for the religious belief that ‘we are living in modern’ times - excluding ed - this meant that quite a few words begin to mean something else as well. For instance, ‘elders’ became ‘old’. ‘Retro’ became ‘kitsch’, ‘passe’, ‘old’, and all of these words became interchangeable terms as well. That’s what happens when people are led to believe that we are living in ‘modern’ times; that we have reached the shores of enlightened times unlike the ‘medieval past’. So since contemporary times = better, all that is past is not, including the ‘past’ that took place in ‘modern’ times as well.

I can understand why the ‘old’ were perceived as ‘elders’ in the past. The economic situation back then was quite static, and it was the elders whom would be the experts in all things unchanging - which was just about the case in all things. But in ‘modern’ times, the economic situation is ever-changing. Technology is constantly advancing; competition is ever-evolving; and the means of communication is constantly changing. And with this, people are increasingly becoming ‘model employees’ who have their interest, initiative, and imagination, (what i call the 3 I’s) monopolised by their work experience. Outside, they are no better than morons who think they are not simply because everyone else is like them, and think that they are intelligent human beings because they can f*ck and feed their genes into the next generation. Animals can do as much without depleting the ozone layer or being part of a ‘superior’ civilisation mate. (which is one of the reasons why i never find another having a baby as reason for congratulation.)

The quintessential feature of being youthful is being open to new ideas and spheres of interest, as opposed to being appealed to by only that which is instantly or/and incrementally gratifying, or that which translates to a pay-check and an overpriced and undervalued coffee at Starbucks.
But isn’t this how there is an inbuilt mechanism within the capitalist system to ensure that all that is older will never be as preferable to the younger. And as people become more alienated from each other by being trained to view everyone within and without their companies as competitors; can’t afford to be more empathetic toward each other since the boss - be it the government or their immediate bosses - has walked off to her/is Mercedes with most of the profits accrued from their labour; being trained to view everyone from an ‘us vs. them’ perspective through the existence of nation-states, region-states (like the EU, Sinocentric transnational states like China and Singapore emerging from the fascist nature of ‘chinese’ history and culture; or transnational Muslim states comprising people from various muslim countries across the globe arising from western political self-interest.) it is not surprising that people do not view each other as someone to learn from - unless it is to undo them - or listen to. Others as a source of learning and an incitement to critical introspection is weakened. That sets people on a path to intellectual irrelevance the more they become ‘experienced’ at work. Quite the paradox isn’t it.

So you can say that the older one gets, the more bad a name they give to ‘getting old’. And the best they seem to be able to manage is to attempt to look young with the industries that have emerged to add value to people whom are devalued through the socio-economic experience. They are just putting off in appearance what they already are in perspective.

So is it any wonder that the young deem the old as ‘past it’? But it is not only the old whom are old. The young are as well. The quintessential feature of being youthful is being open to new ideas and spheres of interest, as opposed to being appealed to by only that which is instantly or/and incrementally gratifying, or that which translates to a pay-check and an overpriced and undervalued (‘overpriced’ because you are charged too much for it, and ‘undervalued’ because the workers who produced it aren’t being paid enough for it. The devil does his best work through paradoxes.) coffee at Starbucks. I was watching Die Hard 4 last night (video below), and there was this scene when this young bloke is awakened in Bruce Willis’ car by the latter playing Creedence on the radio (‘Creedence’ as in the group, ‘Creedence Clearwater Revival’, or CCR for short). And this young bloke, who is quite the computer whiz and knowledgable about related stuff that Bruce hasn’t a clue about says that it ‘sucks now as it sucks back then’.) My first thought was, ‘how the f*ck does he know it ‘sucked’ back then?! He was yet to be a glint in the eye of the milkman when Creedence was doing their thing! (translation: he wasn’t conceived yet.) I’ve often thought that people who use phrases like, ‘this or that sucks’ haven’t really matured from the time when they needed to do that for nourishment.




'Retro' may be before my time, but that doesn’t mean that it is irrelevant in adding significance to present times. Everything is perspective. There is nothing good or bad about it unless it can be proven to be so.
That’s just it. He may look young. He may be knowledgable in that which Bruce is ignorant, but is that the only argument for ‘youth’? Knowing what the ignorant don’t is not the same as being open in the face of all that one is ignorant about. The latter is the quintessential feature of ‘youth’. And in that, if both their minds can be x-rayed, it will quite certainly show degeneration and decomposition unrivalled by the most advanced cases of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

The thing about the Capitalist system is it thrives on the debility of all. As just about everyone gets dumbed down by investing the bulk of their 3 I’s in ‘work’ they all become increasingly incompetent and are sooner or later replaced with the new and young. The capitalists know that, but don’t have time to allow workers to pause for a sabbatical purposed for the rejuvenation of their youth, knowledge, and thus, wisdom, because of their desire for immediate and constant profits. But even though such ‘old’ workers are incompetent because of this, it’s alright since competition with other companies within their own country and throughout the world is undertaken with similarly retarded people whilst they are all given a boost with constantly incoming and relatively more competent young workers. That’s who the system works. It doesn’t make the most of humanity, but makes the best of the situation given that no other competing system is allowed to exist do better.

if you ask me what my ambition in life is, it is to do what it take so that i’m able to imagine what i’ve yet to imagine to be imaginable.
Being a youth myself, despite appearances, i constantly check myself. Have i learnt anything new within the sphere of my interests this month? Have i learnt anything new outside of the sphere of my interests this month? Have i commented on blogs which talk about things from new angles, or things outside of the sphere of my interest? Have i used my left-hand to shave my head instead of my right? Have i innovated anything that i’m accustomed to doing in a particular way? These, and a host of questions serve as a barrage and barricade against becoming ‘old’ myself. Of course, the downside of such an approach toward life is that you’re probably going find the company of both the young of these times, and old, friend, spouse and family quite irksome. But as i said to a ‘friend’ not too long ago in singapore, if you ask me what my ambition in life is, it is to do what it take so that i’m able to imagine what i’ve yet to imagine to be imaginable. That is the awe everyone is born with it, and one that i vowed to keep in my teen years whilst turning my back on my peers for getting old before their time by gestating within their teenage preoccupations - just as do the old within theirs.

It is within this context that I would say that music of the 60’s to the 80s isn’t ‘retro’. It is just another perspective. To say that it is ‘retro’ is to attribute to it the overarching and relatively derogatory meaning of ‘old’ in ‘modern’ times. 'Retro' may be before my time, but that doesn’t mean that it is irrelevant in adding significance to present times. Everything is perspective. There is nothing good or bad about it unless it can be proven to be so. That requires more than the equation, past=bad or ‘not as good’. Everything is seen with youthful eyes that determines value by contrast and comparison, whilst one’s personality is developed by it to engage in more insightful contrast and comparison. That is the learning curve that truly matures a youth from youth to greater youthfulness as s/he will realise that whatever s/he has yet to know will always be more interesting than what s/he knows.






ed





1 comment:

  1. You are right to point out that the people are increasing being monopolised by their work experience. Another view is that because they get most of the validations at work, , they have ceased to become interested in anything other than work-related activities. Thus, they are not open to new ideas, or appeal to any new interest unless it is related to work or it brings instant gratifications. I have seen my Chinese colleagues displaying such behaviour almost all the time. My European colleagues are especially more interested and curious about new things outside of work, throughout my years of interaction with them. There is greater similarity between the Chinese and American as they are very much more work-focus in their lives. This is just my own personal experience over the past two decades.
    I agree that every thing is perspective. If something in the past is still relevant to the present times, then it is not considered old. And that ’the feature of being youthful is being open to new ideas and spheres of interest’, then we ought to live our lives with open minds and curious hearts.
    Cheers

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