Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?
November 14, 2006
"You have to start over."

In the fall 2006 print and on-line issue of First of the Month, Benj DeMott provides a moving and riveting intellectual portrait of his late father, Benjamin DeMott, who was the author of, among other things, the quite important book, The Imperial Middle: Why Americans Can't Think Straight About Class.

In the piece, Benj quotes a letter written by his father. The letter contains one of the most demolishing, wrenching yet ultimately optimistic views of aging that I have seen, outside the pages of Simone DeBeauvoir:

Study humiliation.

You have nothing ahead of you but that. You survive not by trusting old friends. Or by hoping for love from a child. You survive by realizing you have nothing whatever the world wants, and that therefore the one course open to you is to start over.

I’m saying that literally. You have to start over. Recognize your knowledge and experience are valueless. . . .

Work harder yet and you’ll get through to the end, humiliated thoroughly but smarter than you were at 85. This is the best life can offer.

And it’s better than it sounds.

That is devastating.