f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

April 11, 2008

the bad memory century

Filed under: q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 9:55 am

don't forget I‘ve always hated being part of a fad or trend — well, at least since I refused to wear a “Frodo Lives” button over forty years ago in high school, and boycotted — um — those books (three of them, I think) by — er — that famous fantasy author. But, there’s no doubt that I saw myself in today’s column by David Brooks, titled “The Great Forgetting” (New York Times, April 11, 2008). Here’s a taste of his humorous look at the increasing inability of Boomers and their elders to remember:

“They say the 21st century is going to be the Asian Century, but, of course, it’s going to be the Bad Memory Century. Already, you go to dinner parties and the middle-aged high achievers talk more about how bad their memories are than about real estate. . . .

“In the era of an aging population, memory is the new sex.” questionDude

Brooks seems to have forgotten to do much editing of this column — which is a bit too long and tries a little too hard to come up with amusing examples and quotable bon mots — but he nonetheless gives his fellow 50- and 60-somethings something to smile about, and makes a few points worth pondering. Not living in either NYC or DC, I have not yet encountered the “colossal Proustian memory bullies,” described by Brooks, but he’s right that in many ways “Society is now riven between the memory haves and the memory have-nots.” (Long gone are the days when I boasted that my alphabetization skills would always get me a job.) And, he surely scored a bullseye with the observation:

erasingF “As in most great historical transformations, the members of the highly educated upper-middle class will express their suffering most loudly. It is especially painful when narcissists suffer memory loss because they are losing parts of the person they love most.”

Brooks ends on an optimistic note: “Their affection for themselves will endure through this Bad Memory Century, but their failure to retrieve will produce one of the epoch’s most notable features: shorter memoirs.”

what did you forget?
retracing steps

ISSA, translated by David G. Lanoue

As younger readers surely recall, we’ve touched on the topic of Boomer memory loss often here at f/k/a — in contexts both serious and silly. If you need a reminder, check out these prior postings:

the octagenarian
fills in my blank ………….

……. by dagosan, a/k/a david giacalone

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