Writing in the new journal Age Culture Humanities, Chris Gilleard of London's University College salutes the cultural turn in age studies and its attendant view of aging as socially and culturally constructed (along with race, gender, disability, and sexuality). Within this broader framework, aging studies "queers" its older and more established partner, gerontology, Gilleard observes.
In a logical prequel to the Septuagenarian Sex Shocker, this just in: middle-aged women who are sexually active continue to have sex! Even if they’re diagnosed with sexual dysfunction—a term that’s beginning to lose scientific credibility, and not soon enough.
I suspected that I might find a kindred spirit in Anne Karpf, and her excellent article in the Guardian about why we shouldn't fear getting old confirms it. Karpf writes of the turning point in our twenties when disdain for those younger than us turns to disregard for our elders, and the consequent body dysmorphia, “propelled at least partly by a fear of ageing, [that] has become a cultural condition.” So many adolescents are getting Botox injections that there’s a name for it: “teen toxing!”
This elegantly simple video by software developer Marius Budin uses Google Suggest (the feature that “completes the thought” when you type a word or two into the search window) to traverse a hypothetical life course writ in billions of searches. Worries about pregnancy, virginity, failure and loneliness prevail, a telling glimpse into human insecurity. Also noteworthy is the fact that the video devotes 90 seconds to ages 10 to 40. The next 45 years rate 24 seconds, starting to skip decades at 50 and ending with "I'm 85 and I’m tired."
It may be the dog days of August, but I'm busy nailing down a number of speaking engagements in Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and closer to home, in Gowanus, Brooklyn. That gig is also the soonest: I'll be one of five performers on a science storytelling show called the Story Collider on September 4th at 8:00, at a club called Littlefields (622 Degraw Street). The Moth for the geekily inclined, the Story Collider has a theme for each event, and this evening's theme is, you guessed it, aging. Now to come up with a 10-minute monlogue "at turns funny and heartbreaking, [about] how our modern world is changing the way we age." No sweat. No notes. No auditioning, at least. It should be good.
It was May Sarton who wrote “The trouble is, old age is not interesting until one gets there. It’s a foreign country with an unknown language to the young and even to the middle-aged.” I came across the quote in this lovely blog post by Judy Fox, and it’s a metaphor that bears reflection. It reminds me of a reckoning I finally arrived at, long after losing my way in what was to become This Chair Rocks.
People often suggest that I give a TED talk, and of course I hope this opportunity comes my way. In the meanwhile, I searched all TED talks tagged with aging. Nine come up: