Vincent closed Controversy today with a talk about people in their 40s. What he wanted to know was one thing rather than ten, namely: do people in their 40s live authentic lives, or are they a bunch or hypocrites? Although this is a singular and straightforward question, the invited guests were all over the place in answering it, and had a hard time staying on topic. Quite unusually also, in the middle of the show, one of the guests got replaced with another of Vincent's and my former colleagues, Pelle Guldborg Hansen. That was a good move, as the person who left the show was only interested in talking about himself and his 15 years of cocaine abuse, which he now kind of regreted as it didn't get him any closer to what he imagined he would get out of it.
In fact, one of the problems with people not staying on topic was also due to the fact that they all talked about what 40-year olds imagine, or what we learn to imagine, and then consequently desire. There was no consensus on what we supposedly want. The discussion took a turn towards gardening, with the conservative retards insisting on the value of minding their own pots and plants, rather than those of the entire world, and the more idealistically oriented ones insisting on the idea that what one calls one's own garden is an illusion. Here Pelle was right to talk about what he calls the fiasco generation, and insist that where we go wrong is in not being able to keep up the pace with the way in which morality codes change. As some ideals simply become irrelevant, they need to be replaced with new ones. Yet, in our search for new ideals, it is not sure that we realize that we have to exhibit basic empathy towards each other all the time. Implicitly he was also going against the nonsense formulated by the others on the show that hypocrisy comes in different forms; some types are better than others, and some types are downright good or at least pragmatic. The argument for the latter was that, in principle, we don't want to alienate our mothers in law by telling them that their food is crap, when we can be nice about it, take their bad cooking in stride, and say instead that it is heaven. As far as I'm concerned, last I've checked hypocrisy was still hypocrisy. It is never good, and it is certainly not a sign of either good manners, good behavior, or authentic living.
Vincent's last question on what we pass on to our children was relevant in light of the missing consensus on where we have them now or on where we want them to get to. Here everyone went back to the garden, and it was clear again that context means different things to different people. The conservatives were adamant in their belief that as they have access to full agency and free will, they can thus also do whatever the heck they want to their kids, among other things, instill in them good values, however indeterminate these may be. The ones on the show with pluralistic inclinations insisted on the fact that our kids are not really ours, as many others contribute to their upbringing each in their different ways, some better than others.
For all the divided opinions, and towards the end of the show, no one wanted to see themselves as fucked up, which is perhaps a good thing all together. Feelings about one's own worth may be what they are, but it is still ideas that have more potential. This being said, I'm happy to say that as long as we value ideas more than we value time, or even the time it takes to get us where we want to be ideally, then we're all safe. After the age of 40, there is basically only one question to pose. I'll leave it to Patrick Kavanagh to enlighten us all, while also expressing the usual gratitude to all those who want to bother making TV summer programs that rescue us from disappearing entirely in our thoughts or dreams of winter. Vincent, thank you.
AFTER FORTY YEARS OF AGE
There was a time when a mood recaptured was enough
Just to be able to hold momentarily November in the woods
Or a street we once made our own through being in love.
But that is not enough now. The job is to answer questions
Experience. Tell us what life has taught you. Not just about
Which is futile anyway in the long run—but a concrete, as it were, essence.
The role is that of prophet and savior. To smelt in passion
The commonplaces of life. To take over the functions of a god
in a new fashion.
Ah! there is the question to speculate upon in lieu of an answer.