Monday, May 02, 2011

Another Exercise in Feeling Old: Current Events

Back in 2009, I wrote a post called "An Exercise in Feeling Old." It was a thought experiment: How "current" would certain songs feel to Elliot (a newborn at the time), compared with how I would perceive them?

For instance, Beyonce's "Single Ladies" (2008) feels fairly recent to me. But to Elliot, it's the equivalent of Gladys Knight's "Midnight Train to Georgia" (1973).

Now that we have an even newer member of our family, Alice, I'd like to conduct the same thought experiment on the topic of historical events.

Sept. 11, 2001, feels fairly recent to me (especially given the events of the past few hours). And yet, to Alice, it was something that occurred a DECADE before she was even born. Think about that for a moment.

That means, for me, it would be the equivalent of the JFK assassination (1963) — something that always felt a little abstract.

To Alice, the outbreak of World War II occurred almost 72 years before she was born. That makes it equivalent to the assassination of President McKinley (1901).

The Great Depression started 82 years before she was born. That makes it like the year Thomas Hardy published "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" (1891).

I'd like to put a positive spin on all this. Sept. 11, World War II, the Depression — these are all terrible things. If Alice goes through life thinking it's been a long time since human beings were so depraved as to do any of this, that's a good thing, right? We're past this.

I hope that's true.