Between 1913 and 1930, Carl Gustav Jung worked on the Red Book, also known as Liber Novus, a richly illustrated 205-page manuscript written in calligraphic text.
That is oddly comforting. To me it means that, even 500 years from now, there may still be a few lone souls printing books on paper.
(Picture: from the Rubin Museum of Art, whose exhibition marks the first public display of the book, and which has organized a stellar speaker program, “The Red Book Dialogues”, around the show).
Maybe every single generation goes thorough something like this (from I Love a Man in Uniform):
Of course, I was only a fraction of the rebel I used to be, having come to favor country music just as much as Rock ‘n’ Roll High School. Sometime in my early twenties, I had realized that punk rock might not be able to deliver on its messianic zeal. Even my idol, Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra, had started sounding less like a mordant political wit than a cranky old man shouting, “Hey you kids, get off my lawn!” In one of his later songs, he asked a question that echoed my own doubt: “Anarchy sounds great, but who would fix the sewers?”
I mourned the loss of my outlier faith as much as I welcomed the drift inward from the margins. The punk scene wasn’t hallowed ground or some infallible brain trust, it was just a bunch of strivers flailing around in search of answers, no better (though surely no worse) than anyone else. The far-flung dream of anarchy wore itself thin. Ideologically, I was fair game.
This week’s Economist has a very interesting piece on the political establishment in today’s United Kingdom. George Osborne, shadow chancellor, is 38. In his inner circle, advisers Rohan Silva and Rupert Harrison are 28 and 30; his chief of staff, Matthew Hancock, is 31; his speechwriter, Ameet Gill, 27. On the Labour side, Torsten Henricson-Bell, adviser to chancellor Alistair Darling, is 27. Gordon Brown’s speechwriter is said to be 29, and some of Mr. Brown’s policy unit members are reportedly “boyish”. And so on.
Greenness has its drawbacks, sure. Yet, as Bagehot remarks, “lack of personal experience does not disqualify someone from holding valid opinions, if curiosity and hard work compensate.” So, how about freshening up Italy’s gerontocracy? We don’t have enough fresh-faced UK-style policy wonks of our own: let’s just import them. They may perceive as “distant and hypothetical” some of the “grimly adult” “substance of politics — pensions, child-rearing and so on”; yet, they can hardly do worse at these topics than our septuagenarian leaders, can they?
This is Elizabeth Strout’s description of a turning point in the marriage of a middle-aged couple, Bonnie and Harmon.
But one night he turned to her in bed, and she pulled away. After a long moment she said quietly, “Harmon, I think I’m just done with that stuff.”
They lay there in the dark; what gripped him from his bowels on up was the horrible, blank knowledge that she meant this. Still, nobody can accept losses right away.
“Done?” he asked. She could have piled twenty bricks onto his stomach, that was the pain he felt.
“I’m sorry. But I’m just done. There’s no point in my pretending. That isn’t pretty for either of us.”
He asked if it was because he’d gotten fat. She said he hadn’t really gotten fat, please not to think that way.
But maybe I’ve been selfish, he said. What can I do to please you? (They had never really talked about things in this way — in the dark he blushed.)
She said, he couldn’t understand — it wasn’t him, it was her. She was just done.