Wednesday, April 18, 2012

On aging

From “Hearing Secret Harmonies,” by Anthony Powell:

“The friendships of later life, in contrast with those negotiated before thirty, are apt to be burdened with reservations, constraints, inhibitions. Probably thirty was placing the watershed too late for the age when both parties begin more or less to know (at least think they know) what the other is talking about; as opposed to those earlier friendships—not unlike love affairs, with all sexual elements removed—which can exist with scarcely an interest in common, mutual misunderstanding of character and motive all but absolute.”

“Two compensations for growing old are worth putting on record as the condition asserts itself. The first is a vantage point gained for acquiring embellishments to narratives that have been unfolding for years beside one’s own, trimmings that can even appear to supply the conclusion of a given story, though finality is never certain, a dimension always possible to add. The other mild advantage endorses a keener perception for the authenticities of mythology, not only of the traditional sort, but—when such are any good—the latterday mythologies of poetry and novel.”

“She began to speak disjointedly of Stringham. She was, I thought, perhaps a little mad now. As one gets older, one gets increasingly used to encountering this development in friends and acquaintances; causing periods of self-examination in a similar connexion.”

“One’s capacity for hearing about ghastly doings lessens with age.”


Robin Amos Kahn said...

Well, I guess I ought to read William Powell. Which one should I start with?

Speaking of aging, I liked Jane Fonda's TED talk on aging, have you seen it?

Mia said...

I would start at the beginning of the 12-book series: A Question of Upbringing. You can get them in paperback volumes of three books each. They get quite silly toward the end. But still a delightful read.