Monday, July 4, 2022

retrotweetige2022 - terminal condition?

"At what point is the perpetual rehashing of 20th century subcultural sounds and ideas considered less a revival and more a terminal condition" 

-  Mat Dryhurst 

"We are in a strange moment where youth culture, and movements, are no longer the motor of dynamism in the West (which was a 20th century phenomenon anyway). The question for ageing societies is whether that change is permanent? Probably." 

Aaron Bastani (on subject of 80-year-old Macca headlining  Glastonbury)


  1. It sounds glib, but my actual, fully serious answer is - we'll be recombining 20th century DNA until we stumble on one (or more) combinations that can evolve on their own. That's what the crisis is - various late 20th/early 21st century issues and environments (call it capitalist realism, call it neoliberalism, call it technocracy, whatever you like) have interrupted the evolutionary dialectic give-and-take that culture depends on, and we're having to manually link up various bits in order to try and get it going again. That's the long and short of it, to me.

    And 'youth', like 'generations', is a state of mind as much as it is a demographic fact

  2. Zooming out on this terminal condition a bit, I highly recommend this Youtube video on the perilous decline in fertility rates. This is a sober presentation by an academic, and not at all sensationalist:

    I was quite amazed to learn that places like India, Bangladesh and Indonesia are now below the replacement rate. Once you understand just what is happening with fertility and ageing, it is much easier to understand why pop culture is heading the way it is heading - and just what an odd and amazing phenomenon the boomer generation really was.

    I suspect a lot of the sheer cultural heft of the Boomers was down to the fact that there were so many of them.

  3. Phil, your comment reminded me obliquely of this book by Brian Aldiss called Greybeard - where some kind of pollution or radioactivity destroys fertility almost completely. The population ages out and in the sort of declining but before complete collapse of society there is this phase where a kind of sort of culture of bitterness emerges (understandably). Aldiss writes about a kind of humour called 'slack' that emerges, ultra-cynical, and the general effects of sorrow caused by the absence of children in the street. Then society does collapse, and UK devolves into city states - the Thames Valley's bank crumble and Oxford is a little city state island in amidst an huge inland sea. (P.D. James may or may not have ripped off Greybeard for Children of Men)

  4. The Aldiss book might be an interesting touchstone for the future. The fertility drought is something I've only just cottoned on to, and I think it's at least as important as resource depletion or climate change - perhaps even more so.

    There's another Youtube vid I saw with a U.S. demographer where he talks about the Boomers being akin to "a piglet travelling through the belly of a python" i.e. they were basically this odd demographic bulge that passed through the economic system. The whole economic infrastructure of the West was sized to cater for them, and now that they are passing into retirement with no-one to replace them that infrastructure is basically too large. Hence the current high levels of immigration, because immigrants are to all intents and purposes substitute Boomers.

    I've been thinking for a while of creating a blog for all these issues around the decline of pop culture, but I'm now wondering whether to make it a collective one. Are yourself or Tyler or anyone else who reads this blog interested in joining in?

  5. This idea now an explicit pitch from the woman who will quite likely be the next PM of the UK.

    “Penny Mordaunt says that Britain has lost its sense of self

    She compares it to Paul McCartney's set at Glastonbury - 'he was playing new tunes but what we really wanted was the good old stuff'”