Perhaps, as stoics and existentialists suggest, the most sensible “added” purpose of the middle years through to old age is the coding of a safe shutdown tailored to the peculiarities of an individual mind. Let me be human (for once) and say – while I’ve still got energy to say it loud enough – fuck you, fuck you future EOF, fuck you future me. You know I love you, I don’t need caveats, but fuck coding safe shutdown against the deliquesce to the EOF. If for no other reason than simple disagreeable perversity. Feel free to call that hope.
Alcoholic blackout is an extreme corollary of cognitive dissonance (i.e. separation of contradictory realities) required by the mind’s executive function to stay coherent, to disassociate from the neurological divergence created by the irreconcilable biochemistry of personality between the sober and altered state brain. It becomes more pronounced as more time is spent drunk in altered state, as evidenced by older alcoholics reaching blackout faster, getting drunk quicker, etc.
On the whole there’s agreement, in civilised society, on bigotry, racism, prejudice, isolationism, and unadulterated capitalist greed as evil, corrosive forces. Surely this was so obvious, nearly every British citizen was on the same page? Hadn’t the 1997 Labour landslide shown this progression? Wasn’t Europe as a whole – having permanently rejected centuries of idiotic wars home and abroad -evolving towards transnational free movement of people with enshrined universal human rights? Wasn’t the UK one of the key signatories; a defining force and central participant in this fundamentally optimistic project? We had thought these questions settled, by clear consensus on those objective principles of human society: equality, liberty, fraternity. We had assumed the leftover bigots were an anachronism, sidelined, on the way out. We were wrong.
It’s not everyday an individual manages to think his/her way through all the smokescreens, misdirections, confirmation biases, social cognitive dissonances, confusion narratives, utilitarian myths and spurious explanations proliferating the cultural imagination of their lineage. But it’s fair to ask, if you’re one of those individuals face to face with the unknown, uncharted future: is there nothing beyond the selfish maelstrom of the vanity fair? Is the root of adult alienation the long drawn out death knell of anticlimax and disappointment, that once it is heard never goes away?
I suspect the resentment comes from not reconciling the loss of life story with the impersonal truths of maturing conscious existence: that the stories weren’t invented to make a fool of you but got evolved by generations of other human beings as natural coping mechanisms, ways to make sense of shared experience, to steer the majority as best could be managed for the sake of the lineage, from cradle to grave. It’s nobody’s fault there’s nothing beyond the vanity fair. Nothing, that is, but kindness, duty and a daily drift towards terminal irrelevance.