Modernity: we created youth without heroism, age without wisdom, and life without grandeur”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms
(Given below is a recent sketch of Charlie Chaplin that I drew off an image from Pinterest. He turned out resembling Charlie Chaplin well enough! More on my art page if you’d like!)
I’ve recently been plagued by thoughts that can ultimately be traced back to an old era, a past where I never existed. Beginning from the education system to the entertainment industry, somehow everything of the past, what today’s young generation term old or outdated seems so authentic and raw. I have always noticed how when I ask my parents or (elder) relatives a doubt, or a random question, they always seem to give a reasonable answer. They know a reasonable amount about everything, they can deal with any problem and they can speak to anyone
The quality of (most of) the old systems and infrastructure, primitive, yes, but were of high quality, none the less. Back then, people actually needed to pave their own lives and they worked for it. They genuinely worked for it. It’s not just about getting great grades at school, it’s about learning the art of living.
Talent is cheap; dedication is expensive. It will cost you your life.
― Irving Stone, The Agony and the Ecstasy
That was a time when children would greet people out of respect rather than because it was a part of their monotonic routine as it is today. (Most of) Today’s students are so shallow. There is hardly anything beneath the surface. Social media, latest trends and all that ridiculous stuff are attributed so much importance that they fail to see the bigger picture.
Once conform, once do what other people do because they do it, and a lethargy steals over all the finer nerves and faculties of the soul. She becomes all outer show and inward emptiness; dull, callous, and indifferent.
― Virginia Woolf
Don’t get me wrong. There are some incredibly great young people who are actually working for a change. Malala Yousoufzai, Emma Watson, Greta Thunberg are just a few of those extraordinary people who fight for causes that benefit the greater good. It’s truly inspiring to see that not all hope is lost.
All my means are sane, my motive and my object mad.
― Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, the Whale
Coming to the entertainment industry, (most of) the songs, books and movies of the past have a message, a lesson that we can learn from. There are some amazing movies today but comparatively, those of those bygone eras had a certain elegance and a touch of authenticity. People back then, genuinely tried to be the best in their respective arts and that is why they continue to live in us today.
A poor original is better than a good imitation.
― Ella Wheeler Wilcox
As a teenager in the 21st century, I used to detest anything and everything that was old or outdated. That was until I began to notice the huge quality drop in today’s amenities. Sure, our governments may not have been the best then and we (as part of mankind) had some pretty terrible leaders and eras defined by dictatorship regimes which resulted in mass deaths. Life is unfair (quoting Severus Snape), it’s a characteristic aspect and you can’t change that. What you can do though, is make that a characteristic feature of your life, fit it into your life.
Nothing is born of nothing, least of all knowledge, modernity, or enlightened thought; progress is made in tiny surges, in successive laps, like an endless relay race. But there are links without which nothing would be passed on, and for that reason, they deserve the gratitude of all who benefited from them.
― Amin Maalouf, Orígenes
For example, Elvis Presley and Queen; each of them led a career whose impact on their spectators spanned decades and continue to live past centuries. Their songs and performances, their life stories. All of it matters today because they were just so true and original. Beethoven or Shakespeare, have any of us ever not heard of any one of these personalities? No, because they were absolute masters of their craft. Enid Blyton who lived in the 19th and 20th centuries defined my childhood in the 21st century. Her books were written for children in such a beautiful manner and I feel privileged to have been brought up with her books.
There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.
― Beverly Sills
What we’re lacking today is originality. Everyone wants to succeed at everything but (most of) them are not willing to think; just think differently. You just need to learn to think differently and that can make all the difference. This is one of the foremost reasons why things of old still retain their touch of quality and elegance. Because originality leaves a mark that not the end of the world can erase. Artists like Janis Joplin, Charlie Chaplin, Albert Einstein, Katherine Goble, Pablo Picasso, Audrey Hepburn etc. continue to inspire us because of their genuine dedication.
Anymore, no one’s mind is their own.
― Chuck Palahniuk, Lullaby
Everytime I whine about something, my parents tell me it is because I haven’t seen life. I agree. I have not, I haven’t even scratched the surface. I am brought up in an era where bad deeds are considered ‘cool’ and results can be bought with money. Fame and wealth cannot and will not define you unless you actually earn it with blood, sweat and tears. This world will continue to be corrupted and defiled but ‘results for hard work‘ is an age-old mantra, as old as life itself.
I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.
–Sir Winston Churchill
We’re not willing to do the work our ancestors did. This is precisely why we don’t have many Picassos or Shakespeares today. We’re not done with our journey of life.
There is still an inexplicably deep void of ideas to be comprehended, of devices to be invented, of classics to be written. Classics and masterpieces were not meant to be a thing of the past. They were meant to define each century, each era, each year. Right now, we’re still living off the products of age old individuals’ fecundity.
I think it’s also fair to say a few decades from now, there’ll probably be another teen comparing her era’s personalities to today’s icons like J.K Rowling or Elon Musk.
Will we ever meet a standard we create for ourselves or are we going to continue to live off of others’?
Conform, go crazy, or become an artist.
― Nancy Springer
This article was not directed towards any particular person or group. It is also not a general situation as my excessive use of the phrase ‘Most of them‘ hopefully implied. No, this is just a summarised account of the recent thoughts that have been demanding an outlet. Please feel free to express your thoughts and opinions as well. I look forward to approaching this topic from your perspective. Thank you so much for reading!!