Saturday, April 14, 2007

REVISIONISM

I have a suspicion that adults don't have a fucking clue what being a child is really like - and of course I include myself in recognising the limitation of being able to remember all sorts of once upon a time things that happened - but not what it is genuinely like or how it feels.

You would think that as adults, all of us having underwent childhood (presumably), we would have a better understanding of what being a child is all about. And yet, in many ways adults behave and adopt attitudes that belie their experiences of those early formative years. Furthermore, books and films are full of examples of this curious form of anthropomorphism: child roles being merely voices for us adults to romanticise, idealise, or fantasise what it is to be young; or else our very own words and ideas are simply put into their compliant unquestioning mouths. For decades, if not centuries, women have had to put up with male authors and scriptwriters doing this to them - in some ways it must be even worse for kids. Because, by definition, they'll probably never get the chance to do anything about it.

8 comments:

Max said...

Perhaps it is a way for adults to deny and hide the fact that there was a point in our lives when we were idealistic, naive, and trusting. It seems that all of those attributes are considered to be weaknesses in our society and as a result we force ourselves to not only abolish them in our own selves but attempt to gloss over them in our treatment and/or portrayal of children in order to not be reminded of that "shameful" past.

Young and Stupid said...

There's some truth in that old saying "Youth is wasted on the young." And yet the definition of youth, the thing no one forgets, is that oblivion of "now". I think that the very nature of adulthood is trying to replicate the feelings and emotions of childhood-the carelessness and the intensity, and with time it just becomes more and more vague. Less of a memory and more an idea romanticized into fiction.

dystonia said...

In terms of the loss of those feelings, much of it may have to to with the learning of concepts of time and linearity as one ages... remember when you were about five how long a summer afternoon could last? The more we learn to measure time, the more conscious we are of its passing, the more we build a sort of grid onto which we can affix this or that event (not to mention the increasing sense that time is running out). Childhood is like the eternal now, up to a point - experience is more like a continuum than a linear series of events.

I don't remember ever thinking about trying to remember or preserve or memorialise anything as a small child, and I'm quite sure if an adult had encouraged me to do so at the time I wouldn't have been able to grasp completely why doing so was important - adults were mostly boring.

That being said, I do remember a lot about how I felt about things between the ages of about two and six. (I still feel the same way about some things, especially the adults being boring part).

Rachelle said...

I was always wanting to ask you what you think of the band THE SMITHS, perhaps now is the time. He seems to be or was in tune what it was like to be a child, and reflects on that, but perhaps it was more because he had a "miserable" type of childhood, or one with many awful experiences? I suppose I was just thinking about English music in the 80s in general. Do you like any of their music?

William Bennett said...

hi Rachelle, yes, I, like you, certainly can admire Morrissey as a brilliant and inventive lyricist full of eclectic insights; that said, regarding the subject in question here, I still strongly suspect adult romanticisation at play, whether it's one of joyful innocence, or in this case one that one of awfulness and misery. To me, my personal instinct is that a child's true perspective is outside of our own adult biological consciousnesses, hard to accept thought that is, it's like water that's passed under a bridge never to return. Only familiar mirages and faint echoes existing to be retrieved.

pelao said...

how about kids who kill?
early attempts at anything mildly creative is always tempered by the odious adult hand trying to fill a predeterminate vessel...fuck that!

pelao said...

by the way..

"Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them."

- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

John said...

Here's an interesting link of drawings and writings done by pre-school children when asked the question "What happens to people when they get old?". Some of the things they write are wonderful:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/frauenfelder/sets/72157600208546405/detail/