Traditions

Gaaah….. it’s monday. My boy Paddy and his long-term girlfriend (a courtship through four years of  getting their degrees in seperate countries) are getting married on Thursday, here on the island.  I have had the influx of new in-laws to be arrive today and we sat down to dinner with 11 people tonight, after chaos and wrong date booked hire cars and all sort of minor disasters, I found I had 3 hours less than I planned on for a large three course meal.  And somehow it all happened. Somehow writing my weekly mad genius blog post got sidelined… but not forgotten.

Which kind of brings me around to my thread for the day… would you ever get anything done if you lived forever and it didn’t matter? If there were no deadlines and you could polish that once more?  My own theory is that immortality would kill creativity as well as death…

And then the question of tradition and writing. My sons are both varying degrees of strong traditionalists. More so than I am, to be honest.  More conservative in outlook and a lot of their behaviour than I, certainly.  I suspect they’re unusual, but I really don’t know — and this logically affects your writing. My younger boy has from excess reading of elderly novels and disreputable older relations for example some very strong ideas on bachelor parties (which I think over-rated myself) and the necessity for decorating cars and attaching tin cans to them.  My older son wants me to wear a suit and cut my hair for his wedding (not off, I grant, but cut it for reasons other than it is getting in my way).  And they both approve of  church weddings, and look askance at the idea of  just co-habiting (which was certainly perfectly acceptable 30 years ago, and I thought quite normal now).  I’ve noticed however that books are followers of zeitgeist (mostly) — and usually some 5-7 years behind it, rather than as some editors like to dream ‘educating the public’. 

My boys have grown up into a far more frightening and uncertain world than I did.  Jobs, the future, and even the country they live in are not easy or sure things at all. In the seventies and early eighties we certainly dreamed the world was ours for taking, and that nothing could stand in our path… and that traditions was… so yesterday. That’s still true in the few new books I’ve read lately. But I wonder — as something of an amatuer historian and socio-politicial observer — if the trend is way ahead of their ideas in what bode to be uncertain times. If bright kids (who are after all the nucleus of the reading population want… old fashioned. Because that was safe, stable and firm.  I see this too in the quest for steampunk. The Victorian era sucked. I am glad to be born much later… but it obviously has its charm. 

So: what think you?

11 comments

  1. I think at some age, kids lookaround and say “I want to be just like…” or “I will never be like . . . ” and they’re looking at their parents’ generation as they say it.

    Our kids grew up seeing the effects of divorce on their friends. Even a friendly divorce is wrenching. And when words start getting flung around, people don’t stop and think “Oh, can Johnny hear this?” before they claim they never wanted children and . . . it’s gets quite traumatic for the kids.

    I think a large number of our offspring are adamantly avoiding the sexual mores of their parents’ generation. But then an equal number seem to have given up on any sort of responsible behavior at all. Hopefully, it’s just my perception, and the majority will be better than my generation, not worse.

    Congratulations, Dave and Barbara. Your kids are responsible. And I might point out, they appear to have kept the adventuresome, fear nothing, do everything attitude of their parents. Your pride in them shows through, every time you write about either of them.

    Your point about how that affects writing is interesting. I hadn’t thought of generational backlash and what our young readers want now.

  2. Tradition is a fancy word for “this has a track record”. The more uncertain the world around you, the more important it is to do things that you expect will work.

    The kid monkeys grew up in a country that was, how shall I put it delicately, wrapped in a hand-basket and getting hotter and hotter. There was also a strong hint of sulfur in the air, and sometimes they caught a glimpse of horns and a pitchfork. They are probably more traditional than the majority of English speakers of their age.

    However, if my estimates are right and we’re at the beginning of the second great depression, the next generation will probably resemble your kids more than you or me. This will definitely affect their reading tastes.

  3. I think both my kids will be more conservative than I. They cringe at some of the things I do, or even suggest. My daughter’s favourite TV show is Castle, which features a 16 yo girl who is constantly having to reign in her (writer) father, whose crazy behaviour is sometimes a little less than acceptable.

    I can’t help but think she’s drawing some parallels in there somewhere. Not too many I hope. Castle makes a fortune and is a bestselling author…

  4. Hey, Chris. Don’t you hate all these TV shows with authors that earn buckets yet never seem to do any actual writing? Californication comes to mind.

  5. Chris and Synova,

    I don’t mind Castle so much. He’s a guy whose delt with marriage breakups and still has a great (if unconventional) family life.

    But Hank Moody? A stinky, scrawny has-been, who only has to sneeze to have women falling all over him? I think the script writers of that show are living vicariously through their characters.

  6. Firs tof all mega congratulations, Dave. You must be so delighted to have everyone come to theisland for this wedding. Kudos to you and Barb for hosting such a massive event!

    I must know. Did you cut your hair?

    1. I’m seconding the question!

      And congrats to the happy couple, and to their families. I wish I’d won the lottery and could come over. To help, of course. Okay, okay, so also to enjoy the confusion and rush, but to help most of all. I know I’ve never met Paddy but in my heart he’s filed under “nephew.” Give him a hug for me.

  7. I think in a lot of ways these things swing back and forth wildly and fairly unpredictably.
    I have two nephews my age (brothers) who are pretty well spread on the traditional/free spirit spectrum and placing me on any chart is usually a matter of my mood.

    If you look at the USA, you had the Civil War and Reconstruction which were both a bit grim, the highly tinged with the golden glow of never was Wild West. You had the Roaring twenties, prohibition, ww2, the ultraconformist 50s, the 60s and 70s which were anything but, and there was a strong although less encompassing conservative trend than the 50’s in the 80’s up until the Wall came down.
    The last 10-12 years have seen a to my mind very 50’s esque resurgence in displeasing levels of conformity its being driven from a different quarter, but….

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