|Joseph Jefferson as Rip van Winkle (photo by Napoleon Sarony)|
There are certain old people who are praised for their voracious appetite for life. They can’t see or hear. They certainly can’t fuck and they're steadily draining the resources of their already cash strapped baby boomer children. Is their desire to live for the sake of it necessarily a good thing which should be praised, the way you praise a child who had done his homework? Should old people necessarily be rewarded simply for their stubborn insistence on living, when many young people who are more worthy candidates for life, have life unjustly taken from them by the ravages of cancer, by accidents or merely from one of the occupational hazards of being young and full of the desire for oblivion, the overdose? Sometimes when you see one of these drooling geezers with their walkers, you’d wish they could give up even a few years of their longevity to some poor kid who dies from say the disease of progeria, whose symptom is premature aging. Scientists may never discover the secret of immortality, but perhaps they will find a way that older people can sell part of their timeshares to those whose youth will enable them to make better use of their bodies. Youth may be wasted on the young, but the purpose of life is sometimes misunderstood by gerontophiles who see nothing wrong with aging opera buffs, who have managed to get coveted seats for Don Giovanni, only to sleep through the entire performance. "An aged man is but a paltry thing/ a tattered cloak upon a stick, unless/ Soul clap its hands and sing..." says Yeats in "Sailing to Byzantium." But what if the time for song has past?