Part of “the Deceit of Growing Up”

There is no way to get from infancy to adulthood without suffering through a million tiny lies and self-deceptions. The neuropsychology of growing up provides insufficient cognitive resolution at the time it happens, to allow our developing bodies/brains and puny experience of life to understand what is happening to us and what we are becoming.

I feel I am being drawn into a world whose meanings are never so clear any longer, distinctions between this and that, colours are blurred… Perhaps it is all part of the deceit of growing up… __ from the Poldark Saga #9 by Winston Graham

When works of fiction give deep insights into common human experience, they are only doing what good fiction is supposed to do. Among the best writers at exposing underlying realities include Winston Graham, whose excellent Poldark Saga was once again butchered by the BBC. The written version is witty, earthy, and profound. The televised version is trite, derivative, and untrue to the excellent published book series.

In the days when bright children and youth were expected to read several dozens of good books per year, they tended to arrive at adulthood bolstered by a wide range of vicarious insights and experiences. Without having experienced many of the joys and heartbreaks of the full spectrum of human experience, they nonetheless had viewed glimpses of the possible vistas and had felt twinges of bitterness and triumph.

When children no longer read — but instead do social media, play video games, watch TV … — they move through time oblivious to all the lies and self-deceit. If parents never try to compensate for the defects of education and the failures of popular culture, youth suddenly arrive at adulthood without the slightest idea what they are expected to do. It simply isn’t in them to have a clue.

The Age of Perpetual Immaturity

I am not the first person to point out that today’s youth and college-age adults seem to lack the independence of mind and strength of character that might be wished for. The Coddling of the American Mind is a long-running project of American media and American academia that has been ongoing for at least the past 50 years. The project was perhaps best described in the 1994 book “Who Stole Feminism?” by Christina Hoff Sommers. The book is available for free download at Another excellent look at the intentional hobbling of the minds of youth is The Closing of the American Mind.

So, it is not bad enough that the bare phenomenon of “growing up” leaves us with a myriad of misconceptions, ignorant prejudices, and outright falsehoods of understanding. The educational system, media outlets, and institutions of popular culture must pile on by introducing a systematic program of coddling indoctrination, rendering the minds of children, youth, and young adults virtually incapable of distinguishing truth from falsehood on their own. In other words, entire generations are being rendered perpetually ignorant, incompetent, and unenlightened by protected institutions, tax-supported institutions, and departments of government.

Characteristics of Perpetual Immaturity

Here is a short list of the characteristics of the perpetually immature young adult — both male and female:

She is in touch with her mom every day.

She acts like a child, a teenager, or a person who is much younger than she is.

She acts as if others should serve her. She expects to be taken care of and be pampered on demand.

He cannot maintain a long-term, stable romantic relationship.

He is commitment-phobic in nearly all areas of life—despite having a needy attachment style. It can take him six months to commit to buying a new sofa.

She has few, if any, close friends.

She is often passive-aggressive, meaning she has a tendency to engage in an indirect expression of hostility through acts such as subtle insults, sullen behavior, stubbornness, or a deliberate failure to accomplish required tasks.

She is a narcissist or exhibits a childish selfishness. If something is even mildly inconvenient, he will resist doing it.

He is financially irresponsible. He spends too much money playing, partying, or chasing after whims.

She rarely thinks anything is her fault.

Adapted from Source

As these immature adults inadvertently take on more responsibilities, they may find themselves parents of perpetually immature children, youth, and young adults. After all, if an adult never grows up, he cannot be expected to contribute much wisdom to the raising of a child.

Such parents have frequent mood swings, have trouble connecting on an honest emotional level with their own children, often pursue their own pleasures at the expense of their children’s needs, and can swing between over-controlling behaviours and neglect.

A Failure of Enlightenment

18th century philosopher Immanuel Kant described this type of behaviour as a failure of enlightenment. Kant describes the phenomenon of “nonage,” or perpetual immaturity:

Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why such a large part of mankind gladly remain minors all their lives, long after nature has freed them from external guidance. They are the reasons why it is so easy for others to set themselves up as guardians. It is so comfortable to be a minor. If I have a book that thinks for me, a pastor who acts as my conscience, a physician who prescribes my diet, and so on–then I have no need to exert myself. I have no need to think, if only I can pay; others will take care of that disagreeable business for me. Those guardians who have kindly taken supervision upon themselves see to it that the overwhelming majority of mankind–among them the entire fair sex–should consider the step to maturity, not only as hard, but as extremely dangerous. First, these guardians make their domestic cattle stupid and carefully prevent the docile creatures from taking a single step without the leading-strings to which they have fastened them. Then they show them the danger that would threaten them if they should try to walk by themselves. Now this danger is really not very great; after stumbling a few times they would, at last, learn to walk. However, examples of such failures intimidate and generally discourage all further attempts.

Thus it is very difficult for the individual to work himself out of the nonage which has become almost second nature to him. He has even grown to like it, and is at first really incapable of using his own understanding because he has never been permitted to try it. Dogmas and formulas, these mechanical tools designed for reasonable use–or rather abuse–of his natural gifts, are the fetters of an everlasting nonage. The man who casts them off would make an uncertain leap over the narrowest ditch, because he is not used to such free movement. That is why there are only a few men who walk firmly, and who have emerged from nonage by cultivating their own minds. __ Kant What is Enlightnement?

Kant was a very harsh judge of human nature. He was concerned that books were shackles on the human mind! How much worse on the developing mind are the hobbling effect of social media, video games, movies and TV, lockstep educational systems of indoctrination, conformist journalistic media, and the ephemeral internet that enforces politically correct rules of censorship and “disappearing” at every turn. They had most of those things in Kant’s day of course, but technology is perfecting the groupthink shackles with every revision of Google, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

The Bookless Library

The new trend for libraries is to go “bookless.” Whether this takes us closer to the world of Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 or not, is a matter that you may decide for yourself.

The University of Michigan has reopened its Taubman Health Sciences Library after a $55 million overhaul and rethinking of how a library for medical students should function.

Hundreds of thousands of books were moved to an offsite location and are available on demand for delivery, and by becoming “bookless” the school said that frees up space for medical student education. The facility on the school’s Ann Arbor campus officially reopened over the weekend. __ Source

While a traditionalist may object to a library without books, the fact of the matter is libraries have always been more than warehouses for books. Academic libraries in particular are used more for study than for storing old and possibly outdated books. __ Why Libraries are Going Bookless

It seems to me that we have the same problem with all-electronic libraries as we have with all-electronic voting, all-electronic money, or all-electronic anything. Electronic storage is subject to being hacked, to being altered. The same may be true of paper, but with paper the counterfeiting is more awkward, more time-consuming, more limited.

A Return to Books: Fiction and Non-Fiction

Good fiction provides important insights into human life and existence. It can provide an emotional and practical headstart for children, youth, and adults alike. Good nonfiction provides systematic knowledge and insights into human life and existence, as well as insights into the physical world and universe at large.

Learning to navigate the world of family, friends, school, work, and the world around us is difficult enough. Not to mention learning to navigate the dangerous tides and shoals of our own emotions and misconceptions. If we can learn to borrow the wisdom and knowledge of worthy people who went before us, then we have an advantage we would not have had otherwise.

We are all being drawn into a world where colours are blurred and meanings are not so clear. This makes it important to pay closer attention, and to acquit ourselves with the tools we will need to meet danger with Danger.

We should be polished, but more importantly we should be honed to a sharp edge. It is never too late to have a Dangerous Childhood © .

A well-educated child is a Dangerous child. While this concept seems quite foreign to modern psychologically neotenous and sheltered societies, it is in fact transparently obvious and necessary to anyone who expects humans to progress to the next level. __ Source

More: A difference in childhood between generations?

Reading is good for children. It makes them more literate, better at math, and more academically successful in general. So it’s no wonder that a large majority of the respondents to Jerkins’ Twitter question answered cited time for reading as a major privilege of their childhood. “Books. Hundreds and thousands of them moving through our house—from libraries, bookstores, passed from friends and coworkers of my parents. No idea too frightening or taboo to discuss or analyze,” one Twitter user wrote. “Books saved my life,” another said.

Today’s teens, however, are reading significantly less than their predecessors. In 1984, 8% of 13-year-olds and 9% of 17-year-olds said they “never” or “hardly ever” read for pleasure. In 2014, that number had almost tripled, to 22% and 27%. And entire cities have now become “book deserts,” wherein the chances that kids in low-income urban neighborhoods finding children’s books for loan or purchase are slim to none. __

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4 Responses to Part of “the Deceit of Growing Up”

  1. Gavin Longmuir says:

    Thank you for an interesting — encouraging! — article. Kant, writing over 200 years ago (about 10 generations in the past) describes the behavior of young human beings as if he were describing the behavior of today’s youth. Maybe this suggests we should not lose hope!

    Matt Ridley, in his book “The Rational Optimist”, notes that humans have for hundreds of years looked around themselves and concluded the world is going to hell in a handbasket. And yet the conditions of life for most people have improved, century after century.

    The human race pursues a circuitous path, falling into a lot of potholes along the way. Yet the long term direction is upwards, ever upwards.

    • alfin2101 says:

      Thanks for the comment. As you say, it is important to maintain a sense of historical perspective.

      You may find this article to be interesting in the comparing of upbringings between recent generations.

  2. hell_is_like_newark says:

    Maybe at some point I should try reading Kant again. I was assigned to read him back in college but found his writing to be pedantic to the point of being insufferable. To me (with my 20 year old brain) he came across a man who took pages of writing to make a point when a single paragraph would have sufficed.

    The other annoying aspect (which might be more due to how long ago was it written) the man used words that were not found in the dictionaries I had available to me. I had to go to the library and track down an ancient unabridged dictionary in an attempt to figure out what the hell this guy Kant was saying.

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