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William Michael Harnett: Memento Mori, "To This Favour" (1879)

" … inevitably slipping into a growing good twilight."

Mastering TheIrrelevancies might be that true purpose of advancing age, for youth becomes obsessed with establishing the relevance nobody can take to their grave. A younger generation will always be on the heels of any one spawned before it, and they must and will find the flaws in their forebears' arguments if they ever hope to gain prominence for their own. Some try to fight this trend and attempt relevancy until the ultimately bitterer end, an exit inevitably rendered ever more bitter and irrelevant, but irrelevancy by omission turns out to be a much, much different experience than irrelevancy by commission, the former a form of humiliation, the latter holding hope for at least some sort of salvation.

The GrandOther fulfills her part in this grand scheme by purposefully discounting pretty much everything I mention.
I eventually caught on and now play up my disconnection, fulfilling the role sage grandpas have fulfilled since the ancient Phoenicians' time. We're stuck in obsolete technology. We attempt lame analogies. We can cite precedents and sources, and nothing could possibly make our observations worse. To her, I certainly must seem clueless, so why should I try to convince her otherwise? Alright then, I think, I'll be even more obtuse than I'd earlier considered. I become positively steam-powered, and as such, start to master one of essential Irrelevances. With continued practice, I hold hope of ultimately mastering this dance.

Play requires a growing separation between ego and self, certainly not to the point of selflessness, for that state seems pointless, but to approaching the point where one recognizes that nothing is ultimately very much about them. You're at best an observer. They will not seek your sage advice, however much you might convince yourself that you probably know better, because they cannot afford to hear it. They must—and they will insist—make their own mistakes, propose their own naive solutions, stumble upon revelations the hard and old-fashioned way, just like you did in your day. There are no relevant instructions, no short-cut introductions, no hope of ingratiation, so rest easy in your saddle. You've entered the time for mastering TheIrrelevancies now.

I thought that perhaps I might list the more prominent irrelevancies for handy reference, but such an effort more than hints at an attempt to contribute to the general understanding, a clear step in the direction of relevance. Better to hold that wisdom close to the vest, to observe with discerning detachment. Those in power today will one day face the supreme contradiction of fading away and they deserve to find a blank slate greeting their entry. They cannot hear you, anyway, you with your seemingly Steampunk ways, for they know you to have championed what they came to vanquish, however slanderous their arguments. They convinced themselves and chased you off, what else has ever determined progress? It's not different or better, just theirs, and that's important, that's enough.

Watch with amusement and mind your heart. Take joy in separation, deliberately lose your grip. What propelled you through ten thousand innovations, insights, and revelations, propels you no longer. You're on a downhill slide. Your once supreme sense of self importance has matured into a sin. You may with some evident joy carry on long conversations with your surviving confederates, light-hearted chats focusing upon what the upcoming lads are doing, what they're royally screwing up all by themselves, just like you did once. An appreciation descends upon an existence when seen from the approximate distances only achievable beyond middle age. A
muddle age descends, or so the masters convincingly pretend, an impotence, sure, but one which could not possibly matter.

No seventy year old should ever even attempt to buy their clothes on Carnaby Street, for magenta wide wale, hip hugging, bell bottom cords have always been utterly incompatible with the elder's physique. Same story with ideas. Those espousing their grandchildren's causes become traitors to their own life's work which always was bound and determined to become irrelevant. State of the art after twenty years becomes indistinguishable from some Barbie and Ken appliance. 'Twas always thus. Us of the emerging elder generation owe it to our progeny as much as we owe it to ourselves and to this world, to quietly master TheIrrelevancies while inevitably slipping into a growing good twilight. Good night!

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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