Though mostly when I think of myself
at that age, I am standing at my older brother’s closet
studying the shirts,
convinced that I could be absolutely transformed
by something I could borrow.
And the days churned by,
- Robert Hass, Our Lady of the Snows
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.
- Auden, September 1, 1939.
I have long seen youth as the lyrical age, that is, the age when the individual, focused almost exclusively on himself, is unable to see, to comprehend, to judge clearly the world around him. If we start with that hypothesis (necessarily schematic, but which, as a schema, I find accurate), then to pass from immaturity to maturity is to move beyond the lyrical attitude.
- Kundera, The Curtain
The cold air stung us and we played till our bodies glowed.
- Joyce, Dubliners
Looking back, I doubt if it ever occurred to me that the way I felt towards this roommate was probably the way my father felt about me—that I was just as much a conformist as he was, plus a hypocrite, a ‘rebel’ who really just sponged off of society in the form of his parents. I wish I could say I was aware enough for this contradiction to sink in at the time, although I probably would have just turned it into some kind of hip, nihilistic joke. At the same time, sometimes I know I worried about my directionlessness and lack of initiative, how abstract and open to different interpretations everything seemed at the time, even about how fuzzy and pointless my memories were starting to seem. My father, on the other hand, I know, remembered everything—in particular, physical details, the precise day and time of appointments, and past statements which were now inconsistent with present statements. But then, I would learn that this sort of close attention and total recall was part of his job.
- David Foster Wallace, The Pale King (the Chris Fogle part)