the nightmare that comes first


Eos, the goddess of dawn, persuaded Zeus to bestow immortality on her human lover Tithonus. But she forgot to ask for enduring youth as well. Big mistake. Eventually, Tithonus became a withered old wreck, and Eos shut him away for eternity. We all know the feeling, or soon will. Death may be our common fate but our common fear is the nightmare that comes first: growing old. Aristotle saw ageing as a nasty process that turns us into cynical, emotionally shrivelled Scrooges. In As You Like It, Shakespeare panned life’s last act as “second childishness and mere oblivion. Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” Martin Amis, in his recent novel The Pregnant Widow, likens ageing to “auditioning for the role of a lifetime; then, after interminable rehearsals, you’re finally starring in a horror film – a talentless, irresponsible, and above all low-budget horror film, in which (as is the way with horror films) they’re saving the worst for last”.

more from Donald Morrison at the FT here.