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Inspired Contributor
kittykat59
Posts: 44
Registered: ‎12-08-2008
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Re: Perpetual Adolescence

I feel we all live in a state of perpetual adolescence at different times in our lives. Sometimes we manage to get out of it for the most part but never fully. No one does. It doesn't matter what age you are. Sometimes age is just a number.
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sam608
Posts: 9
Registered: ‎12-03-2008
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Re: Perpetual Adolescence

I'm 53, raised 5 kids and have 3 grandkids and I still have times of perpectual adolescences.  All it takes is for me and my girlfriends to get together for lunch or a movie or even just working on our crafts and we start acting like a bunch of teenagers. I also find myself still wanting to do or think the exact opposite of anything my dad saids (mom died 5 yrs ago) even if I actually agree with him.  For some reason, it bugs me for him to be right.  Now, thats pathetic isn't it?  So yes, I think we all have a state of perpectual adolescence.  Maybe it keeps us young.
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bookclubclassics
Posts: 9
Registered: ‎11-27-2007
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Re: Perpetual Adolescence


mapleann wrote:
Question for the reading group: How do you define becoming an adult? What differentiates and adolescent from an adult? What values do we attach to each?

 

Mapleann -- I read your compelling questions earlier in the day and have let them "percolate" a bit this afternoon, but I keep coming back to the same answer: 

 

I think I equate becoming an adult with the ability to take responsibility for our lives -- our actions, our happiness, our bills, our relationships, etc...

 

I think once we stop looking to external things (whether to other people or to our address :smileywink: ) to define us and provide meaning in our lives, then we have attained "adulthood." 

 

So, thanks for getting me thinking this afternoon!

kgalles
www.bookclubclassics.com
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Chatterbox
Posts: 32
Registered: ‎11-28-2008
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Re: Perpetual Adolescence

This overall question begs another question: what is adulthood and what is meant by 'perpetual adolesence'.

 

To me, the latter is an inability to define your life on your own terms. If you are still asking yourself how others view your choices, and making choices in anticipation of that, then yes, you're still stuck in perpetual adolesence. Hence my irritation with Beth as a character. She drifts, she second-guesses everyone else, etc.

 

It's not as much about the actual taking responsibility (although that is part of it), but the question of where your sense of self comes from. If you only function as part of a group -- or primarily as part of an insular group of this kind -- then how are you an adult?

 

I don't, however, believe that this is necessarily what the adults in the book mean by the phrase. I suspect they are referring primarily to the business of settling down at "a" job, buying a home, etc. etc.

 

In a way, the characters each are deferring adulthood in that sense, by choosing (many of them) career paths that will make it difficult to reach traditional milestones. Of course, what the adults in Rakoff's book don't understand is that in a city such as New York, reaching that form of adulthood may never occur! (Given the cost of living here, trying to sustain life as a teacher, artist, student, etc. is surreally difficult.)

Inspired Correspondent
EbonyAngel
Posts: 276
Registered: ‎12-22-2006
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Re: Perpetual Adolescence


mapleann wrote:
Question for the reading group: How do you define becoming an adult? What differentiates and adolescent from an adult? What values do we attach to each?

 

I think in some ways we never become "adult".  We do learn to make our own way and our own decisions but even then, at times we look to others to help us or pat us on the back. 

I think the difference between being an adolescent is the fact that adults mostly weigh their decisions as to the outcome, how it effects others.  Adolescents just go with it.

Society has programed us to think of it as reaching a certain age but in most cases, that's not the case.  We don't all of a sudden wake up on our 21st birthday and be adult.

Just so I don't get carried away with this, I'll throw something in.  Having raised 6 children, it seemed to me that from the time they turned about 12 til they got to be about 25, they were what I call 'brain dead".  You know how it goes, parents don't know anything until your child is an adult.  :smileyvery-happy:

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pandy914
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎12-08-2008
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Re: Perpetual Adolescence

I think that, after college, many twenty-somethings cling to some aspect of their previous identities out of insecurity, whether it be through their attitudes toward working, their financial dependence on their parents, or their unwillingness to abandon the academic world entirely.  Of course, it doesn't help that many starting salaries make it difficult to live totally independently in New York City.  With the exception of Tuck, at least these characters are struggling to find their own footing in this new environment, albeit not completely successfully.
"Do not pity the dead...Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love."
--J. K. Rowling, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows"
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biljounc63
Posts: 189
Registered: ‎11-02-2008
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Re: Perpetual Adolescence


KxBurns wrote:

biljounc63, Tarri, absolutely -- the fact the characters choose careers that do not promise financial security reflects a refusal to acknowledge the economic responsibilities of adulthood and also reflects the safety net of their upper-middle class upbringings. But rather than allowing them to carry on blissfully unaware of the financial realities of life, it has the effect of making their lives less carefree and more difficult.

 

Do you think the characters undertake the more difficult path out of rebelliousness, or a true committment to their artistic ideals, or simple naivete? Do the financial struggles that characters like Emily and Lil face make them more or less adult than Sadie, or Dave's bandmate Curtis, or the Green-Golds? Are the latter characters simply play-acting by adopting the starving artist lifestyle?


I'm not sure if they undertake the more difficult difficult path to rebel or even a committment their artistic ways. I lean in the direction of them wanting to want to delay true aldulthood by prolonging the time spent in school. The longer they remain in grad school the more they delay entering the real world. This will only make it harder to accept when it hits.   

 

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
~ Joseph Addison ~

"Reading lets you visit the world of another"
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Chatterbox
Posts: 32
Registered: ‎11-28-2008
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Re: Perpetual Adolescence

These characters have been insulated from the need to earn a living (I counted only one reference to student loans) -- uncharacteristically, perhaps, but obviously that is the kind of group Rakoff wanted to portray.

 

Financial struggles don't make any character seem more or less adult. I'm actually having a hard time telling whether the reason for the 'difficult paths' they have chosen (or find themselves on) is rebelliousness, naivete, commitment -- or just that it is the path of least resistance and highest status among their peers. I don't think I'm receiving enough insight into the characters to even speculate. Except Beth, where I'm tempted to say her current plight (jobwise) is sheer fecklessness -- and the same may be true of the relationship with Will -- just grab what is there in case there is nothing else or because she doesn't have a sense of what she chooses for herself. Certainly, so far, she is the only person who has spoken of her academic interests (her thesis in ch. 1) with passion, as opposed to a kind of blase attitude, frustration, etc. Indeed, I don't get any sense of passionate engagement on the part of any of these characters. In anything. Which I would have thought of as a criteria of adolescence?

Wordsmith
kiakar
Posts: 3,435
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Perpetual Adolescence

Hey Sam608;  Don't you feel this is just a human flaw we all have and it will emerge from us at anytime. I am 65 and I can still act two if I get upset enought. that is, until I realize how old I really am. :smileyvery-happy:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


sam608 wrote:
I'm 53, raised 5 kids and have 3 grandkids and I still have times of perpectual adolescences.  All it takes is for me and my girlfriends to get together for lunch or a movie or even just working on our crafts and we start acting like a bunch of teenagers. I also find myself still wanting to do or think the exact opposite of anything my dad saids (mom died 5 yrs ago) even if I actually agree with him.  For some reason, it bugs me for him to be right.  Now, thats pathetic isn't it?  So yes, I think we all have a state of perpectual adolescence.  Maybe it keeps us young.

 

Inspired Contributor
mapleann
Posts: 44
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Perpetual Adolescence

I shall answer my own question now.

 

When I posed the question about what differentiates an adult from an adolescent, it was because I was pondering the question myself. Am I an adult yet? I just had my 33rd birthday in the last week, so yes, I am very close to the age of the group. Am I in perpetual adolescence still? Will I ever grow out of it? Probably not, and maybe it is because I have always been given the liberty to make radical decisions. I had a child out of wedlock (to my polar Tuck), married him a year later--okay more reckless and obstreperous in hindsight. I knew he was an arse from the first week I knew him, but so unconventional like Wil and amazingly intelligent and with so much potential like Tuck. When the economy changed after 9/11, my ex lost his lucrative position. I was a homemaker and we lost almost everything we had, including our brand new house that was larger that both of our parents' combined. Now, leaning into adulthood, I took the first job that I could find--selling cars. My "Tuck", on the other hand, blamed the world and sat at home screaming he was being persecuted; and had he of gone out and got just about any kind of job, we wouldn't have lost the house. It took several more years, with my "Tuck", to realize that the potential I saw was never going to be realized as long as he viewed himself as the victim, or maybe it was more my commitment to the vows of marriage. Even after the divorce, he has not changed, and the divorce was just one more way the world was unfair and cruel (I found Rakoff's description of Tuck very poignant). So, yes, I see my "Tuck" still as a child. I have taken responsibility, and I do weigh my actions more carefully now, more adult like yet, but I am still willing to take chances. I work in a low income position, education as it may, and I just finished my master's for more continuation in a low income field. I was afforded the opportunity to chose to work at a low income position only because I have a support system. Lil's pride, and fear, is what won't let her admit to her error in marrying Tuck... I understand that. I am not that far into the book, chapter 7, but I would understand, and even like her to see LIl face some humility and get out of her marriage.  So responsibility, humility, and being able to make difficult decisions are part of what I consider becoming an adult. I understand characters' tug between social activism, egocentrism, and an absorption into art/academia. Are some of these values lost as an adult? I almost hear the group saying that adulthood is when you commit yourself to a boring, safe existence and what is sequestered is our dreams and fantasies. It is a fact of life, like dying.

 

So, the next question I am going to ask the group...what are the positives, or the gifts that our societal members that are trapped in perpetual adolescence have added to our communities and our world? I honestly see virtue in perpetual adolescence, such as unorthodox thinking that breathes new life into our economy and invents wondrous new avenues is all fields. I would like to hear what others in the group have to say.

Inspired Bibliophile
Vermontcozy
Posts: 5,279
Registered: ‎10-20-2008
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Re: Perpetual Adolescence

The link and dependence between the characters and their parents are clear to me. Control..parents of that generation will keep on giving ,because then they still feel they can influence their lives.Its very typical in a certain class situation. Even though I am a New Yorker,who lives in Vt,this happens all over the world.They are expected to do well,marry.have children and be everything to everybody.Attainable,no,but because most of the characters are overachievers,they don't see the link.Perpetual Adolescence,I like that phrase......College  crucial to their parents, and defines the characters...will probably not be as important as the book goes on...haven't gone that far yet...I am probably just over analyzing too soon..vtc
Kindness,I've discovered,is everything in life...Issac Bashevis Singer
Distinguished Correspondent
biljounc63
Posts: 189
Registered: ‎11-02-2008
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Re: Perpetual Adolescence

We must remember that the book is set in the dot com era where many people were paid alot to do not alot and were even encouraged to play at work as part of being creative. This translated into many different carreers and the artsy world was one of them. I for one was not so lucky!

 

I am one who believes that acedemia really does not prepare people for the world in general and encourages the delay of aldulthood...

 

Lunch is over time to get back to work

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
~ Joseph Addison ~

"Reading lets you visit the world of another"
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Jon_B
Posts: 1,893
Registered: ‎07-15-2008
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Re: Perpetual Adolescence

I have a question for those of you who seem to draw a thick line between academia and "the real world", the world of adults:

 

How far does this go?  Do people who go straight from undergrad to a PhD program and then straight into professional acedemia - maybe starting as an assistant professor or something and then becoming a tenured professor, never truly become adults?  Are academic professionals not "mature" or "adult" regardless of their age?  Why not?

 

 

 

 

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kolsonheld
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Perpetual Adolescence

I am the same age as 'the group,' and I can't help but think of one of the biggest ways I see perpetual adolescence in my friends and classmates - those who moved back in with their parents after graduating from college. (Not me, happily married and working since graduation, meeting our obligations.) They say they are just trying to save money while looking for 'the' job. Others on here have said that choosing independence or thinking beyond one's self are markers of adulthood. I don't know that 'the group' was consciously choosing to live in perpetual adolescence as much as they knew there would be a safety net if they needed it, but my peers have clearly chosen to be dependent on their parents for now.

 

Is it more acceptable to be naively living in perpetual adolescence or seemingly choosing it? I find myself more accepting of the former, hoping that they are working towards independence and just falling a bit short right now. But maybe that's just idealistic of me. :smileyhappy:

Karin
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quinncx
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎07-21-2008
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Re: Perpetual Adolescence

I definitely found the characters mired in perpetual adolescence, and apparently unable to recognize that fact.  Getting married and having babies doesn't make you an adult, and I feel these characters were all hiding their immaturity behind the trappings of adulthood.  I don't know that academia is to blame; it seemed to me that none of them were passionately involved in their studies and had rather drifted into grad school.  Many of them failed to finish their degrees, and removing themselves from academia didn't seem to have a noticeable impact on their adolescent behaviors and attitudes.
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Tarri
Posts: 457
Registered: ‎02-26-2007
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Re: Perpetual Adolescence


Jon_B wrote:

I have a question for those of you who seem to draw a thick line between academia and "the real world", the world of adults:

 

How far does this go?  Do people who go straight from undergrad to a PhD program and then straight into professional acedemia - maybe starting as an assistant professor or something and then becoming a tenured professor, never truly become adults?  Are academic professionals not "mature" or "adult" regardless of their age?  Why not?

 


I'm not sure if I am answering the question you are asking, but as I see it some people are born old and muture, while others are born to be young and carefree.  Either way, it is possible that the "old souls" are lured to professions that will pay the larger salaries, because they need to feel settled.  On the other hand, those with the young souls do not see money as the be all and end all of their existence, so the low paying academic positions suit them.  Now it is also possible that a "young souls" will work at the high paying position, then retire early and join The Peace Corp.  

Wordsmith
Tarri
Posts: 457
Registered: ‎02-26-2007
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Re: Perpetual Adolescence


mapleann wrote:
*snip*

 

So, the next question I am going to ask the group...what are the positives, or the gifts that our societal members that are trapped in perpetual adolescence have added to our communities and our world? I honestly see virtue in perpetual adolescence, such as unorthodox thinking that breathes new life into our economy and invents wondrous new avenues is all fields. I would like to hear what others in the group have to say.


The world needs all kinds of people.  The perpetual adolescent may be the one who invents the next light bulb because they are willing to fail 84,000 times before they succeed.  The perpetual adolescent may be the only one with the patience to teach a child over and over why 2 + 2 = 4, because they can relate to that child.  

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pandy914
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Re: Perpetual Adolescence

Jon_B, I think that professional academics are one thing as far as adulthood is concerned, but there are some people who are "perpetual students";  they're always going to school for something, always starting new projects, but when it actually comes to putting their knowledge to use, it never happens.  Take Tuck's character, for example;  he was great at school, but lazy and ineffectual in the workplace and his personal relationships.
"Do not pity the dead...Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love."
--J. K. Rowling, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows"
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Jennd1
Posts: 75
Registered: ‎01-28-2008
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Re: Perpetual Adolescence

I think all of us are still children or childish in our own ways not even bad ways, but you see the grandparent that plays right along with the kids at the playground without being selfconsicous for example.  I think being an adult is taking responsibility for your actions and the outcomes good and bad that result.  I think getting to that point in your life is a gradual process and it happens at it's own pace which is different for everyone.  Some people get further along this path in college than others and for some entering the workforce is a "wakeup call".  I think each of us is a kid at heart in our own way.
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BDonnelly
Posts: 47
Registered: ‎04-22-2008
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Re: Perpetual Adolescence

I think original is a way that is truly rare these days, so, no they don't strike out in an original way.  But it was the way of the 90's and now.  Kids seem to be maturing later and later.  I think that's a factor of a number of things including that parents do too much for their children.  More often than not parents don't allow their children to take full responsibility for their lives (as Beth's mother doesn't) and as individuals less mature than full adults the young adults are fine with having the luxury of easing into adulthood.

 

I heven't read far enough ahead to know the resolution so can't answer the last part of the question.