Like everyone I have opinions. I think Beethoven’s violin concerto is the most beautiful musical composition ever written. I believe bubble gum is disgusting. My point is that opinions are always matters of taste until they’re informed by nuance and scruple. I can change my mind about Beethoven’s concerto though probably not about the gum.
We grow out of our first tastes if we’re lucky. “Lucky” means we’re capable of growing which means we become capable of seeing complexity. We turn into adults. I used to like a certain rock and roll band. Now when I hear them I cringe. What happened? My world got bigger. Miles Davis took the place of Frank Zappa. The more intricate your self awareness the more so your taste.
Years ago the Jungian psychoanalyst Marie Louise Von Franz wrote a terrific book about men in modern societies who fail to become adults. She called them eternal boys. They are everywhere. These men are marked by an inability to form lasting relationships with adults, tend to jump from job to job and are disposed to leave town abruptly if life gets too serious. They crave recognition for their talents but hate responsibility. Here’s an interesting quote: “The one thing dreaded throughout by such a type of man is to be bound to anything whatever. There is a terrific fear of being the singular human being that one is. There is always the fear of being caught in a situation from which it may be impossible to slip out again. Every just-so situation is hell.”
Just so situations are of course the primary ingredient in growth. The eternal boy does not want to grow up and becomes angry when forced to deal with adult matters. It’s the girl friend’s fault he can’t manage his business; it’s the people around him who are the source of his essential problems.
You’ve lived through adolescence and you know the type. If you work in any kind of office setting you know the type. The current president of the United States exhibits eternal boy child characteristics. The eternal boy child wants praise but really hopes to avoid responsibility. Now as we face a critical shortage of medical supplies and equipment Trump refuses to lead. Boys can’t do it. In Roman times the generals put the boys in front so they’d die first and they were called the infantry.
There are eternal girl children too. Toxic ingrown adolescence is no longer just for boys. American entertainment knows this and panders to it. All pop music and Hollywood culture is designed for people stuck in adolescence.
When you watch Donald Trump’s fatuous and self-aggrandizing press conferences notice Dr. Anthony Fauci. He’s the adult. Trump is the eternal angry boy who loves the limelight but resents his duty.