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ZERZAN, John. "Youth and Regression in an Infantile Society"

"Narcissistic disappointment, often termed "unrealistic," cannot accept the essentially "mediocre" nature of ordinary life "

Article published on 19 July 2005
last modification on 27 April 2015

by r-c.
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Among the young there are quite a few examples of a tendency to regress or turn back. Whether or not these phenomena are characteristic of something called "Generation X" we must leave for media to determine; after all, it’s their job to define and make intelligible social reality. That aside, I think there are aspects of regression that are noteworthy/possibly significant, and which need to be put in context.

Childhood was once a place of refuge, a secure zone of protection and innocence. For some time, however, as with every other part of life, the commodity and its attendant forms of violence have invaded this sphere. And yet it continues to represent a sort of haven, if some youth fashions are any indication. The waif look and Dr. Seuss-style clothes reflect this yearning to go back to a relatively better time and place. Seeing teens in oversized shirts and sweaters, for example, the sleeves hiding their hands, gives one a pronounced impression that they fear where they’re headed and would like to be small children again.

Popular forms of speech are another site of regression, it is possible to argue. Making statements into questions by the use of rising intonation is a type of stepping back from reality. The declarative sentence becomes an entreaty, "am I right in making even the most inoccuous assertion?" The speaker unconsciously questions his or her ability to say anything straightforwardly.


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