There is a new Peter Pan movie* on at the cinema and thanks to the way my mind works I found myself looking up the idea of ‘Peter Pan Syndrome’ on Wikipedia. Turns out it is a ‘pop-psychology’ idea rather than something with more scientific grounding but ’puer aeternus’ (eternal boy) seems pretty well established as a Jungian concept.
Now as I was looking this up I was on a bus wearing a Mr.Robot hoodie, custom Adidas Superstars, listening to a ‘grime’ playlist and had just been to my local comic book store to collect a LOT of books (not an irregular occurrence). I am 42 years old. It is safe to say I have skin in the game when it comes to understanding this.
Now apparently from a psychological point of view ‘puer aeternus’ is;
”an older man whose emotional life has remained at an adolescent level.”
From a personal point of view there is certainly a case to be made that a great deal of my cultural preferences were sealed in and around my adolescence — but isn’t that true for a lot of people — that is why those horrible 80s retro bars exist for instance. I still read sci-fi, crime fiction and comics. I still listen to hip hop and electro. My tastes in TV and movies are often referred to as ‘genre’ by our American cousins. I dress like a budget Beastie Boy**.
I’m less convinced that my ‘emotional life’ is quite so stunted as my ‘cultural life’ but then as a stroppy adolescent I would think that wouldn’t I. However an argument could be made by other, better adjusted, people that I might have a case to answer!
There is probably a serious question about whether the fact that so many [men] choose not to really, fully grow up these days is why so much of the internet has become a cesspit. Huge amounts of basically hormonal teenage boy personalities (even if in fact they are middle aged) running wild and unchecked was never going to end well.
No lesser geek royalty than Simon Pegg has blogged about the idea of ‘prolonged youth’ — albeit mainly to talk his way out of some misjudged comments in an interview that royally peeved his fanbase.
What Pegg was trying to express was that there are now so many in this perpetually adolescent state (at least from an cultural point of view) that they are now being catered to and marketed at to such an extent there is a danger that it is all being dumbed down and mass produced in search of even wider audiences. The geeks may have inherited the world but the bankers still gots to get paid.
Anyway I certainly don’t feel alone in this behaviour and given my recent near panic attack when I realised I needed to buy a suit (for a visit to Buckingham Palace no less) it is safe to say I won’t be changing anytime soon but maybe, just maybe, it is time to grow up just a little.
*It is apparently dreadful.