Monday, January 20, 2003

More From Dekkers

One more -- the last -- citation from Midas Dekkers' The Way of All Flesh to get your week off to a rousing start:

The classical 'Stairway of Life', with its uniformly high and beautifully symmetrical steps, seemed to suggest that we grow old gradually, at a steady walking pace. But nothing could be further from the truth. By the time you get your first grey hair and are convinced you're on the slippery slope, the worst is behind you. You did most of your ageing when you were very young. With their bald heads and toothless gums, newborn babies not only resemble old men [sic], in some senses they are old men [sic]. They age more rapidly then than they ever will again. Not only is their body feverishly constructing, it's also feverishly deconstructing. . . . Their [tissues'] regenerative powers are forever decreasing. In old people the vigour's gone and they die. But it's not their fault. It was their younger body, not their older one, that used up all the vitality. During a single month in a baby's life, the ability to replace old cells with new diminishes more rapidly than during one whole year of an old person's life. "Our notion that man passes through a period of development and a period of decline is misleading,' wrote Carles Minot as early as 1908. "In reality we begin life with a period of extremely rapid decline, and then end life with a decline which is very slow and very slight." An old person shuffles towards death inch by inch, whereas a baby gallops towards the grave. An older person is slower at everything -- even dying. (20)

Now, it's high time I send this book back to the library. The $20 fine ain't going down anytime soon.