The Age of Ages

I read a review of Watchmen and it said something about how the premise might be dated because it was written during the height of the cold war. It struck me because as far as I know almost nobody really thinks of 1985 as the raging year of the cold war. Normally they think back to tit-for-tat hydrogen bomb testing, Vietnam, the Missile Crisis, or Khrushchev getting shut out of Disneyland.

So what does that mean? I think that eras and ages amount to exactly dick. They are rhetorical devices that writers and politicians use to manufacture significance. Think about it, at the same time Americans were supposedly consumed by the darkness that brought us Watchmen, groupies were blowing stagehands so they could ‘bang the broads in Poison’ and John Hughes was shooting The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller back to back.

When was the last time you got up and actually felt the cultural consciousness pulling you this way or that? The underlying variable (people) are basically unchanged between now and then and 500 years ago, but we have no problem casually referring to the Decade of Greed or the Roaring 20s or the ‘Panic’ of some year the market crashed. The fact of the matter is that we have no idea what we’re talking about. We’re just trying make ourselves seem more important, like maybe if we give that generation an ethos someone will be kind enough to return the favor and that will somehow undo the fact that you’re dead and none of it matters.

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.