The Genius of Martin Amis

Many of us belonging to that collective known as the sixties generation have been overly reflective of late, grappling as we are with our influence on modern life and politics -- not to mention the ongoing inwardness of just being us. In our younger days, we did it bigger, louder, and more radically than most.

Our emblematic music was more emblematic, our demonstrations were sometimes violent populist marches that bettered anything on our television sets, the concern we showed for our brothers was a more genuine concern, our devotion to our causes was a devotion rarely seen, and our self-gratification was a flag we proudly waved.

We "children of the sixties" changed the world. We took the mantle from our parents to create arguably the most successful and prosperous era known to man, and we made it fair for everyone. We made it greener and safer for animals, and we even made the realization that we are bigger than the world and need to retool and save our planet from ourselves. We cast off finally those shackles of religion and we made the few children we could manage even more like ourselves. Such a lot to be reflective about.

Into the maturing midst of that staggers author Martin Amis, who thinks we deserve a medal because, I suppose, of our greatness. The British Sunday papers (see here and here) have reported that Amis, in an interview with the Sunday Times Magazine, has some interesting ideas about how we can enjoy our old age.

Amis is in a "real paranoid funk" about outliving his talent (please let us not wrestle too much with that tiger). Science has apparently let him down and threatened to keep him alive too long. (He should visit the Hadley climate center and have them rework the numbers.)

Oh, and by the way, the solution to our woes is, according to Amis, that we should all off ourselves. He says, "There should be a way out for rational people who've decided they're in the negative."

Amis suggests that "euthanasia booths" on street corners will perhaps prevent this runaway aging and answer the pressing problem of "how is society going to support this silver tsunami?" None of the busywork of dying naturally for us -- it is just too messy a business, and it will upset our family and friends. Woe is me for not having had the guts to do a James Dean when the complexion was still perfect, but there is still the opportunity to exit before the narcissistic imbalance is complete. Amis continues:

There'll be a population of demented very old people, like an invasion of terrible immigrants, stinking out the restaurants and cafes and shops. I can imagine a sort of civil war between the old and the young in 10 or 15 years.

Well suffocate me with a tie-dye shirt.

What to do? Should we pile the bodies outside these booths awaiting pickup, or is there a disposal chute to some Soylent Green-like facility to recycle what is recyclable? Better yet, imagine a neighborhood gathering. It's like a Tupperware party, except you invite the grandkids along, where with a Jim Jones shooter in one hand and a medal proudly on your chest, you toast those already gone to the next commune -- toast those who valiantly rebelled against the status quo of getting just that much too old. Drink up.

In a nutshell, our love-in generation, in chasing some utopia imagined during an orgasm at a smoke-shrouded rock concert, created a world where the strong are punished for being strong, the weak are rewarded for not being strong, the failings of many are the fault of others,and  the politics of failed states are preferable to those that made us who we are and afforded us this time to kill. We throw billions of dollars at projects in and out of our own countries that continuously fail, but we persist because it is the right thing to do.

Prejudice is afforded one group to prevent prejudice against another. Men have been declared out of fashion, and if the man is white-skinned, don't even bother. We felt that children cramped our style, and now we are left with few citizens to sustain our economy and support our pensions. We have populated our universities with professors from another planet who teach the history of that planet, and our cities with religious fanatics who daily promise to kill us. We have taken a simple, perhaps sometimes necessary medical procedure and around it created a death cult. Our elected representatives have so abused the weaker elements of our wonderful political system that it seems beyond saving. To smooth the rough edges, we have neutered the traditional news media so they will not upset us while we have our lattes. We set out to save the world, and ended with the notion that perhaps premature death is the best option.

Look where we have brought ourselves.

Hey, Marty, pass the Jim Jones.
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