Thursday, March 08, 2007

Elder bloggers

Picking up on my post about Health Anxiety Disorder, my mind has been drawing together some threads from my recent blog wanderings and some stuff I have thought about before. I had a visit to my blog the other day from somebody who calls himself Klimt, and he uses as his avatar the detail below from the artist's welknown painting called The Kiss.

Another detail which is often reproduced is this one from Klimt's The Three Ages of Woman - so sweetly pretty and romantic.

It was some time before I came across a reproduction of the complete painting, and the effect was like a blow, as I am sure it was intended to be. [You can enlarge the small image at the top of the page to get the full impact.]

The depiction of the old woman is harsh and cruel, but also realistic ... or so I felt it to be at the time. For I was in the midst of the depression I have described which made an invalid of me, and I took the book containing the complete painting to show my therapist, so she could understand how I felt. But I came out of that, and whatever my mirror shows me today, ten years on, that is not how I feel now - so it is not how I am.

Then yesterday I wandered in to Ronni Bennett's blog Time Goes By, in which she describes her wish"to counter the complete absence, in popular writing about aging, of anything that is not focused on disease, decline and debility". In a piece in which she asks the question "When is someone old", she comments on how "the near-universal negative regard of old people goes back at least as far as Shakespeare who had a particularly harsh view of old age". Klimt has done nothing to alter that, but now some of us are trying - assisted, it's only fair to say, by advances in medicine and technological developments.

I started writing this blog 18 months ago under the banner of old age, because I too wanted to dispel the common perceptions of old people. But I have moved on since then, and I am beginning to wonder if I would do better to write as a woman of undeclared age, so that I should be seen purely for who I am, and not as a surprise or an exception to what people expect. Leo, one of my visitors, commented: "Congratulations for your blog and your age! you just seem a 30 old woman ;)" Doesn't that prove something?


stitchwort said...

It's interesting that age in furniture, china, or cars, merits the tags *antique*, *vintage*, or *classic*, which are all more complimentary than *old*, and describe desirable qualities.

Kaz who blogs at uses the expression *free spirit* for an OAP; I like it.

gracie said...

I guess that whichever age we have reached, we do not lose the girl or the younger woman... they remain part of who we are.

Lucy said...

A difficult one. When I read on your profile 'this blog is about being old', something in me protests at that, because it's so much more than that, but I feel also it's important to my perception of you to know your age; it is a part of what you are presenting to me, I can place you, your experiences and your point of view...and i must confess honestly I wouldn't perhaps have stopped and looked with such attention if you had been of undeclared age.
But perhaps I shouldn't need to place you, though, and, indeed, what I want from you isn't the most important thing!
I don't know. But you make me think.

Judith said...

Thanks for thinking Lucy, you have come up with something useful. Yes, my age *is* part of who I am, because I have more experience, more memories, and a longer perspective behind me than younger people. So I think I must continue to blog under the banner of old age, though perhaps emphasising it less or in different ways. [Certainly I feel deprived when I look for another blogger's age in their profile, and they haven't entered it.]

As for what you want from me - well I am certainly interested to know, though to be honest it is far more important to me to write what I want to say - as I imagine it is for most bloggers. I am not conscious of writing for any particular 'market'. That is the joy of blogging, to be as diverse and widely ranging as one chooses. And I suppose a blogger's readership is self-selecting.

Pauline said...

I was initially drawn to your site because of your title, NOT DEAD YET! in caps, I thought, someone that emphatic must have some good things to share about being alive. And I was right - you've left some thoughtful posts here and give us not only a glimpse into the past but you encourage us to put our own lives in perspective.

Judith said...

You have said that at just the right moment, Pauline. I have been considering changing the name of my blog, because a web search brings up so many other websites with the same name. And also because I feel that, in a way, I no longer need so desperately to prove that I'm alive! But perhaps I should stick with NOT DEAD YET!

Lee said...

In all honesty, your age is hidden and not apparent in your writings. I think writing as 'who you are' is much more complementary to you and your on-line persona.

Granny J said...

To change the subject entirely to Art: I now have an answer to the provenance of a certain bamboo curtain I recently found in a thrift shop. Thank you for posting that picture! As for the question of age: I am just now 80, but you see I still have "my mommy" so I don't feel old because I am remain part of a younger generation! The lady in question is 103!

Judith said...

Granny J, I can't imagine still having 'my mommy'around now, I was only 45 when I lost mine. How many generations are you altogether? Do you yourself have great-grandchildren?

Granny J said...

I played Scrabble with Mom until a few months ago -- although as healthy as can be otherwise, Mom's eyesight is pretty bad, she's now losing her short-term memory and is weakening in general. As for generations that follow me, I have one daughter and a stepson. The daughter has an adopted little girl who's five; the stepson has a boy and a girl in their early teens. I suppose that the long span between generations also helps determine one's outlook.

kokopelliwoman said...

Judith, what a lovely, lovely blog. I love the term "oldies," mostly because it reminds me of my two years living in Australia--as a word person, it's a joy to read/hear how other cultures use language. Regarding the implications, however, the US youth-oriented culture is not so lovely.

I hope you are in good health, and that you post again soon! I applaud your decision to self-identify as a wise, beautiful, woman in the full bloom of elderhood!