These Dementing Times
Nick Cave’s Red Hand Files are essential reading, and I believe a collection of his best responses would be on a par with Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. Witness this recent response to Remko from Belgium, facing the imminent horror of turning 40:
My advice to you is to grow a porn star moustache and learn the electric guitar — it worked for me — and try to hang in there until you’re sixty. Then you’ll find you don’t have to worry about what people say any more and, as a consequence, life becomes a whole lot more interesting.
Entering your sixties brings with it a warm and fuzzy feeling of freedom through redundancy, through obsolescence, through living outside of the conversation and forever existing on the wrong end of the stick. What a relief it is to be that mad, embarrassing uncle in the corner of the room, a product of his age, with his loopy ideas about free speech and freedom of expression, with his love of beauty, of humour, chaos, provocation and outrage, of conversation and debate, his adoration of art without dogma, his impatience with the morally obvious, his belief in universal compassion, forgiveness and mercy, in nuance and the shadows, in neutrality and in humanity — ah, beautiful humanity — and in God too, who he thanks for letting him, in these dementing times, be old.
You won’t get such generosity and wisdom from most twats passing themselves off as ‘rock stars’ these days, and as far as becoming the embarrassing uncle in the corner is concerned, I’m not even waiting until I’m 60, I’m doing it now.