Monday, April 28, 2014

The Age Gap: Young Turks VS Angry Graybeards?

David Gerrold of Star Trek fame (“The Trouble With Tribbles”) wrote about the illusion of a generational gap between younger writers and older ones.

“I have been unreliably informed that one of the current kerfuffles in SF is the generation gap between young turks and angry greybeards. This is news to me.
The young turks did not invent science fiction. Not when Asimov and Pohl were young turks. Not when Ellison and Spinrad were young Turks. Not when Gibson and Gaiman were young turks.

The "generation gap" in science fiction is an artificial argument -- the same way the New Wave versus Hard Science was an artificial argument back in the sixties.

The fact is that SF is an evolving literature. Unlike any other branch of literature, SF functions as a series of unanswered questions. Like science itself, it's not about answers, it's about questions and possibilities and more questions and more possibilities.”

I encourage everyone who likes good SF and an intelligent debate from a liberal (and albet sometimes angry) perspective to check out his writings. He’s very similar to Harlan Ellison in respect to experience and angst – I wouldn’t mind sharing a bottle of wine with those two for a podcast someday.

There are aspects of what Mr. Gerrold says that I agree with, and there are some parts that I flat out deny or shun. There are aspects of the different age groups that are totally different from one another; there is indeed a difference between the “Young Turks” and “Angry Greybeards” that needs to be addressed.

First you can take SF (also known as “Sci-Fi” to the uninformed and uninitiated.) and replace it with any other art forum; art, dance music, architecture, graphic design. Anything that involves creativity could be covered under his rant. If you are a so-called “creative” then his message could be received and understood by you.

The young Turks haven’t been beaten down by the system of concerned parents, pragmatic editors and bitter failed authors turned critics. Young artists and creative types think anything and everything is possible because they don’t know better. To them there are no limits yet because nobody has smacked them out of the sky with the back of their hands with a loud, authorities thunder of the word “no.” They think they are invincible because they are – their armor of youthful enthusiasm has not been worn down by some “elder” indoctrinating them with “the rules” of art and/or the steps to becoming “successful.”

For many youthful artists the only thing keeping them from doing incredible work is experience with their medium – if they can imagine something than it’s just a matter of working with the materials and getting it done since “can’t” hasn’t been ingrained into their vocabulary.

As for the angry graybeards - there is a reason why they are angry. They were former young Turks with all the aforementioned youthful enthusiasm and boundless creativity until they were indoctrinated by the angry graybeards of their time when they were young. They accepted the words or phrases “can’t,” “must not” and should not” into their vocabulary.

I am one of those aging graybeards who refuses to be angry. What is my secret? I made the conscience decision to refuse to allow negativity to creep into my life and the work I do. I’m older with more experience with the elements and principals of design under my belt. I know the rules so I have a good idea how to bend them without breaking.

The problem with many of my fellow graybeards (especially the angry ones) is that there came a point when they became afraid to fail. Failure sometimes means going out on the limb for the sweeter fruit and falling out of the tree. After this happens, too many times, we become too cautious and play it safe; playing it safe means not trying anything new.

The trick at this stage of being a graybeard is to tap into the youthful enthusiasm is to literally unlearn fear and then find new ways of doing things. Like I said in my earlier rant, “Graphic Designers Are Reading: Science Fiction” you literally have to allow yourself to experience and explore new things. Go back to the time of your life when you had nothing better to do that experience life as you were coming into your own, the universe was boundless, and literally, anything was possible. Relearn what it is to be free enough to fail just enough to get that twinge of excitement that went with every new venture.

In short, angry graybeards need to relearn how to be Young Turks again…

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