Saturday, February 02, 2008

Canonization of the Sixty Eight Generation

As I write in the dark of the Scandinavian night, on the other side of the Atlantic the Super Tuesday thing is unfolding. It is interesting and I am looking forward to finding out winners and so on in the morning. What just occurred to me is that Hillary Clinton was born in 1947, Barack Obama in 1961 and John McCain in 1936. These birth dates really cast a defining form around each of the characters in this democratic drama. But what made a connection for me was a discussion I had with two collegues the other day at the lunch table.
It was point out in the conversation that we are now watching the formation of a cannon from the culture that has been produced by and has accompanied those born in the 1940s. Just off the top of my head I can think of several figures I have encountered in media and conversation just in the last few days that I believe represent part of this canonically body:

Serge Gainsborough (b. 1928)
Dorris Lessing (b. 1919)
Bob Dylan (b. 1941)
Gianni Versace (b. 1946)
Iggy Pop (b. 1947)
Rudi Dutschke (b. 1940)
Cornelis Vreeswijk (b. 1937)
Germaine Greer (b. 1939)

Of course the list could on and on. The point I am vaguely trying to make is that a generation is moving on to the next (and perhaps final stage) of its enormous influence over cultural and (perhaps...we'll know tomorrow) political life with the retirement of many from the 1940s set. Those (very few) that manned the barricades in 68, those more numerous that took up the fashions and attitudes of Dylan, Gainsborough, Versace (when they had more money in the 80s) and those many who served in the military and worked hard through the 70s are now settling down to relax and enjoy their pensions. The outcome of the 2008 United States Presidential election will perhaps be a transitional event between the generation that has been in power since they took over from their parents and grandparents in the 1970s and 80s, and those who came of age in the 80s and began being heard in the 1990s. The cannon of works that have been so important to the generation born in the decade around World War II will be in a state of flux over the coming years but it seems to be now starting to set around the edges. Those who built it will no doubt be making use of it in their final years. I wonder what is on Obama's iPod?

1 comment:

NickeH said...

This is a list of polar prize winners. I think it speaks for itself:

2007 - Sonny Rollins and Steve Reich
2006 - Led Zeppelin and Valery Gergiev
2005 - Gilberto Gil and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
2004 - B. B. King and György Ligeti
2003 - Keith Jarrett
2002 - Sofia Gubaidulina and Miriam Makeba
2001 - Burt Bacharach, Robert Moog and Karlheinz Stockhausen
2000 - Bob Dylan and Isaac Stern
1999 - Stevie Wonder and Iannis Xenakis
1998 - Ray Charles and Ravi Shankar
1997 - Eric Ericson and Bruce Springsteen
1996 - Pierre Boulez and Joni Mitchell
1995 - Sir Elton John and Mstislav Rostropovich
1994 - Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Quincy Jones
1993 - Dizzy Gillespie and Witold Lutosławski
1992 - Sir Paul McCartney and the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania