A few weeks ago, I heard a radio personality discuss advertising, public relations, and demographics. Without descending into a long history of cigarette marketing dating back to Bernays, I’ll summarize in five words:
After 50, you’re demographically dead.
What a relief! No one cares about me, my opinions, or my money. Amen to that.
(Caveat: Down East magazine continues to fill their pages with ads for “premier retirement living.”)
There is a certain liberty about being demographically dead. I can blog on obscure topics and not worry if I’ll acquire more followers. I don’t have to have a social media presence. Instagram? It doesn’t matter. Twitter? Not necessary. I’m already dead. I am free to rattle around my old house in black yoga pants day after day, like a 21st century Miss Havisham.
With today’s dour theme and Dickensian hat tip to Havisham, I’m pleased to be reading Dombey and Son. In December, a “Brief” in the Sun Journal piqued my curiosity. Pasted at the end of an announcement of an ectoplasm workshop at the Spiritualist Church and a meeting of the United New Auburn Association was this:
“The Pickwick Club, Maine’s Charles Dickens and other Victorians reading and discussion group, will meet from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, February 24 at the Auburn Library. The group will discuss the second half of Dickens’ Dombey and Son. Moderators will be Lincoln Ladd and Alexis DesRoches.”
I’ll be honest. My interest in Victorian authors is lukewarm. I studied them briefly in college and was turned off to the topic by a professor who inserted her own particular agenda into every novel, from Tom Jones to Adam Bede to Cranford. Her lectures, to quote Dickens, “had a Gorgon-like intent to stare…youth and beauty into stone.”
Uninterested, I turned to stone. I was young and alive then, I wanted to think critically about writing as writing, not as a motive force to propel a belief system. The professor’s teaching style repelled me and it wasn’t until much later in life I again picked up a Victorian novel.
And so I read on, little by little, chipping away at the novel.
And what of the Patriocalypse? Given that I’m demographically dead, I’m still fond of Bill Belichick. After all, at 66 years old, the greatest coach of all time is dead like me. He’s not tweeting or posting to Instagram, defending himself and seeking alliances. Supposedly, he’s read all the Harry Potter books and is known to quote Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. But who really knows. He may be reading Dombey and Son right now.