Reflecting on my past and piecing together the path that I have chosen I find myself wondering, how different I am now, middle aged, to the 18 year old males today. Are they really all that scary or do they share the same hopes and desires that I did all those years ago. I wonder if they have a moral compass or are they merely meandering through their days with a radar device to serve only one purpose; avoid getting hurt.
The conclusion that I arrive at is simple, they are the same as I was all those years ago, with their angst, passion, ambition and lust for life. And they too will journey through their lives looking out into the world to find themselves, making all kinds of discoveries. Only to eventually turn back to themselves and come home.
If there is one thing that I would say to them at this moment it would be…
“My Father showed me the meaning of life, if you want to know what it is… read on”.
Not another Faustian Age!
‘Wake Me Up’, Avicci
‘I want it all, and I want it now!’ Queen
Ah, Goethe’s ‘Faust’. This would, no doubt, be one of the greatest literary pieces in history. Goethe took sixty years to write ‘Faust’, starting in 1770 and died one year after it was published in 1831. It has been the centerpiece for many philosophical studies, movies, musical scores and novels. It is fantastic as it not only shows the development of a man but also the development of a society. It parallels Goethe’s reaction to the changes in society that are going on around him as he slowly develops Faust’s character. Ultimately Goethe’s character ‘Faust’ is a study of man from youth to death. There have been many different analytical interpretations, of which have merits. But the beauty of the book is that it is a living masterpiece, open to interpretations that change as society changes.
The novel is set in the turn of the 18th to the 19th century. It deals with the powerful upheaval of the world during the time of the industrial revolution. Boring! What’s this got to do with 18 year old males today I hear you ask? Well the parallels between the Industrial Revolution and today’s Technological Revolution are uncanny. It’s full of sex, and power, a real lust for life, no hole’s barred, ‘YOLO’ mentality. Today, I can see a generation of Faustian young men and who would blame them. Certainly not me.
Marshall Berman examines Goethe’s Faust in his book “All That Is Solid Melts into Air”. He explains that the novel is separated into three stages in the development of man; the dreamer, the lover and the developer.
…Picture this, you are in your bedroom, dreaming about the future; what you want to be (Yes I said what rather than who for a reason, but I’ll get to that much later). Your dreams are big, yes real big. When I ask teenage boys what they want to be when they are older (after their initial response ‘a porn star’) they inevitably say they want to be rich and famous, make a lot of money so they can get everything they want. Even though Faust is middle aged and extremely learned; a doctor, philosopher etc. he is a very successful man, somehow, all this study has made him feel isolated from the outside world. He feels; well he doesn’t feel. That’s the problem. He wants to experience everything that ‘common’ people feel and go through. A bit like boys doing their final exams. They struggle to stay on task during their study, they’re over school and the study routine and they want to get out there and ‘feel’. They want to experience life.
…Faust’s’ dreams are big. He wants to experience everything, the good, the bad and the downright ugly.
He feels that he has so much not only to experience but (thanks to years and years of self-sacrifice and study) to give to the world to make it a better place. His dreams are colossal, more than most men dare to dream. But how can they be achieved? He needs help in order to achieve his desires.
So he evokes the powers of the underworld, he calls out to Mephistopheles, and Mephistopheles answers.
Thus begins Faust’s relationship with the Devil.