I have spent some serious time trying to understand the roots of American psychological juvenalization-infantalization, because it “happened” during my lifetime, which is not that many years, and yet neotenic trends are driving contemporary behavior and failure.
“Neoteny” (I use neoteny here not scientifically, but as the tag for juvenile-infantile behavior in what ought to be proto or full adults) is a process that has been veiled by political upheaval from the 1960s until the present day; no one has talked seriously about the phenomenon until recently, but psychological childishness is rampant in our behavior and beliefs. Economically it’s a bonanza promoted by corporations and exploited by the market. Politicians pander to juvenile insecurity and need for attention.
My generation discovered that the “world” (having just been saved from Fascism by our parents) was still at war – the Cold War – about the time we popped out of baby-narcissism and into elementary consciousness at school. We were not spared reality by parents and teachers: our tender and innocent childhood years were spent waiting for the worst death imaginable to fall from the sky, without warning, giving us but a few minutes to cower under our school desks and imagine what was coming – incineration of everything we knew; parents, friends, our school and town, the United States, and perhaps most of the life on earth. Videos, posters and TV programs made annihilation both present and inevitable.
Despite the propaganda of American stability and supremacy, there really was nothing solid under our feet.
Existential anxiety? Long term effects? Denial would soon blossom into decades of sex, drugs and rock n roll.
Over the intervening years deep changes have occurred in the American mind. We live today in a scary state of incompetence with politicians vowing to resurrect “greatness.” That’s hard to do when a nation of 300 million people no longer comprehends what simple adult behavior requires: humility, sacrifice, personal integrity. What bizarre and forgotten qualities these Old-fashioned words represent.
At one point I began to think that perhaps Soviet agents had managed to put “dumb pills” in municipal water supplies, but now I think I have identified the true cause of diminished American mental abilities: A massive influx of neotenic toys and images from Japan during the 1960s.
BLAME IT ON THE JAPANESE.