Thursday, 04 September 2014
James Hillman on Why We Age
It's not that I have kept count but by now, I have undoubtedly read hundreds of books about aging and while some are okay, the majority – vast majority – are a waste of time, telling us nothing that we don't already know on our own.
And then there are the few that are brilliant, thoughtful, meaningful and wise. Some of them are listed in that link over there in the right sidebar, Best Books on Aging, and among them is James Hillman's The Force of Character and the Lasting Life.
It's not Hillman's only book and maybe not his best. But I have been re-reading it and checking around the web to see what I could find on Hillman, who died in 2011 at age 85.
He was a Jungian psychologist with a deep, abiding and humane belief in each person's individuality and the importance of old age.
But in this book (and others), he doesn't so much tell us what to think or believe about growing old as open up possibilities – drawing on mythology, the Bible, philosophy, poetry, even rock-and-roll lyrics, among other sources – for us to consider.
The Force of Character and the Lasting Life was published in 1999, and on YouTube I found an interview with Hillman conducted at that time by the Canadian host of In Conversation with... Allan Gregg.
I don't know anything about Gregg except that, unlike many interviewers, he asks good questions and leaves the guest to answer without too much interruption.
So here is the 11-minute interview in which Hillman discusses cosmetic surgery, elder eroticism, physical deterioration (“no joke”), grandparents and, among other subjects, the purpose of aging.
If you are interested in more from Hillman, there are literally hundreds of video interviews with him posted at YouTube.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: Anti-Aging