Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner


Originally posted on February 16, 2011

Thinking of Christopher Noxon’s book, “Re-Juvenile,” (New York: Crown Publishing, 2006),  generally I enjoyed it. I think the author speaks to the hunger for a re-integration of the best elements of child-like-ness, as I talked about in my book, The Art of Play, now being revised. However, the language is problematical. I described the value of differentiating between the child-like and the child-ish in the 3rd 1997 edition, but I’ve changed my mind. Let’s get the subtle age-ism out of it!

My latest thinking is that the whole business of associating many of these qualities with youth, childhood, etc., is misleading. We’re talking about qualities of vitality, some of which were stifled in the industrial era. We learned to walk at 10-12 months, to talk at 1 – 3 years, yet dancing and drama and recitation of political speeches or poetry are not considered childish or infantile. In the same sense, let’s not think of what I used to call “child-like-ness” as particularly associated with childhood. Let’s call it instead, “vitality,” and recognize that many qualities can be developed, matured, refined, and more complex and balanced forms of expression cultivated throughout life! I’m especially referring to qualities such as spontaneity, imaginativeness, exuberance, bodily fluidity, exploration, curiosity, playfulness, interpersonal vulnerability and sensitivity, etc. Of course in their early forms they can be foolish, but we need to recognize that there are more mature forms for all of these qualities.

Part of the challenge is with these and other qualities, to distill away the residues of childishness, which includes lack of insight, discrimination, self-modulation, awareness of when and where to engage a vital impulse, entitlement, self-centered-ness, selfishness, greed, etc. All these can be matured away from without the loss of the elements of vitality.

“Young at Heart” is another phrase I have come to resist as age-ist. I’m not offended—I love the song!—but I want to help my age-mates feel that the idea of being young—when so many parts of the body are wearing thin if not out—need not be a foolish illusion. The game is reframed again by just talking about vitality, which is more an attitude of mind. You can theoretically enjoy it even if you’re getting a bit senile, because it involves a cultivation of a mixture of love, faith, innocence, and openness that isn’t a bad not to go out on.  I’ll probably write about this general theme more as time continues to throw challenges in my path during my eighth decade on this planet.

3 Responses to “Re-Juvenile”

  • Priscilla says:

    Of course, I’m attracted to the act of commenting on this, as this book has recently been at the top of my writing tools list.

    I think you’re on the mark about the question of vitality versus the language Noxon uses. I’ve begun to question if the end goal of the rejuvenile isn’t to find meaning in life by using the toys of childhood play, but rather to rejuvenate meaning in life period–which would be the vitality you mention. Joseph Campbell has a wonderful anecdote about a man who, in mid-life, finds himself longing for something. He remembers that he really loved fishing as a boy, so he takes up fishing. He’s happy, but not happy enough. The act of fishing brings the comforting feeling of nostalgia. But that’s not what the man actually wants. What he wants are mermaids.

  • […] My friend, Adam, recently made a post on his blog about Christopher Noxon’s book, Rejuvenile. A worthy book for anyone interested in adult play to read. […]

  • […] Part of the significance for me is that this book represents yet another cross-disciplinary field! I love this venturing into all sorts of arenas, and what I especially like about this book is that the field is as much psychology and social psychology as it is anything. Discovering new ventures and emerging fields gives me hope and helps me feel vital (or “young at heart”). […]

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