Saturday, December 31, 2016

Coincidental Reading: the New Year

This morning a quotation from Metternich caught my eye:
I detest every New Year. I am so inclined to prefer what I know to what I must learn, that my preference extends even to the four numbers that I am accustomed to write.
(Letter to the Duchess of Lieven, quoted in Friedell's Kulturgeschichte der Neuzeit.)

My father was subject to a mild melancholy on New Year's Eves at the thought of another year past. No doubt he dated a few checks with the wrong year, as I have done; but I don't think that the burden of learning a new number had anything to do with his mood.


  1. I'm with your father. Re the date, I tend to start dating ahead in about mid-November, to get used to it I suppose. This can get out of hand though: I do kick myself for spending the last two years of my fifties convinced I was already sixty. It must be how my mind works i.e. not very well.

  2. A woman I worked with long ago was happy to turn 29; she could now say that she was 30. I wonder whether this had to do with her Chinese descent, a heritage that respects age. As for myself, the leading figure doesn't seem to make that much difference: it seems to me that sixty-one feels much the way that fifty-nine felt.

  3. I'm with zmkc--I always used to add a year to my age to get used to the next one. And once I added two years for a while....

    When I was in Cambodia, I found everyone wanted to know my age so as to figure out how much respect I was due. The big number always shocked people, too, I suppose because a softer life leads to less visible aging. I seemed to be due a great deal of respect, as almost everyone I met was much younger than I was....

    1. I envy the shock you caused. I have never been taken for anything but the age I am - in fact these days I may well present as more aged than I actually am. Ah well, as long as it is assumed that wisdom partners age, I don't mind too much.

  4. George - I too was thrilled by 29,30, as I was no longer young enough to be patronised. Up to 43 - or maybe even 53, I wasn't bothered But then I really could not kid myself any longer that I was youthful in any way at all. Immature, possibly. That problem may never be cured (any double meaning gratefully accepted regarding the word "cured", although not intended)