Saturday, December 6, 2014

Murray Howard Dawson ... and me

I never knew Murray Dawson and he never knew me.

He died July 24 2004, about 4 months before I began to get interested in his father's (Dr Martin Henry Dawson) amazing career.

But despite Murray being almost ten years older than me (he born September 23 1941, me on September 20 1951) I feel a kinship with him that I can never share with his surviving brother and sister , who I do know a little.

This is because Murray and I are of the post-Modernity generation, people who never knew a time before mass destruction nuclear bombs delivered by good-enough inaccuracy by jet bombers and continent spanning rockets, before Auschwitz, and before natural antibiotics like penicillin.

But the point I wish to make is that while we both might have been born in the first post-modernity generation, we also grew up at a time when all the powerful people - all the adults - had spent their formative years inside the peak years of Modernity and thus had never known it when it was on its way in or on its way out.

They were pure 100% undiluted Modernity and they were teaching us , directing us, controlling us.

Today the powerful (who I take as those in positions of authority and influence and roughly between the ages of 38 and 75), are themselves fully post-Modern, never knowing anything else.

So Murray and I were raised in a transitional era - Modernity very very slowly ebbing out , post-Modernity very very slowly seeping in.

I mean that if you believe (as I do and so do many others) that the culture around you when you are 15 & 16 is the most important influence on your entire life , then recall that I was 15 and 16 in 1966-68*, the years that most experts see as the moment when popular post-modernity first broke through and modernity first nosedived.

You can't get any more transitional than that ....


* My theory as to just why those particular years broke the back of Modernity is that these are the years that the last of the people who were 15/16 before all of WWI's disasters retired from positions of power.

I can remember the situation at my own high school as the new replacements for elderly teachers seemed almost to skip a generation - near-seventy year olds replaced by those in their early thirties.

People who were 16 before the Somme and 1916 replaced by people who were 16 at the time Elvis and the CND hit.

This was partly because changes to public pensions at that time, making them available at age 65 instead of 70 , made retiring at 65 near universal in that period.

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