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Juvenescence: A Cultural History of Our Age

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  60 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
How old are you?  The more thought you bring to bear on the question, the harder it is to answer.  For we age simultaneously in different ways: biologically, psychologically, socially. And we age within the larger framework of a culture, in the midst of a history that predates us and will outlast us. Looked at through that lens, many aspects of late modernity would suggest ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published November 21st 2014 by University of Chicago Press (first published November 4th 2014)
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Jim Coughenour
Once in a great while I stumble onto a new book by an author I'd forgotten, and discover his work all over again. Twenty years ago I got lost in Robert Pogue Harrison's Forests. In the next decade I brought home The Body of Beatrice and The Dominion of the Dead, read a chapter or two and buried them in the back of the book closet. A few days ago I came across Juvenescence and it has transformed my week, in part because it led me as well to Harrison's podcast Entitled Opinions which I have been e ...more
John Pistelli
Valor consists in the power of self-recovery, so that a man cannot have his flank turned, cannot be out-generalled, but put him where you will, he stands. This can only be by his preferring truth to his past apprehension of truth, and his alert acceptance of it from whatever quarter; the intrepid conviction that his laws, his relations to society, his Christianity, his world, may at any time be superseded and decease.
—Emerson, “Circles” (1841)

I’m filled with the sadness that afflicted the Roman
Jana Light
Jan 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
What a delightfully odd and engaging book this is! Although I can't quite categorize what Harrison is doing here (historical philosophy? psychology? sociology?), his overall point seems to be that Western developmen is deeply neotenic: old but with distinct characteristics of the young, a product of fresh insight that rejuvenates, rather than annihilates, the legacy of the past. Sounds rather obvious, right? That's part of the allure of this book -- Harrison states familar or self-evident concep ...more
Stephen Hicks
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Harrison’s “Juvenescence” has been a wonderful book to read and think through. While I don’t necessarily agree with every point he makes, there is an enormous wealth of fuel here to keep The Inner Fire burning bright.

The concept of neoteny and its role in the propagation of culture and society from generation to generation is a novel idea riddle with the wisdom of the past. The chapter “Amor Mundi” allowed Harrison to show off his most beautiful humanistic feathers and reframed the motivations
Samuel Brown
Apr 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wise and insightful, this book will bear multiple readings. Where Charles Taylor comes at these questions of what makes our contemporary society so strange and perhaps so lost from the perspective of philosophy and theology, Harrison--my favorite living literary critic--comes at the question from the perspective of our "ages." Like a good poem, this book is allusive and sometimes a little exasperating, functioning mostly to point out areas for further thought or to reframe debates and discussion ...more
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Some interesting concepts, but it seems the author is more intent on trying to impress us with an array of disparate historical and cultural references than he is with presenting us with a concise, persuasive proof of concept of juvenescence.
David Huff
May 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Ever have that moment when you discover a book is much deeper, and far different, that what you originally might have thought? Such was my pleasurable experience with Robert Pogue Harrison's thoughtful writing. He makes a compelling case for "cultural maturity", which in our age of technological advance requires maintaining our connections with the wisdom of the past. He speaks of balancing "genius"- the forward looking drive to invent, discover and create, with "wisdom" -- our endowment from th ...more
Alanood Burhaima
Feb 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
"If education has a goal, it is to increase the age of young people exponentially-- to make them hundreds, if not thousands, of years older than they were when they entered the classroom or sat down with their students' lamp to enlarge their mind. For it is through books, or other forms of writing, that a culture transmits the inner core of its historical age"

I have been listening to Robert's radio show for quite some time now and I can't help but imagine his voice as I read this. Great book.
Jan 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I read this aloud from the armchair in the bedroom, to my beloved consort, over the course of several wintry weekends. Reading in this way made it impossible to scrutinize the text closely, so I really can’t say whether it is utterly persuasive. It was, however, certainly an enjoyable book to read—and as I am generally sympathetic to the author’s (entitled) opinions, it was convincing enough for me.
Robert W Edwards
Simply profound and profoundly simple

A meaningful, moving synthesis of human life as experienced individually and culturally. A highly intelligent book that yet is easy to read and, amazingly, hard to put down. I intend to purchase a hardcover copy to read again, allowing me to mark important, provocative passages. "Juvenescence" has been great for my senescence. A must read for anyone with serious questions about our contemporary time and culture.
Win Dunwell
Nov 11, 2014 marked it as to-read
Striking initial impression - same size book as previous but half the words with larger font and different format. But it's all about content which considering the author I expect intelligent excellence.
Sam Koenen
Jun 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
There are phenomenal parts (5 stars), and some truly horrendous parts (1 star), but overall it is a solid and enlightening cultural theory with profound implications for classical teachers.
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Mar 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 05_culture
It's more like a 3.5 to me.
In short, I don't quite enjoy the style of the writing (nostalgia tone), but the points and perspective the author brings out are very interesting, especially the discourse of the part about neoteny.
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