Welcome to the Old is Gold issue. Pierce Brosnan, still only 64, harnesses his life experience for social and environmental justice, and to give back to the world.
Robert Redford, who played the journalist Bob Woodward (who with Carl Bernstein exposed US president Richard Nixon’s hand in the Watergate scandal) is another winning veteran fighting tawdry politics in his country.
Providing context is cosmologist and astrophysicist Martin Rees. (“Success in life is very poorly correlated with a person’s ability or merit. That is one of the strongest arguments for reducing inequalities.”) Then Aston Martin designer Ian Callum talks about his shape of things to come.
Yes, they’re all white, and all men, so this season, please revisit our exclusive interview with the Tunku here (our best-read story) for insight into the spirit of public service that built Malaysia. That flame may yet be rekindled by nonagenarians whose images we must now cut out along a dotted line.
If you’d like a take on the generation gap, cult of youth, millennialism, influencer or whatever it’s going to be called next, this editor’s note might have some accidentally interesting predictions.
Speaking of which, here, for what it’s worth, is the editor’s note from the Summer 2018 issue, written in early April under duress and now lightly edited and less discombobulated. If old people are awesomely making a comeback, then note when the books below were first published.
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APPETITE FOR DISTRACTION
Will it be known as The Other Great Flood? Everything washed away, all the time, like flashing your phone's memory, but everything permanently recorded, to be used against you in this lifetime or your next, like karma, by Facebook, your government(s) and the new breed of global mercenaries like Cambridge Analytica.
The best that can be said for this moment when the T-Rexes of Silicon Valley still walk the earth is wabi sabi, the untranslatable Japanese for (I think) decay as beauty; always passing and torrential, like the death by a thousand cutting opinions of social media.
To explain, I (again) quote the sage messenger, Neil Postman, whom the politically correct commentariat now acknowledge as having predicted that The Donald would be the acme of culture. In the foreword to Amusing Ourselves to Death, first published in 1985, Postman compares George Orwell’s 1984 (published 1948) and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1936). The emphases are mine.
"But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell's dark vision, there was another – slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley's vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.
"What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions."
If Postman were alive today, he could write about the Valley Dinosaurs' big bite of journalism, the message devoured by the medium (with relish), and the damage to our very cognitive faculties; the problem with fake news isn’t fake news, but that there’s one born every time we swipe up on our screens.
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It’s been an excellent adventure editing Esquire Malaysia at the frontline of digital trenches. I've thrown everything and the kitchen sink into it and been privileged to meet some lovely human beings doing the same.
Salam hormat dan salam perjuangan.
-- Jason Tan, Editor in Chief
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