After our return from our trip to Paris, I decided to pick up a few of Hemingway’s books to read. We spent a lot of our time in the Latin Quarter, and I even got a picture of the plaque on Hemingway’s old apartment, so I thought it would be of interest to read some of what he wrote there. I have started with A Moveable Feast, which are the Memoirs from his time staying in that section with all the other famous writers of that era. and the second chapter in that book is his conversation with Gertrude Stein where she coins that phrase:
"That’s what you are. That’s what you all are," Miss Stein said. "All of you young people who served in the war. You are a lost generation."
She was referring to not just Hemingway, but all the young of that time disillusioned by WWI, who drank and disappeared for years after the war, echoing the end of that war in their rebellion and fear. And a lot of drinking. With reading that passage, I wondered if it wasn’t just appropriate for that time, but a phenomenon that we see over and over after wars and conflict impact our society. The beatniks of the early fifties echoing WWII? The drug and sex culture of the seventies echoing Vietnam? If this is a pattern that repeats, then who’s generation will be the lost one this time?
Did we see a echo of this after the Cold War, and years of tension and fear of nuclear annihilation? Will the Iraq War and "War on Terror" need to end before we see the next group of disillusioned youth start on their counter-culture bend? Or have we entered a time of conflict without end, where we may see a constant backlash against the stress of these wars and conflicts.
Might that be what the naming of "Generation X" was about? Were we supposed to be it? Did we not rise to create a significant enough counterculture to prevent the conflicts that we are in now, or has the shrinking world simply compressed the time schedule. My daughter has never known a time that we have not been at war, what impact will that have?
I will keep reading for more clues. I would really love to know.