I'm guessing that for the young educated adults of the 60s and 70s,
for whom the ultimate horror was the hypocritical conformity and
repression of their own parents' generation, Mr. Updike's evocation of
the libidinous self appeared redemptive and even heroic. But the young
educated adults of the 90s -- who were, of course, the children of the
same impassioned infidelities and divorces Mr. Updike wrote about so
beautifully -- got to watch all this brave new individualism and
self-expression and sexual freedom deteriorate into the joyless and
anomic self-indulgence of the Me Generation. Today's sub-40s have
different horrors, prominent among which are anomie and solipsism and a peculiarly American loneliness: the prospect of dying without once
having loved something more than yourself.
"The sixties: hippies, drugs, revolution, rock-and-roll...
But there was, I contend, a current that ran through the culture of the nineties, a theme that has not to my knowledge been recognized as such. That theme is the heroic dad."
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