Taunt Jesus, Eat a Mermaid, or Find the Holy Grail: The “Inconvenient” Glitches of an Anti-Aging Remedy
“The only thing wrong with immortality is that it tends to go on forever.” – Herb Caen
Youth. What is it? A noun? Verb? Adjective? What is its purpose? Benefits? Drawbacks? Characteristics? The world continually grasps onto a deeply held fascination of it. Whatever “it” is, however, is able to taunt us with its presence for a short amount of time (for the lucky few, a little longer), before eluding us like Virginia Woolf’s ever enigmatic Mrs. Brown. The same can be said for the word “young.” It is synonymous with “youth,” while at the same time meaning something completely unique. So when trying to come up with definitions for the words “youth” and “young,” I decided to consult my favorite Internet resource, Urban Dictionary. If any of you are not aware of this aforementioned time-sucking sinkhole, I suggest that you get on it. Stat. I find that it is an excellent representation of the downward spiral that language and social culture is voluntarily trapping itself in.
- Media code word for criminal non-white immigrants.
- A young boy or girl mostly around 13-18 years old.
- A person at the age of believing they are politically involved when they’re not.
Related Words: Young, kids, sex, slang, cool, beautiful, gay, fun, urban
- Urban slang that is short for young’un, which is short for young one.
- A word to put in front of any noun. This gives the original word more definition. Putting “young” in front of a noun makes it 10x better. Usually put in front of a work to describe how bad@$$ something is.
- As opposed to old.
- Someone new to the game.
Related Words: Hot, cool, funny, smart, cougar, teen, sexy
Okay, so Urban Dictionary may not be the best source for information, and at times the poor grammar and “hipness” of it makes my eyes bleed, but I included these definitions for a purpose. Or rather, I included the related words for a purpose. According to the protagonist of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Mr. Gray himself, “youth is the only thing worth having,” and when he no longer has that, he will kill himself (Wilde 40). A bit hasty perhaps, but when being a youth or being young is positively correlated with being beautiful, funny, smart, cool, and happy, who wouldn’t want to be eternally immortalized in people’s memories in that way? There is something to be said about remaining young forever. For one thing, purity and youth are believed to go hand-in-hand with each other. Such a connection is made in The Picture of Dorian Gray when Lord Harry Wotton states that “there was something in his face that made one trust him at once. All the candour of youth was there, as well as all youth’s passionate purity. One felt that he had kept himself unspotted from the world” (26). While aging and learning about the world cause one to become corrupt, youthfulness acts as a defense, or rather, as an excuse to remain completely ignorant about oneself and human nature. In Dorian’s case, his youth protects him from the threats of James Vane, the brother of Sybil Vane, the women he rejects when she becomes a mediocre actress. Just like the female heroine in Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Sybil is pushed away when it is discovered that she is no longer the idealized figure of a woman that Dorian has crafted her as in his mind.
Many societies and cultures have their own tales and myths about magical items or tasks that a person can complete in order that they may be granted the “gift” of eternal youth. While the Japanese believe that eating a mermaid-like creature called a ningyo—a cross between a monkey and a carp—will curse oneself with immortality, in Christian myth, taunting Jesus or finding the Holy Grail (cup that Jesus drank from during the Last Supper) produces the same effect (Van Duisen “10 Mythological Ways to Become Immortal”). All of which come with their own set of “minor inconveniences”, I might add. In Wilde’s novel, Dorian Gray’s eternal youth is assured when his good friend, Basil Hallward, paints a portrait of the young Adonis. Under the guiding thumb of Lord Harry Wotton, however, Dorian adopts the sentiments of this “devil’s advocate” (Wotton), and starts to dread the idea of his youth escaping, and when that inevitably happens, his beauty and advantage in the world going with it. At one point, Dorian declares that he is “jealous of everything whose beauty does not die” (Wilde 40). He is especially “jealous of the portrait [Basil has] painted of [him]” because he realizes that he will never be as young as he was when the portrait was being painted (40).
The worst advice given in this novel comes from Lord Harry Wotton when he states that in order “to get back one’s youth, one has merely to repeat one’s follies” (58). It can be assumed that Dorian had never made any major follies, until he met Wotton that is. For when Dorian begins to spend time with this man, his heart begins to darken as he uses people for his own pleasure. Yes, he does get eternal youth, but the drawback is that he makes a deal with the devil in order to obtain it. While his outer appearance does not change, the portrait does to reflect his inner self. To Dorian, the portrait would be “the most magical of mirrors. As it had revealed to him his own body, so it would reveal to him his own soul” (139). Unfortunately, the soul that Dorian sees through the portrait is an ugly soul, full of hate, crudity, and spite. The result is a dissent into complete misery until Dorian kills himself to make it all end.
So yeah, you can have eternal youth. But is it really worth all the inconvenience? I mean, I personally wouldn’t want to insult Jesus…
Van Duisen, Michael. “10 Mythological Ways to Become Immortal.” ListVerse.com. 18 September 2013. Web. 5 November 2015.
Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1908. Web.
“Young.” Urban Dictionary. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Young
“Youth.” Urban Dictionary. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=youths &utm_source =search-action