Witness to the wobbling of the world

A great satisfaction in growing old—one of many—is assuming the role of a witness to the wobbling of the world and seeing irreversible changes. The downside, besides the tedium of listening to the delusions of the young, is hearing the same hackneyed opinions over and over, not just those of callow youth but, much worse and seemingly criminal, the opinions of even callower people who ought to know better, all the lies about war and fear and progress and the enemy-the world as a wheel of repetition. They—I should say "we"-are bored by things we’ve heard a million times before, books we’ve dismissed, the discoveries that are not new, the proposed solutions that will solve nothing. "I can tell that I am growing old," says the narrator in Borges’s story "The Congress." "One unmistakable sign is the fact that I find novelty neither interesting nor surprising, perhaps because I see nothing essentially new in it-it’s little more than timid variations on what’s already been. "

—Paul Theroux. Ghost train to the eastern star: on the tracks of the Great railway bazaar Hamish Hamilton, 2008, p. 4.