“The oldest people can see things that are hidden to the rest of us”

by Jenny Friedrich-Freksa

Finally! (Issue I/2020)

-

Photographer: Max Lautenschläger


The French actor and chanson singer Maurice Chevalier once coined the phrase: “old age isn’t so bad, when you think of the alternative”. Chevalier would have turned 131 this year, and, with a glance at recent research, in the near future some one of that age could soon be still among the living. 

But, according to the Spanish cell biologist Ana María Cuervo, that is not as tempting as it sounds: “Everything has a best-before date,” she says. Together with her colleagues at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York she is looking at ways of altering the ageing process: “You might die but you don’t have this fifteen, twenty years of gradual deterioration”.

In this issue we take a look at the last chapter of human lives, a look at ageing. The West idealises productivity and physical fitness in our latter years and is quick to shun people who don’t fulfil this ideal. In Asia, by contrast, ageing is connected with wisdom and life experience – and is linked with the belief that the oldest people can see things that are hidden to the rest of us.

We take a look at ageing across a range of different cultures, biographies, medicinal developments and the explore the coexistence of grandparents, parents and children. “I dance in the afternoons,” said the 101-year-old yoga teacher Tao Porchon-Lynch in an interview, “I don't feel any different now that I've turned 101”.



similar articles

Finally! (Books)

“I went into hiding in Hong Kong”

an interview with Lam Wing-kee

The bookseller was imprisoned in China for selling political books. A conversation.

more


Finally! (Topic: Ageing)

“Accustomed to holding power”

an interview with Pankaj Mishra

Some sit in the boss's chair, others in a retirement home: A conversation about the baby boomer generation.

more


Endlich! (Topic: Ageing)

Talking about dying

by Julia Engman

How do people prepare for their death? A hospice nurse tells all.

more


Finally! (I think that...)

... the state should tighten regulations on big tech

commented by Toby Walsh

Why we should urgently discuss regulating Big Tech companies, a professor for artificial intelligence explains

more


Finally! (Topic: Ageing)

“Always in a black suit”

by Tino Hanekamp

Sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll: While rock stars struggle to exude youthfulness throughout their lives, Nick Cave’s career is a lesson in ageing with dignity.

more


Finally!

The Centenarians of Ikaria

pictures by Andrea Frazzetta

How people age is determined by their genes and by their living conditions. Andrea Frazzetta has photographed centenarians on the Greek island of Ikaria, where a surprisingly large number of people grow very old.

more