Fluorescent Adolescent and Allegory of Vanity

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Gregor Erhart, Allegory of Vanity, c.1500






"Where did you go? Woah."

Age does seem to hurt some more than others. Gregor Erhart's Allegory of Vanity embodies the omnipresent fear of death apparent throughout the Northern Renaissance. The old woman's overall sagginess and wrinkles deeply contrast the beauty of the youth beside her, inflicting a stark fear of aging, or at the very least a small gag. Similarly, the Arctic Monkeys set up young and old in a sexual manner, "You use to only get it in your fishnets, now you only get it in your night dress."

The natural act of growing old leaves a bad impression, hence the seemingly unattractive face of the old lass above. However, it isn't the ugliness of old age that leaves a bitter taste, but the loss of physical beauty, after all, "Nothing seems as pretty as the past." The reluctance of the older woman in "Fluorescent Adolescent" derives from the loss of dreams, when she realizes past dreams were "not as daft as they seem when she dreamed them up." What does she do once the dreams that once drove her no longer can? Making new dreams is a step everyone takes, however the unknown of it all still strikes fear. For the woman in "Fluorescent Adolescent", the unknown takes form of the obvious sexual change from fishnets to night dresses, territory she had yet to explore. As for the woman in Allegory of Vanity, a sexual component may be prevalent. Her contrasting deep wrinkles, though, foreshadow her upcoming death.

Although not quite in the fishnet or sagginess stage, I too have glorified the past. If we are consumed by the nostalgia, much can go unappreciated in the present. It is necessary to understand that the wrinkly woman is not just the decaying body, but also the smooth woman beside her. Just because the dreams and physical appearance of a may person change, the experience does not. Although you can imagine, never again can you experience the joy of the split-moment you stacked one triangle block onto a large rectangle block as a toddler. But you can revel in those present joys.

Nonetheless, whether you switch from fishnets to a night dress, or you acquire wrinkles the size of the Grand Canyon, acceptance is necessary for "You're not coming back again."


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