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the death of adulthood by povorot the death of adulthood by povorot
A conceptual illustration for class. I've been listening to/watching/reading a lot of Joseph Campbell lately, which lead to this illustration: the various myths and rituals that our culture(s) have had to demarcate between childhood and adulthood have gone the way of the dodo in our society, with the few cultural milestones of this transition being largely optional. What does it mean, then, to be an adult in a post-industrial society that seeks to keep you a mindless, consuming adolescent?

NOTE: I also recommend reading the awesome, insightful, and intelligent comments below - I'm very pleased with all the discussions this image started.
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idlefreetime Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2014
Just gorgeous. Any opportunity to purchase this as a print?
Morgethein Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2013
Well, the way I see it, even children experiencing what we would now call a 'childhood' is a new development.

I think, almost inevitably, (unless we suffer some unbelievably catastrophic event), eventually technology will progress to such a degree that machines will do much of, if not most of, our manual labor for us.

At this point, we may be even MORE childlike than we seem at this point.

But I ask, what's the problem with that? Is a man child so much more abhorrent than the men of the past? Is the prospect of becoming man children more frightening than staying the racist, genocidal, rapist, warmongering apes we've been in the past? I'll take Pee-wee Herman over Genghis Khan any day. I honestly don't look lovingly at the past. The past was more dynamic and interesting, sure, but it was also a more violent and brutal and human life was cheaper and shorter. If we all become na´ve Eloi types, I'd be happy with it. Because I sure as Hell don't want us to remain Morlocks.

Either way, this is the sign of great art, art that makes you think. Good job.
vegiboy3000 Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2013
Awesome piece by the way :)
vegiboy3000 Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2013
I think the traits and The Hero's Journey itself still exists in society today, just in mostly subtle hidden ways that most people have to look for and sometimes their personal journey doesn't have all of the steps that are included in Campbell's model. It really depends on what the person hopes to do with their life, like achieving a dream of some sort. Also it depends on what they do with that dream once they obtain it because some may misuse the power or gifts they have obtained or their dream was purely for power or celebrity but they masked it behind an honorable one. But there are a lot of people who have obtained their dream and have put it to good use. Like if you look at several well known people's biographies, they've all gone through struggles and challenges, triumphs and pitfalls, going from step to step. Like two examples that I can think of are Carol Burnett and Jessica Chastain because its taken years to get from where they started to where they are. Like Carol Burnett has obtained the tools and crafts of comedy and not only used them but shared the gift with everyone around her. With Jessica Chastain, its also taken her many years to get where she is and technically she's still on her journey but she's obtained the tools and crafts of acting in different kinds of film and is showing what she can do, not only entertaining the masses but in some cases educating them as well like just in the past few years, she's been in thrillers, horror, dramas, animation, war/political drama, historical dramas (even though The Help was fictitious) and even a Shakespearean tragedy. I know there are probably better examples but these were the two strongest examples that I could think of at the moment. It also doesn't just apply to being in the arts/famous either. It could be someone hoping to start their own business, getting to play on a sports team, forming a family, finding someone to love, being a writer, an artist, or filmmaker, or simply put just something you love doing and want to do for the rest of your life or meeting someone that you want to spend the rest of your life with. Its just that the media and corporations have forced the focus of being rich, successful, and famous, or buying their stuff as the only important things life and it has corrupted some, but for those who have a dream and want to accomplish that dream because it involves doing something that they love to do like a skill, job, etc. and they're willing to go through the journey no matter the difficulty or struggles that they'll have to face, even if they aren't so sure of themselves or the results they'll accomplish, then the journey will be an enlightening one, similar to the one Joseph Campbell structured, in that not only will they (usually) obtain the tools and craft needed to accomplish the dream but they will obtain the emotional growth that comes with it as well. For those that wrapped up in the fame, fortune, and the buying stuff and chasing after purely those things alone, then they'll either fail and fall into disappointment or they'll succeed but experience a sort of hollow victory/experience and possibly a kind of infamy as well. There are also some people who have failed to obtain their dream but even so the experience has some sort of positive effect that might not even take shape in that person's lifetime but a good portion of the time, that person will experience some sort of emotional growth from that experience. There's also the people who have failed and fallen to the way side but they need not give so easily because there might be another path to that dream or leave the door open to accomplish a different dream and all they have to do is pick themselves up and keep going.. After all, a lot of people have started with nothing but were able to end up with something/everything, if not a lot.

With the world modernized as it is, its easy to forget about how The Journey and life's experiences presence in our lives, especially with how The Hero's Journey has been dramatized in myths, legends, stories, and movies (which isn't a bad thing at all because I mean hey, who wouldn't want to experience becoming a king/queen, or being trained by Obi-Wan and Yoda with a lightsaber, or battling dragons, finding new worlds, etc.) We just have to look at our lives a little bit closer.

I myself think I'm in the process of a Hero's Journey in my life right now as well. I just don't where I am. I could be in the Belly of the Beast, accidentally refusing the Call, waiting for my Supernatural Aid or still in the process of hearing the call but in any case, I'm ready and willing to take on what's ahead.

(My apologies for the long post and if it was preachy/corny X o. Glad to put in my two cents though :))
Skull-the-Kid Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2012
Great piece, especially its theme and contents.
ashimbabbar Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2012
coming a bit late, just happened on this

I think it's a good thing we've done with rites of passage ( except within violent archaic subcultures such as gangs ) as it shows we're no more mere parts of a group: we're individuals.

The question is, are we ISOLATED individuals, weak and easy prey to whoever around is more powerful; or are we RESPONSIBLE individuals who can combine to defend their and mankind's interests ?

I think there are many things at present that force us no more to delay answering…
mmmmmike Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2011
nice illustration. did you have to write any papers for this?
ClockwerkMao Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2011
After reading and thinking more, a rite of passage is a way of demonstrating your belonging to a group that is different than an earlier group, and there are other ways to organize status and deference. Modern Americans use generational cohorts a lot, as did Shaka's Zulus; and we use simple demonstrations too, which is based only on individual performance. There's probably a whole spectrum based on the amount of interaction between the individual and the group, and it nests and recurses and does other fun things; and all societies everywhere use more than one of these systems to organize themselves.

In America at least then, being an adult largely means that your cohort can (and may be expected to) do certain things, like smoke or cosign for a loan. There's nothing you can do to lose that status, because it's an accident of your birth. Such a cohort system does tend to lend itself to highly centralized, purpose-driven systems: we're all raised to fill in the industrial ranks, and Shaka made the entire Zulu Nation an army.
lutz-kleinau Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2011
i love this - especially how it kicked off such an exciting and yet so civilized discussion that's become such a rare sight on the internet. :)

if i might put in my two cents.. i apologize in advance for taking so long to get to the point:

i feel that life and society are in limbo.
the internet has begun to effect every aspect of our lives. it is already linked to other world-encompassing systems like GPS.
and just like people give third parties the right to view their personal information because they want to play a game on facebook - they don't care if apple is tracking their iphone all around the globe – 24/7.
nowadays - even if you are a die-hard nature freak about to cross the tasmanian bush - that little navigation system providing safe orientation is far to tempting to be left at home.
it may not really matter yet, but it will become a big issue eventually.

in theory, with enough effort, everyone can access any information out there.
while my parents' generation (in large parts) has no idea of the scope of what is out there in the vast ocean.

and they have absolutely no understanding of what the experience of playing a video game is either. they are not aware of an entire family of media.
the generation of my potential children however will grow up with virtual experiences unlike anything that has ever existed before.

by then the internet will have evolved in ways that i (or maybe we for that matter) will not be able to comprehend - because we have been old enough for a while not to care anymore.

i'm sure telling your kids about the facts of life has never been an easy. but nowadays they might already know more than yourself.
when i'm looking at internet porn today, i feel bad. because i already feel sorry for the children growig up with it.
for the most part i'm sure what's on offer is aimed at men looking for the kind of sex they are imagining but not getting at home.
thus a lot of it is far far away from what people actually do who love each other.
so this material being so easily accessible many years before a human being is actually confronted with the real deal.

and it doesn't really matter if you can deal with this yourself growing up. it matters because it affects society as a whole - the vast majority of the people have a brain the size of a pea.

another big issue is that the world is getting more and more competitive. to survive - or in the first world: be happy, we are forced to stay within the educational system much longer than ever before. there is no place for a carpenter anymore these days - not if you're not highly specialized. our biological clock tells us to get out and learn to live on our own but instead we're forced to go to high school until we're of the age when a hundred years ago everybody already had children. then many of us go on to university where we have to study so much that we can't go to work so we have to ask our parents for money or get a loan which hardly makes you feel very grown up.
this might go on until we are in our late twenties or even out thirties before we are able to pay back our debts and finally - make money.
with no time to make up for our 'lost' youth 'afterwards' we try to be a child all the time, simultaneously, while we have to act like an adult.

in the wake of globalization all industrialized nations are becoming a huge melting pot of cultures, religions and beliefs – some of which are just not compatible at all, no matter how hard we try.
most basic values are the same throughout human kind, but we will have to go easy on religion if we all want to get along in the future.
without a strong belief in one’s religion one has no guideline when experiencing their loved ones dying for the first time – an essential part of growing up.

and without religion there is no proper ritual that makes us a man or a woman - as people said before me – no specific point in time from when on you and everybody else knows that you are no longer a child.

i'm not completely sure but maybe it all boils down to this: how are we supposed to know what ideals to try to live up to if cultures and even generations are occupying the same space but yet living in different worlds?
gsilverfish Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2011
Despite the contrast here, due to the coffee and aged features it's my assumption that this guy is on his way to work. He might not be embracing adulthood but I just see a guy keeping it together in our modern society. He's even rejected a car in favor of a green commuting solution!

We still do have a lot of age-related rituals--learning to drive, your first job (alternately, your first GOOD job), or even getting completely trashed on your 21st birthday (surely there's some relation with the native American "vision quest" here?) They're key steps to all sorts of potential paths toward responsibility, or a lack of it!
bensen-daniel Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2011
Interesting point.
My cultural guru,, tells me that we are adults when we stop being dependents and start being the people others depend on. ([link])

But yes, it seems like we're doing away with rites of passage. Here in Bulgaria, a staggering number of young couples (something like 50%) have children and live together indefinitely without getting married. In the US, the other big rite of passage, graduation, is being diluted into meaninglessness by endless repetition at the end of every grade.

But about adulthood, is it really so bad if people want to be children forever? Their endless consuming drives the economic and technological engines that keep us comfortable. And if the idiots remove themselves from the system, it means more room for the rest of us. :)
C-Gear Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2011
thoughtcrimeisdeath Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2011
Fantastic, always love your work. The content, the aesthetic, love it.
AmnioticOef Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2011
Personally, I'm glad that that culture of honor, status and revenge is gone.

Have you read " The Better Angels of our Nature by Steven Pinker? I'm partway through it, and so far it's put a lot of that "good old days" stuff in perspective.
bensen-daniel Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2011
I agree! I just finished Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and it was horribly depressing. One tit for tat killing followed by another until one side (guess which one) was all dead. The saddest part was the people in charge on both sides who _couldn't get their subordinates to stop killing each other_.

And that's just what my new book is about! :)
AmnioticOef Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2011
Exactly :) .
ClockwerkMao Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2011
I'd hesitate to say that the culture of honor, status and revenge is gone. There are still gangs and corporations and sports teams, not to mention educational institutions and religious institutions and internet message boards. The tokens of status shift from culture to culture, and I suspect their biological foundation is unshakeable.

Anyway, rites of passage seem to be the social equivalent of the Bar Exam; that is, a pretty critical pass/fail vetting procedure; and though the lethality aspect probably isn't necessary for modern versions, the requirement to pass at least one probably is.
AmnioticOef Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2011
But whatever remains of the old culture has been de-emphasized to the point that many people are free to have nothing to do with it if they choose.

Hmm, but what does a rite of passage do for you in concrete terms?
ClockwerkMao Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2011
How sure are we of that first point? We should probably figure out what we mean by "old culture" first, and we should then determine if disassociation with any particular old culture frees us of the mechanisms of status, honor and revenge. Low violence is as likely to be a result of increased oulets as it is the lack of prestigious violence.

In concrete terms, a rite of passage is demonstration of competence. Going on a solo hunt shows you can survive. Passing the driving test shows you can (allegedly) drive. I think that one vine-bungee-jumping thingy just shows you're lucky.
AmnioticOef Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2011
"we should then determine if disassociation with any particular old culture frees us of the mechanisms of status, honor and revenge"

Off the top of my head, our disassociation with old American aristocratic culture means that high class adults are no longer honor-bound to fight each other to the death over trivial insults.

The whole concept of honor is disappearing from are culture, and with it the associated violence and irrational behavior.

" increased outlets"

According to Steven Pinker, the "hydraulic theory" of violence as an urge that builds in pressure and must be released is false. In his view (supported by science) violence is a response to specific situations and features of the environment that can turn on and off.

"In concrete terms, a rite of passage is demonstration of competence."

Hmm, why a single global test of competence when lots of tests of specific skills are more useful both to the person and to society as a whole? If a person tests poorly for mammoth hunting and well for computer programming, then the person gets a job and society gets a competent programmer, rather than getting only a chicken-heart who can't hunt mammoths :D

Your driving test example suggests this compartmentalized test is the kind your thinking of. But isn't that stretching the definition of "rite of passage" a little bit? It's an honest question, I don't know.

Most of what I'm saying is coming from Pinker's book, so I'm obviously open to other opinions :) .
ClockwerkMao Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2011
Also, I moved my further thinking on rites to its own comment.
ClockwerkMao Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2011
So we don't duel; but surely that's not necessary for any sort of honor code. If there's no honor, then what good is it to attack a politician's private conduct (when it's not publicly hypocritical, obviously; Spitzer cracked down on prostitution, but Clinton didn't make a big deal about marital fidelity)? We can have honor without shackling it to violence.

Which: I didn't intend to mean any sort of "hydraulic theory"; but it is true that aggression can be incited by one party and inflicted on a different party; and what I meant is that we Modern Westerners probably have more non-violent aggression targets than most other cultures in history, between organized sports and video games (I might be stretching on the sports, but they're noticeably less lethal than war).
StrandedAlien Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2011
With the sports, I'd say that as an outlet, they seem to work for both the players and the spectators, though this is as an outsider looking in--I don't really have any interest in sports.
AmnioticOef Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2011
Look at me trying to be an intellectual and mis-using words :D . "honor is disappearing from are culture" should be "disappearing from our culture".
Parady Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2011
"People knew more about their world then than now . " :) They felt through their view and belief the place that fitted them in this vast universe but now it is so friggin lost... harboring confusion or ignorance... in a sens.
yoult Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2011  Professional General Artist
Very right. The contrast in the picture works very well.
Chimpeetah Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2011
America is such a great example of this. Childhood here means to ask for things or to be allowed to have possessions, adulthood means the ability to demand or deserve possessions. Look at some of the occupants of the Occupy Wall Street protests ... You'll see what I mean. I feel like a lot of people my age (19) cannot be classified as adults, yet they feel they are entitled to the title because many are on their own and think they deserve certain priveleges.
nemo-ramjet Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2011
Really neat illustration for a great point - it seems to me a well, that the younger generations are, well, "neotenic" compared to the people one, two generations before. This is especially more striking in Turkey - someone could have grandparents that were subsistence farmers - and lo - their grandchildren are hipsters or "salarimen."
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