Youthful folly: Madonna

Madonna
MDNA
(Interscope)

It is better than the alternative, but aging is nevertheless probably the hardest burden we will all have to bear. That we have literally billions of examples of how to do it is really no help: you might get a sympathetic smile (or a menacing glare) from those older than you when it starts to sink in, but that’s about all they can offer when your body starts to decay, your memories start to outpace your experiences and, perhaps worst of all, your options narrow into a singularity, all of the potential and hope of youth strained through choices and regrets until the residue that is your life settles onto the bottom for all to see.

We talk a lot about youthful folly, but that seems to me the biggest: the absolutely blissful unawareness that the choice, the potential you have, will rapidly disappear. There will always be people that claim you can adjust yourself mid-stream, and even a few that do, but certain choices will forever be closed off — no one is ever going to buy a jersey with my name on it, for instance — and anyway, realistically, the inertia of life isn’t so easily held back.

The flip side — aging gracefully, as it’s known — is that you at least earn some wisdom, if not necessarily about the wider world, than at least about you. It is both terrifying and reassuring to slowly discover, but of course you end up becoming yourself, and though that might not be the sort of person who gallivants through Paris on summer Tuesdays, there are certain groups who would argue that knowing thyself is the closest we get to a purpose in life.

For everyone else, there is MDNA.

Read the full review here.

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