Thursday, July 19, 2012

Counting

One of the classic works in Irish to come out of the Blasket, and the first to be translated into English, is Maurice O'Sullivan's Twenty Years A-Growing," which recounts the author's childhood on the island and his eventual departure as a young man. The title comes from an island proverb:
Twenty years a-growing,
Twenty years a-blossoming,
Twenty years a-fading,
Twenty years a-withering.
If I'm to fit the pattern, I have four more years of withering.

It was commonly said among the Blasket islanders that the world changes every twenty years. What about my lifetime?

1936-1956: war. 1956-1976: cultural revolution. 1976-1996: affluence. 1996-2016: information technology.

And what about science?

1936-1956: nuclear fission and fusion. 1956-1976: DNA and plate tectonics. 1976-1996: computers. 1996-2016: molecular biology and genomics.

What about 2016-2036? The brain.