“Childhood-Blindness”

Children remain the children of their parents even if, from the point of view of their development, children stay children only for a very brief part of their existence. For by far the greater part of this existence children are grown-up men and women. But whoever decides to have children will necessarily initially experience these children in their not-yet-adult form. This “childhood-blindness” tends to block our vision of that existence as men and women in states of maturity or senility that our own children may one day lead: existences that may give rise, for example, to such a scenario as the following: a still-robust 80-year-old mother who pushes about in a wheelchair her already decrepit 60-year-old son. 

The author Thomas Bernhard speaks very decidedly, then, in the spirit of antinatalism when he evokes this problematic in the following terms: “Because people are wrong to believe that they are ‘bringing children into the world’. To say so is such a cheap misrepresentation of the real facts. What they bear, when they give birth, are grown-ups, not children. They bear, in reality, a disgusting, sweaty pub landlord with a pendulous belly or a mass murderer. People say that they’re ‘having a baby’ but in fact what they’re ‘having’ is an eighty-year-old man whose bodily fluids are leaking in every direction, who stinks and is blind and limps and can barely move from gout; it’s him, not ‘ a baby’, that they are bringing into the world. But this gouty old man is precisely what they do not see, so that Nature can continue to have its way and all this mess can go on and on.” (Andre Müller, Interview with Thomas Bernhard 1979, see: http://www.a-e-m-gmbh.com/andremuller/thomas%20bernhard%201979.html, viewed on 26 June 2015)

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