| February 21, 2017


Podcast #280: Why Growing Up Is a Subversive Act

Looking around, there seems to be a dearth of grown-ups in our culture. We put a premium on seeming cool and hip and will spend inordinate amounts of money to retain our youthful looks. Meanwhile, being known as “mature” has become something to avoid entirely, as it signifies you’ve become a boring, stogy old coot. As a result, we’ve got a lot of folks in our society who are adults by merit of their chronological age, but don’t appear or act as such.

But what if growing up doesn’t mean you have to be boring and lame? What if becoming a grown-up is actually a really rebellious act?

That’s the argument my guest today makes in her latest book. Her name is Susan Neiman and she’s the author of Why Grow Up? Subversive Thoughts for an Infantile Age. Today on the show, Susan and I discuss why becoming a grown-up has gotten a bad rap, how our culture — including smartphones — infantilizes us, and what the Enlightenment thinkers Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Emanuel Kant can teach us about how to become a grown-up. Susan then goes on to share ideas on what you can do to feel more like an autonomous adult and why embracing that role is such a subversive thing to do.

Show Highlights

  • Why “grown ups” get such a bad rap, and how culture makes growing up seem depressing
  • Are one’s young adult years the happiest and best time of their life?
  • How society infantilizes us
  • How traveling can help you grow up
  • The trivial questions and choices that drain our mental energies, and the questions we should be focusing on instead
  • The common idea of what it means to grow up
  • What growing up actually means
  • Why becoming an adult is a problem of the Enlightenment
  • How Kant and Rousseau influenced the ideas of adulthood
  • Parenting tips from the Enlightenment novel Emile that will lead to a flourishing adulthood
  • Some brass tacks tips for what you can do to become a grown up
  • Why you need to re-examine what it means to be an adult
  • Why should people grow up? What do they stand to benefit?

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

Why Grow Up? is a fun and enlightening read. If you’re tired of the cultural messaging that growing up means becoming dull and boring, you’re going to love the subversive thoughts of Susan Neiman. You’ll actually be excited to become a mature, autonomous adult after you’re done reading it.

Listen to the Podcast! (And don’t forget to leave us a review!)






Listen to the episode on a separate page.

Download this episode.

Subscribe to the podcast in the media player of your choice.

Podcast Sponsors

PodSurvey. Avid listener of the podcast? Take a survey that would really help us match advertisers to our audience. Take it at podsurvey.com/artofman, and enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card.

Uber. Become a driver to earn extra cash whenever you need it. Sign up to drive at www.uber.com/drivenow.

JackThreads. Try anything on at home for free, and only pay for what you keep. Go to JackThreads.com and enter the code “Manliness” to get 20% off anything you keep from your first order.

And thanks to Creative Audio Lab in Tulsa, OK for editing our podcast!

Recorded on ClearCast.io.

Read the Transcript

Brett McKay: Welcome to another edition of the Art of Manliness Podcast. While looking around there seems to be a dearth of grownups in our culture. We put a premium on seeming cool and hip and we’ll spend crazy amounts of money to retain our youthful looks. Meanwhile, being known as mature has become something to avoid entirely as it signifies becoming a boring, stodgy old coot. As a result we’ve got a lot of adults in our society who are adults by merit of their chronological age, but don’t appear or act like grownups. What if growing up doesn’t mean you have to be boring and lame? What if growing up is actually a really rebellious act? That’s the argument my guest today makes in her latest book. Her name is Susan Neiman. She’s the author of “Why Grow Up?: Subversive Thoughts for an Infantile Age”.

Today on the show Susan and I discuss why becoming a grownup has gotten a bad rep, how our culture including smartphones infantilizes us and what the enlightenment thinker Jean Jacques Rousseau and Immanuel Kant can teach us about how to become a grownup. Susan then goes on to share ideas of what you can do to feel more like an autonomous adult and why embracing that role is such a subversive thing to do. Really interesting podcast. After the show is over, check out the show notes at aom.is/whygrowup where you find links to resources, where you can delve deeper into this topic.

Susan Neiman, welcome to the show.

Susan Neiman: I’m glad to be here.

Brett McKay: You wrote a book that I loved. It was really interesting. It’s a topic that I’ve thought a lot about too. It’s called Why Grow Up, where you make the case of why people should grow up where you look to enlightened philosophers like Rousseau and Kant to make that case. Before we get into those arguments, why did you feel like it was necessary to even write a book making a case on why adults or why people should grow up?

Susan Neiman: Grownups get such a terrible rep. The standard view in our culture, and not just American culture, it’s certainly in Western Europe pretty much the same, is that growing up is a matter of giving up, of resigning yourself to the world as it is, of losing your dreams, your hopes, your passions, your ideals. It’s a pretty depressing prospect. The interesting thing is when I wrote the book, I mean you never really know who you’re writing for, but if I imagined a reader it was somebody sort of in their late 40s who felt they had to adjust to the idea that their life was basically over. A lot of those people have liked the book, but I’ve gotten some of the nicest responses and reviews from people under 30 who have said, number one thank heavens somebody is telling us that this is not the best time of my life. We have this idea that the time between 20 and 30 or 18 and 28 is supposed to be the high point of your life. Anybody who is over that, over those years, I have yet to meet a single person who would like to repeat them.

There’s empirical evidence as well that there’s no way in which this is the happiest time of one’s life, but people are told that. I can certainly remember in my 20’s feeling that first of all this was not true of me, but I would keep hearing, “Oh, enjoy the best years of your life”. Then I would think, not only am I struggling with figuring out who I am and what my strengths are and weaknesses and what I want to do, but I’m also not enjoying the best years of my life. It was this kind of thing that you kind of beat yourself with.

I met a lot of people in their 20’s who have said thank you for saying this is not the best part of my life and that I have something to look forward to. That’s why I wrote the book.

Brett McKay: Yeah, but besides this narrative that growing up is terrible and just not fun and you have nothing to look forward to except slowly sliding into the grave, you also argue that our modern culture in a lot of ways infantilizes us, so it makes it hard to grow. Can you explain that? How does modern culture make it hard to grow up?

Susan Neiman: Sure. Let me just back up a step before I answer that, which is to say why. Nobody I have met would like to repeat their 20s. I mean you can sometimes say if I knew what I knew now, but we don’t, so the condition would be repeat them just the way they are, they were actually, full of doubt, full of anxiety, full of I don’t know who I am and I don’t know if I’m going to be able to meet the demands that life places on me, I don’t know if I’m allowed to make a mistake. There’s the view that sort of every decision you make in your 20’s is going to be absolutely fateful and you can’t turn it around.

The question is you have all this empirical evidence against the idea that growing up, that your 20’s are the happiest, best times of your life. You have empirical evidence that people actually get happier as they get older. The question is why are we fed this particular view, and we’re fed it all the time from all the media. I think it’s in order to convince people that they shouldn’t expect very much from their lives and they certainly shouldn’t demand it. I think in a complicated way it’s a political claim, the view that growing up basically sucks. Right?

Then the question, how does the culture infantilize itself … Just at the moment you’re catching me. I normally live in Berlin, Germany but you’re catching me in Mississippi where I’m taking sabbatical and working on a new book. Maybe you’re completely used to this everywhere in the states, but I was just shocked yesterday when I went to get gas. There was a screen at the gas pump. I don’t know, is that something common now in the states? I mean there is no minute in your life when there is not a screen to distract you. What is the distraction doing? Of course you could say, “well, on a micro level it’s providing advertising and selling products and making money.” On a macro level it’s making sure that we never have a moment in which we can actually reflect on what’s going on.

In the book I talk about what we do with babies. I raised three kids. You know that if a baby grabs something that it’s not supposed to have, you left the scissors somewhere or whatever, a little baby just needs to be distracted. I mean there are two choices. There are authoritarian parents who will hit a baby still who grabs something they’re not supposed to have or that might do them damage, but less authoritarian parents, of whom I hope most of us are or will grow up to be, use this other trick which is distracting. With babies, it’s very easy to distract them. You stick a bunch of keys in their face or a bright ring or something and they’ve forgotten all about what they wanted to have.

As a child gets older the distraction gets more complicated, but it’s a huge form of manipulation. It’s carrots and sticks. If you’re raising children you know that you have to use one or the other. Carrots tend to be better. What we have, and now I’m not talking about raising children who you want to prevent from doing themselves harm, which is certainly in the first years of life that is something you need to do, but talking about a whole society who dazzles us with insignificant choices between Walmart or wherever it is you shop. There’s kind of no avoiding Walmart. An entire isle full of toothpaste or breakfast cereal. Of course if you live in a culture like that you get used to it.

It’s very interesting to move back and forth between countries, because the things that you take for granted if you only stay in one place become actually something you think about. If you get a chance to compare it with other cultures, which is why one of the things I strongly recommend in the book as part of the process of growing up is traveling not as a tourist, preferable working in another culture. In any case, we don’t realize how dazed we are and exhausted by the process of deciding which toothpaste to buy or which breakfast cereal to buy that by the time we get out of the gigantic supermarket our brains have kind of had it. We are so drugged, basically, by trivial choices and by the energy that it takes to make trivial choices that we forget that the really important choices are not in our hands: how the world is run, what the government does with our tax money, what our representatives do with our lives.

I would avoid at the moment talking about the political situation that we’re in at the moment because it is so extraordinary and really defies kind of normal interpretations. When I wrote the book I certainly didn’t expect that the White House would look the way that it looks now. I don’t want to talk about partisan political choices, but about an entire system which keeps us distracted just in the same way you would distract a little baby with a key chain.

Brett McKay: Right. What’s interesting, you talk about these choices that we have as consumers. The insidious thing about that is it makes us feel like we’re in control.

Susan Neiman: Exactly.

Brett McKay: We think, “I’m deciding which toaster to buy, or which microwave, or which app I’m going to download on my phone”.

Susan Neiman: Which car to buy, which smartphone, yeah.

Brett McKay: Yeah, but it distracts you from the stuff that really, really will effect your life on a big level.

Susan Neiman: Exactly. It gives us the appearance of choice in these trivial ways without realizing that actually the important choices are out of our hands. The funny thing is when people tell you to grow up, what they mean is stop thinking about big questions like, I don’t know the numbers right now of how many children die every day of preventable diseases. My favorite question at the moment, because I don’t know how to answer it, was asked by Malala. It wasn’t given a lot of press. She won the Nobel Prize when she argued that girls should be allowed to be educated and her life was threatened and nearly lost for that. That was wonderful, but when she used the education that she then got to figure out that you could educate every child on the planet for 12 years on the profits the weapons’ industry makes in eight days, this is an extraordinary figure. I checked it with a major economist, he said it was right. The question why don’t we do that is a question that I don’t even know how to begin to answer.

The message that we tend to get is to, as we grow up we should stop thinking about these very large questions about justice and hunger and who runs the world and why, and we should start thinking about grownup questions, namely getting a job and figuring out how we’re going to buy a bunch of toys. The toys are of course not described as toys. They’re described as crucial tools for becoming an adult. The truth is unfortunately, a smartphone and a computer are in the world we now live in tools for becoming an adult in some parts of this country certainly where there’s no decent public transportation, a car is also part of that. It’s like a reversal. I think Malala’s question is a really grown up question. The question of which smartphone to buy, which app to download is a pretty childish question in the end, but we are taught this reversal.

Brett McKay: Yeah, let’s talk. What do you think it means to grow up? You’re saying the common idea of being grown up is you’ve got to get a house, get a job, figure out how to buy this stuff for yourself and for your family so they have a “good life”. You’re arguing those are actually pretty trivial. If that’s not what it means to be a grownup, how do you define it?

Susan Neiman: Well, let me step back a second. I would not say that providing for yourself and your family is a trivial question, of course it’s not. Those are sort of crucial for being able to do a bunch of other things, it’s just that a lot of people get trapped in the idea of what it means to provide for themselves and their families. It overtakes them in ways that it doesn’t need to. Yeah, I have a job. I raised three kids actually by myself so I was the sole provider for them after their father died quite early. I do know what it means to have to work hard and put food on the table and a roof over people’s heads.

First of all, it doesn’t need to happen as quickly as it’s often supposed. Secondly, there are lots and lots of ways to raise a family and put food on the table. Let me just say that I think there’s one thing and it ties into this whole question. One way to summarize what I think it means to grow up, and it means keeping one eye on the way the world is and one eye on the way the world should be. Unfortunately we’re often taught to close that other eye about the way the world should be and only focus on the way the world is. It’s not necessary. It’s not good for the world as a whole, and it makes for a pretty unhappy life.

Keeping an eye on the way the world is, sure you’ve got to make a living, you’ve got to figure out how to do that somehow. Keeping your eye on the way the world should be, which involves both your own personal dreams, which I actually think is the most crucial part of people’s education. You don’t really know your own culture until you can see it in the light of another. You just take everything for granted until you live somewhere else. I don’t know, maybe you want to become a musician, or a potter. There are a million things that people keep as their own personal aspiration that may not at all relate to making a living, but there’s also being engaged in some form of making the world slightly better than it was when you entered it. I think there’s a deep human need to do that. It can be through beauty, you know somebody becomes a wonderful musician is creating beauty that wasn’t there before she got there, beautiful ceramics, beautiful art of any kind.

I think moving the world a little bit forward is part of our sense of what it means to be human. The ways in which our culture infantilizes us is by keeping us passive. I just saw the screen at the gas pump last night. This is amazing. I’m not supposed to have one thought of my own. I’m simply supposed to be taking in somebody else’s stuff all the time. That means being a receptacle basically for other information, often false information that’s blaring at you so that you have no space to be an active human being to think for yourself. That is what I think is part of being human, part of being grown up.

You see this with children. It’s interesting. Basically as soon as they’re able to hold a crayon or make a mud pie, children are making something in the world, they’re doing something in the world. They want to do it. They don’t simply want to be passively distracted.

Brett McKay: It sounds like being grownup is a matter of balancing idealism with pragmatism?

Susan Neiman: Sure, absolutely.

Brett McKay: Okay. Let’s get to these enlightenment thinkers that you look to, Rousseau and Kant. You argue in the book that coming of age, becoming an adult, is a problem of the enlightenment. Why is that? Why is becoming an adult an enlightenment problem?

Susan Neiman: Basically before about the 1750 there wasn’t a lot of choice in your life. What you did with the rest of your life usually where you lived unless you were fleeing a war or a famine, where you lived and what you did was basically where your parents had lived and what they did. There simply wasn’t a whole variety of historical reasons. Individual choice did not play much of a role in people’s lives. Suddenly, again for complicated reasons that historians can go into, suddenly around 1750 the idea that you might determine some of the course of your own life, you might do something that your parents hadn’t done like lived somewhere where your parents hadn’t lived. You might marry someone who your parents didn’t pick out for you. All of that began to be open.

The interesting thing is we don’t realize how much choice we have. If you think about who really doesn’t have much choice in their lives, look at the royal family of England. Prince George is very clear what Prince George is going to be when he grows up. I’m not saying that one exactly feels sorry for him. He’ll be raised to expect that, certainly a very luxurious life, but it’s also a very predetermined life as part of basically a futile hierarchy that has been left over from premodern times. We have certain choices. We don’t always realize how much choice we have, but we do have them since the last 250 years or so. People began therefore to think about growing up as a task, as a question rather than taking it for granted.

The first person to do that was the French philosopher and writer Jean Jacques Rousseau who very much influenced the German philosopher Immanuel Kant. It’s interesting because they’re both very different stylistically. What they had in common is that each of them came from basically what you’d call a working class family. The parents were small artists. It’s not clear how literate, if they were literate at all they were. The idea that either of those boys would become one of the leading lives of western thought was not even something that could be conceptualized by their parents. That is what happened to them, so it’s not surprising that both of those thinkers wrote about the question.

They also wrote about it of course because they thought … It was also a point in time when you were beginning to think about general education. There were very, very few schools during the Renaissance and early modern period. People of a certain class got tutored at home. People who were below that class did not, but you were beginning in the 18th century to think that it was important to educate boys, not girls, but at least to educate boys.

The question was what kind of influence does education have on the individual person and how does the individual person then fit into or help create political society. We take all this for granted in the states, but actually Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, all these people who were reading enlightenment philosophy all the time and the idea that you had to have educated citizens if you wanted to have a democratic republic, Thomas Jefferson wrote a lot about it, but it was a new idea at the time. We sort of take it for granted. We should take it more seriously now because I don’t think we have a citizenry that’s educated and picking through the mass of information to get the facts picked out from the alternative facts.

In any case, this is an enlightenment idea that if you want to have … It’s a progressive enlightenment idea, obviously the people who did not want to have a more democratic republic did not want to educate the bulk of the population, but the people who wanted a democratic republic realized if that’s going to work and if people are not going to be fooled by any narcissistic demigod who comes their way you need to educate them.

Brett McKay: Let’s talk about Rousseau. He wrote his book Emile. It was a work of fiction where he takes this kid named Emile and sort of raises him and takes him through what he thought was an ideal education to create an adult. Can you kind of summarize to me, what are some of the stuff that Rousseau thought that children should be put through in order to become a grownup?

Susan Neiman: Sure. It’s a kind of crazy book. It’s totally unique. It is fiction, but it’s also the first child raising manual that was ever written. It’s also philosophy, but it’s fun to read, which is why people should take a look at it. It really began every thought about modern pedagogy. Let’s say right off that Rousseau himself knew that was he was proposing was not practical. He begins by saying people are telling me propose what can be done, that’s not human nature. He says we do not know what our nature permits us to be, because our nature has been filtered through particular set of social practices. I’m just going to set out the ideal here and the person who comes closest to the ideal will have done the best.

He also begins the book by saying everything is good as it leaves the hands of the author of nature, everything generates in the hands of men. That’s a pretty strong statement. He wants to reverse that. You actually talk about … I don’t agree with everything Rousseau says in that book, but it’s a terribly important book. The idea is that children are born natural democrats without ideas of hierarchy. They are born without ideas of authority. They are born intensely curious. One should allow them to figure out what they should learn.

Rather than forcing kids to, and everything we think about progressive forms of education all began in Rousseau. Of course in his day the non progressive education was worse certainly than it is now. Kids were supposed to memorize everything. He said, no follow the child’s natural curiosity. He actually thought the child should not learn to read until he or she was 12, which is getting pretty old. He thought if you don’t force the child to do anything except through force of natural necessity, that the child would grow up being nobody’s master and nobody’s slave. As an example, if you tell a child “NO, you can’t have a cookie before dinner”, I’m not saying we should never do this. We sometimes have no choice. The child will react often not happily. If you tell the child there are no more cookies left there’s a very different reaction.

For example, his punishment if a child misbehaves and breaks a window is not to beat him, but to say, “Okay, you’re going to have to sleep in a room in the cold.” Now obviously again, not all of his suggestions are possible or perhaps even right. I think the basic idea that first of all children want to learn, they want to be active, they want to be a part of the world, and if you treat them with respect they will usually live up to it is a deeply important idea.

Brett McKay: How did Rousseau’s ideas influence Kant? You say they’re different in their style, but Kant actually borrowed a lot or found a lot of inspiration in Rousseau.

Susan Neiman: It’s one of the most famous stories about Kant. Kant had a huge amount to do, so he was extremely disciplined. He took an afternoon walk every day after lunch for an hour. He was so regular that they say the people in town could set their watches by him. There were only two times when he didn’t take his normal afternoon walk. The second was when he heard the news of the French Revolution. The first was when he heard when he was reading Rousseau and he was so fascinated by it that he forgot to take his walk. What Kant learned from Rousseau was the idea that if, and this is still a controversial idea, but if people are treated decently and with respect they are not evil, they will behave decently and with respect towards other people.

The idea that basically, and this is the way in which Emile is also a theological book, and it was banned by the way. It was banned and burnt in Paris when it was written. He’s basically denying original sin. He’s saying that “no, you know what, the evil that we see in people is a result of the way that they have been raised and a result of the expectations that they’re given and a result of the way they’re treated. If we go back to more natural ways of raising children and living with them, which means doing without ideas of domination and humiliation, you will be able to raise good human beings.” That was for Kant incredibly important. It has been important for everybody.

Now this idea is often made fun of. You get people like David Brooks in the New York Times, but all kinds of people will say things like, “There are two views of human nature. One is Hobbs and Hobbs says that a life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”, basically that people in the state of nature are in a state of war. This is also called the more realistic position. Rousseau, people turn their noses up at Rousseau and say, “Well, Rousseau believed in the state of nature. Everybody was kind of peace, love and sunshine. Unfortunately that’s not the case.” Rousseau did not have that view at all. He simply said people in the state of nature are morally neutral. What they have is an innate idea of freedom and of action. They don’t want to be nominated, so that if you raise a child to be as free as possible and as undominated as possible you can bring her to become a moral grownup.

It’s not that children are naturally good or never do brutal things. Anybody who has watched a two year old fight over a shovel in a sandbox knows that. The real point about the state of nature is we don’t know. The question is not settled and there’s no way to settle it. We can’t go back there. I know the evolutionary psychologists have a lot of hypotheses, but it’s all just hypothesis. You will also get in various newspapers, popular magazines or whatever people will say, “Well, evolutionary theory says that our ancestors were altruistic because they hoped to get a piece of somebody else’s pie if they gave a piece of their own.” We don’t know what people were like 20,000 years ago. We are clueless. Rousseau’s insight was to say the state of nature could’ve been this way, it could’ve been that way. We don’t know, but we do know that what we assume about human nature will affect what we do and effect how we treat other human beings and what kind of a society we build.

Let’s think about what we’d prefer to build. Would we prefer to build a society in which people were basically respectful of each other, basically free, basically not infantilized, not needing to be dominated in order not to kill each other, which is basically Hobbs’ view, if we want to work for a just and democratic society, let’s assume that people are naturally basically democratic, because we don’t know either way.

Brett McKay: Okay, so yeah that was the whole point of Emile. You treated the child as a democratic, free individual and he learned how to grow into that role through that pedagogy. Okay. Let’s bring it today. Let’s say someone is listening to this. A lot of our audiences are in their 20s and 30s. I know there’s a common complaint amongst people that age. They’re officially an adult. They have a job. They might live by themselves, they have their own place, but they still don’t feel like an adult. What are some brass tack things people can do to become a grownup? You mentioned travel is one, but what are some other things?

Susan Neiman: First of all they should really think hard about what being a grownup means. Funny thing is when I was writing this book, a couple of friends of mine, people in their late 60s, I guess 70, 71 now, good friends of mine said, “What are you working on?” I said “A book called Why Grow Up?” They said, “Ew, that’s an awful subject.” One of them said, “My hero was always Peter Pan.” I thought this was amazingly funny. Three different people said this to me and all of them are people who I would think of as fantastically realized grownups. Two of them are professionally successful, one is not. All of them are very creative. All of them are involved in their communities and in two cases very politically active. All of them have children and grandchildren, but did not raise them in particularly conventional ways. All of them speak more than one language and have lived in more than one place.

It’s still really funny that each of them, a terrific model for me of being a grownup, but they did not want to think of themselves as grownups because they thought growing up had such a bad rep. I would say the first thing, the first comment is growing up is a process and I’m not sure that it ever makes sense to say one is grown up, because in a certain sense that would mean that one has stopped growing. That’s kind of the end, so I’m not sure that being a grownup is an ideal, but the process of growing up is an ideal. Your listeners should just know I’ve met very few people in the process after writing this book I’ve talked to a bunch of people, I gave a bunch of lectures and stuff and I only met a couple who said they would consider themselves to be grownups. They weren’t the people most leading lives that I would like to lead, but the people who I would consider grownup didn’t feel grownup in that sense either.

I think the first thing you need to do is to reexamine your idea of what it means to be a grownup. If you think what it means is to give up your hopes of having an interesting and adventurous life, to always be on one track, to not do something or other to contribute to a better world and you say, “Well, gosh I haven’t given everything up yet so I can’t be grown up”, hey guys, you don’t need to give everything up to be grown up.

Brett McKay: That’s great, I love that. The book Why Grow Up, that’s the question. We talked about some of the voices in our culture that say growing up is a sucker’s game because it’s boring, tedious and hard. Why should people grow up? What is your answer? What do they stand to benefit from growing up?

Susan Neiman: First of all, you’re not going to be able to help growing old. Okay? That’s the first part of the question. You might as well do it well. Right? You might as well do it in a way that’s as, what shall I say, as fulfilling as possible, as meaningful as possible. Doing that actually winds up being subversive. That’s what’s really interesting about the Peter Pan question. I realized when I was talking to these friends who said, “I don’t feel like a grownup. I always wanted to be Peter Pan”, these are not irresponsible people at all. I mean the person who said that is actually, he’s a very significant political activist in Israel.

I thought it was hilarious that he said his hero was Peter Pan. I think it’s a complicated thought, but stay with me for a sec. By painting growing up as a sucker’s game I think, because that is the prevailing view, I think we are encouraged to stay infantile, to stay like Peter Pan, not to want to grow up. Of course infantile people are much easier to control than grownups. If you actually realize the subversive thing to do is not be Peter Pan, not to refuse to grow up, but precisely to become grownup in the sense that I’ve been talking about, a sense of thinking for yourself in the sense of being a free human being who is active in the world, then you’re actually doing something that’s subversive, it’s adventurous. If all of us did it, it would have important political consequences.

Brett McKay: Fantastic. Susan, this has been a great conversation. Is there some place people can go to learn more about your work?

Susan Neiman: Sure. I have a website. Susan.neiman. You can find reviews of most of my books there, some interviews. Click around. It’s pretty extensive.

Brett McKay: Susan, thanks so much for your time. It’s been an absolute pleasure.

Susan Neiman: A pleasure for me too. Great questions. Yeah. I enjoyed being with you.

Brett McKay: My guest today was Susan Neiman. She’s the author of the book Why Grow Up: Subversive Thoughts for an Infantile Age. It’s available on amazon.com and bookstores everywhere. You can also check out Susan’s website at susan-neiman.de where you can find more of her writing and her work. Make sure to check out our show notes at aom.is/whygrowup where you can find links to resources where you can delve deeper into this topic.

Well that wraps another edition of the Art of Manliness Podcast. For more manly tips and advice, make sure to check out the art of manliness website at artofmanliness.com. If you enjoy this show I would really appreciate if you give us a review on iTunes or Stitcher. That helps us out a lot. As always, appreciate the huge support. Until next time this is Brett McKay telling you to stay manly.

Last updated: April 5, 2017

Continue the Conversation ...

Want to share your thoughts on this article? Send us a tweet or join the discussion on Facebook!