as you know, i am opposed to generations as explanatory entities, on multiple grounds. i've been in a comment-swap on this on aeon. so, we pretend to treat whole twenty-year-or-whatever cohorts as individuals with personalities. then, we pretend that these pretended individuals have experiences. mattmark, the anti-me in the comments, makes some pretty usual moves: 'we' were 12 when kennedy was shot; we knew hope and aspiration when we landed on the moon, then lost our simple faith in authority with watergate. my view is that this fantasy of identity needs pseudo-experiences because pseudo-persons can't have real experiences. so the pseudo-individual baby boom lost its innocence when kennedy was killed. lord knows how americans had any innocence in 1963, or any faith in authority in 1973. honestly, we didn't. with kennedy, our daddy died. people actually did cry, but it was a pseudo-trauma: a person you never met bit it. you 'knew' him entirely from television, where he inspired you with words written by someone else. it was not a real loss for almost anybody; it's quite like watching king rob bite it on game of thrones. i think what matters in both cases was that he was so pretty. be an actual person with actual connections to actual other people, not part of a giant pseudo-person with quasi-connections to fictional characters.
i think it's fair to say that one thing that irks me in some of these cases is the fact that the state is the actual imaginary individual involved; that is who or what is constructing the narrative by which we become one thing: the story we tell of losing dad when we were twelve, blasting off to the moon together when we were 18, and so on (i was born in 1958, btw, not '50 as in the example). i guess dad was a philandering, pill-popping dad, but you know that's pretty par for the course, and must be what we wanted or something. but actually, i don't like the narrative as the essence of collective identity in any way shape or form. what our generation is is just what the tv special tells, running beatles songs in the background. the times they are a-changin! the story is insanely superficial, but also fundamentally fictional, and i think the music sucks. instead of thinking about the incredible power of stories to be our identity, individual and collective, think about their incredible limitations. it's elisions all the way down, man. and it's so false.
well, that's better than dylan, anyway: more self-aware, more ironic, a little bit funny.