We are one of the first periods in human history to have turned our backs all but completely on the wisdom of the old. I write this surrounded by the splendid, learned and now marginalised coffee-drinking remnants or many powerless lunches in the Diogenes Club, who are my Exhibit A.

The causes of this are simply that in an age of cheap energy the complex mental states of the old are of relatively little value, since we suppose that it is possible to supply what they offer from more recently created sources and without inordinate difficulty. But if the price of this advice has fallen, perhaps it is a bargain; and moreover, perhaps it is radically undervalued. Perhaps, indeed, our supposition is mistaken, and in fact this wisdom offers complexity resulting from informational accumulation and winnowing over very long periods of time, and which we cannot reproduce in short order without the consumption exceptional energy resources, if at all.

Then again, perhaps I have simply noted that the Middle Aged are next on the list for isolation, and am making a pre-emptive strike.