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Lawrence Cohen

This chapter engages both the irony of old age and the old age of irony. Building on an understanding of senility and dementia as reg- isters of voice, it makes three principal assertions: first, that a form of listeningwe might term ironic may allow for less depersonaliza- tion of those we hear to be senile; second, that an ironic relationship to the biologization of everythingavoids a return to nature/culture binaries; and third, that irony for both Plato and for Vico is framed as a temporal register of the aging of things. Using Socrates as an example of a figure whose aging is outside of nature yet under the law, the essay explores the tension between living with the difficult elderly and seeking to displace them in order to maintain the time- lessness of culture.