I found myself tonight thinking of the decade we came out of four years ago, the one that began with Millennium celebrations, took in 9/11, and included Facebook and Harry Potter (although the first Potter book was published in 1997). It was hardly devoid of interesting occurences, so why are the noughties such a non-event? You rarely hear anyone even use the term, or refer to the decade.
Is the grouping of social history into decades just a stupid convention, anyway? I'm not sure that it is. It seems to have been around for a while. You read about the gay nineties and the roaring twenties. I have a poetry anthology called British Poets of the Thirties, and the poetry contained in it is very specific in character.
All my life I've had a particular fascination with the seventies, the decade of my birth. To me, every photo and song and book from the seventies, no matter how individual, seems to be pervaded by a very particular atmosphere (one I could describe at excruciating length, and almost certainly will, eventually). The eighties has this too. The nineties, not so much. The noughties, not at all.
And as for this decade, almost four and a half years in, I've barely heard anyone even refer to it. And I know for sure that the sixties and seventies were discussed while they were in progress. I remember reading a book of essays entitled The Seventies, published in that year.
Have decades gone out of fashion?
Has Western society run out of ideas?
Do these things only come into focus with the passage of time?