“I don’t think people experience aging as a long, slow process. They experience it like a snap of the fingers. It’s a sudden jump. You say, ‘What happened?'”
CURRENT INTERESTS: Writing, speaking, making ceramics
CAREER: Author; Chancellor’s Professor of Sociology and Founder, Institute for the Study of Social Change, UC Berkeley; Silver Professor of Sociology and Director of the Institute for the History of the Production of Knowledge, NYU
An intellectual force to be reckoned with, Troy is nevertheless relaxed, friendly, and easy to talk to. His far-ranging views on everything from ethics to aging are delivered with conviction and a healthy dose of humor.
My retirement hasn’t been the kind where it’s just—click—you’re either floundering or off into a whole new world. I am retired, but I continue to do a lot of what I did during my teaching years. My early work, including my first book, The Legislation of Morality: Law, Drugs, and Moral Judgment, was all around the social, biological, and political aspects of opiate addiction. Then my focus shifted into examining the influence of social and political values on genetic research, and I served on the National Advisory Council for the Human Genome Project. Now, I spend a few days a week at the university and engage with colleagues and students. I am still writing articles and op-eds and giving lectures. But I’ve read my last blue book, and I’m not unhappy about that!
These days, I’d rather sit at the pottery wheel. I make ceramics—bowls, cups, and so forth. I’ve been doing this for over 50 years. My early pieces were stoneware, but now I’m working with porcelain.
There are so many ways that people experience aging. Some people feel that aging is no fun, that aging takes it all out of you, instead of the flip side of it—gaining wisdom, and those positive things. For myself, I’m feeling no sense of disconnection from the world.