So this is it. The end result of six decades of protest, activism and civic engagement:
Was it worth it?
Ignore that last question. It was stupid. Whether or not something is worth the effort is entirely subjective, not to mention completely impertinent to the indisputable fact that what has happened is what has happened, so why debate it retrospectively?
I hated The Stand by Stephen King. Mind you, I enjoyed the first 100 pages or so (for those whose only exposure to this post-apocalyptic tale was the Molly Ringwald-helmed miniseries, I enjoyed it right up to the point that the film’s unofficial theme song “Don’t Fear The Reaper” stopped playing.) That’s the precise point in the story when the mass death abates and the remnants of humanity begin to organize into groups and towns and cultures again. What a perfect way to ruin an otherwise beautiful bedtime story.
The reason I hate the turn Mr. King took in his novel, of course, is that it’s probably pretty close to what would really happen as opposed to my fantasy of total human annihilation. For better accuracy, we need to relegate the phrase “end of the world” to far off events like the death of the sun – in other words, events that would literally result in the end of the planet and all life upon it. Covid-19 isn’t such an event, obviously, nor is chaos on the streets of America…nor is the infuriating elevation to power of America’s most idiotic vulgarian. None of these things are as portentous as we like to think (especially not as portentous as I like to think). Sadly, we aren’t doomed. Quite the contrary: when an organism with as much power to manipulate the environment as ours grows to nearly 8 billion strong, it’s going to take a lot more than civil unrest and occasionally fatal viruses to wipe it out. It would take more than global thermonuclear warfare, in fact.
Mind you, it is within the realm of possibility that our species truly is on the downturn, so to speak. In its waning days. But when an organism with as much power to manipulate the environment as ours hangs around for over 100,000 years, its eventual demise will necessarily be very gradual. What that means is you won’t be around to see it, nor will I, nor will anyone that currently inhabits the planet. All such dramatic apocalyptic prophecies are the result of laughable self-importance, a feeling that it would represent the fulfillment of some destiny and end in divine or fateful judgment. They are also very popular fictional and/or religious tropes because all of us love the drama. But how many times can we watch the same movie and still pretend to be surprised by the ending? If any of this can be said to rise to the level of drama, it’s only dramatically repetitious.
So I have had to make peace with the fact that I will never get the “happy ending” to this human drama that I had fooled myself into anticipating. Nope. The planet will keep shitting out people long after it’s flushed me and you down the commode. That’s okay. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I’ve always known this. Honestly, my former dalliances in apocalypse porn were just momentary escapes from the far more mundane truth. But now that I’ve admitted this, the jig is up, right? Today, I put down my metaphorical pen and leave it to those whose adorable optimism in the face of impossibility can still manage to make me feel nice for just a nanosecond. Not hopeful – that’s over with. Just nice.
I intend to spend the rest of my life, however long that may be, in the bleachers. I am a spectator, nothing more. Mild curiosity represents the pinnacle of emotional highs that I can experience. Since I don’t have the drive or the wherewithal to start any “new chapters” in life, I feel like someone who just sat through a 50 year long film only to find that the credits last just as long as the feature.
So here I sit, as the credits roll on and on and on.
Imagine if those astrophysicists that posit a never-ending multiverse process of creation and destruction are right? If they are, then this isn’t even the last time this exact blog post will be written. In fact, its composition will be infinite.
Clockwork predictability underlying apparent entropy! What a colossal bore.
I’ve nothing more to say.