I don’t know what I’ve been doing all week. Mostly I’ve been trying to draw pleasure from the same old things that have given me pleasure in the past. But it’s not working. Maybe it’s the law of diminishing returns, but I think that only affects people below a certain level of capitalization. It seems like the über-wealthy follow a different law, the law of infinitely increasing returns.
By the time I’m on This Is Hell radio, with your host Chuck Mertz and your producer Alex Jerri, who knows what part of the world will be in flames?
Then again, maybe everything will be resolved nicely by then, wrapped up with a bow, and I will have stopped agonizing about World War III.
It all makes me worry about Hillary Clinton. How it must eat at her, believing she could have saved the world from its now immanent destruction. Has anyone checked on her? I just think someone should console her, tell her, “It’s all right. Yes, your management of our forever war would’ve been much more discreet, but Australia would still be on fire. Don’t worry, you wouldn’t have done much to fix most of the problems, which we might not have even known existed if we didn’t have Dump to highlight them and to blame them on, when a lot of them were actually results of Obama, Bush, and even Bill Clinton policies. So, rest easy. You were never going to save us from what started long before Dump, only from the pain of his most flagrant vulgarities. You certainly wouldn’t have saved the world, get over yourself.”
What I should do, rather than worry about the world or Hillary, I’ll pick a distraction, that usually works. Eating, that’s something to do. What shall I eat? How about that piece of farm- raised salmon I got for such a reasonable price at the Armenian market? Color added for appeal!
Yes, I know, I know. Everything I do, every move I make, adds to the destruction of the planet. Well, at least I’m not assassinating anyone. At least I’m not provoking a region’s largest military in order to distract from the untimely publication of evidence of my crazy, ego-driven crimes. At least I’m not Donald Dump.
I agree, faithful listener, that is not a very high standard to hold oneself to. No, you’re right. I ought to expect more from myself. At least I don’t damn people to a cold darkness of eternal torment! No, I guess that’s not much better.
Was that a bomb?! Jesus, no, it was just someone closing the garage door.
You know, it occurs to me, in quiet moments of reflection like this one here, that the longer one lives, the more chance there is for something truly devastating to happen right in front of your eyes. Personally, I’ve been spared most of the horrors of human existence. I’ve only read or heard about them secondhand.
I’ve met people who were in Nazi concentration camps. I met a woman who had to watch her three-year-old daughter washed out to sea during Hurricane Iris. I’ve met people who had to escape from Cambodia, people who went through the Bosnian war, people who were tortured in Chile and Morocco and Iraq and Israel and Chicago, and who lost friends to terrorism and to serial killers. People who survived ruining their lives with drugs, and people who’ve lost the ability to walk. People who lost their children to cancer and drug overdose or their parents to suicide.
What a time to be alive!
There’s no point in dwelling on the terrible and the sorrowful. There’s no point in anything, really, if you get right down to it. But especially in dwelling on the terrible and the sorrowful.
Reminds me of some advice my father gave me. Or, no, not advice, more a chastisement. He said, “Quit dwelling on it!” I don’t remember what it was I was dwelling on, all those years ago, in our old house in Oak Park, Michigan, that starter ranch house with its olive linoleum tile in the kitchen, olive, orange and yellow starbursts scattered on the wallpaper, very hand-scrawled looking, like multicolored versions of Kurt Vonnegut’s famous sketch of a butthole.
I learned a lot about the sun in those days, that it came up in the morning and went down in the evening, sometimes as late as ten pm, even a little later, thanks to Daylight Savings Time, and Michigan being on the far-western end of the Eastern Time Zone.
In the middle of winter, it appalled me how much suffering we were expected to endure – little did I know about suffering, or of being appalled – going to school hours before the sun came up, while traffic struggled in the deep, heavily-falling snow. I was a crossing guard for a while. It was a privilege. We were given hot chocolate before having to go to class.
See, this is what happens when you get old, you reach back into your memories, clawing for any respite from the god-awful present! Yeah, it’s gonna happen to you, too. That’s how it happens, that’s how we wind up descending into going from glen to glade, burbling in the foggy forest of reverie, wandering till we’re lost in its seductive and mind-addling verdure.
This is how it happens, you sprouts, you babies, you young people with your stickball and your glue-huffing! You think it won’t happen to you! Good! Keep thinking that! It’ll happen whether you expect it or not, might as enjoy the bliss of ignorance.
Yes, this how our minds become old and foolish. But how do our minds become vile and fascist? That’s the question, which, if we ever answered it, ah, then maybe we could change the fascist mind. Then we wouldn’t have to wrap them all in a giant cloak of plastic wrap and suffocate them. Hey, that’s a great idea! Drop a big Saran Wrap on a Dump rally!
Aw, gee. Remember suffocating? They changed it to asphyxiating, I don’t know why. It’s suffocate! Why did they change that?! I liked it better when it was “suffocate!” They mean the same damn thing! Trust me! Uch, everything was better back when it was “suffocate.” Ah, remember when we used to suffocate? None of that fancy asphyxiation for us, we were down to Earth. It was a simpler time.
When did we lose “suffocate?” When we went off the gold standard? When people started saying, “I could care less,” instead of, “I couldn’t care less?” When all the candy became “sour” and “gummy” and all the chips and Cheetos became hot?
I promise you, I did not intend to wax nostalgic. Oh, remember wax lips? Why did we have those? Anyway, I had fully intended to examine the rightwing imagination, I was going to go back to Leo Strauss and his quarrel with certain aspects of the Enlightenment, and then proceed to when William F. Buckley joined the battle with his attack on academia in his early tour de force of extreme Christian fascism, God and Man at Yale. And follow that through the imaginary communist conspiracy that gave rise to Nixon, then Reagan’s inability to tell fantasy from reality, then mention the One Percent Doctrine where the reality-based community parted ways permanently with those who make policy in the clouds of the world in which they desire to live.
But then, Donald Dump, the man who has manifested desires more outlandish than Sardanapalus or Caligula, out of the thinnest air, assassinated Suleimani, Qassem Suleimani, the Quantum Salami, igniting what infernal future we will only discover when we would most wish to remain in the above-mentioned bliss of ignorance. Donald Dump, whom the worst of us conjured into being, and conjured into authority and power, and who himself conjures a mirage of statesmanship, a mirage of competence, of responsible behavior, handed as he was an imperialism conjured by the hubris of men playing at being kings and philosophers.
And that attack, that assassination – and, hey, I have nothing against assassination, especially if it spares the innocent, which this one most likely will not – it was just too much. I’m fretting over the repercussions, the revenge. So, much like Hillary Clinton, after having her ass handed to her by the Electoral College – itself yet another imaginative creation of men playing at creating a democracy but too afraid of the real thing to allow it to happen – I turn to the woods, and wander in, to lose myself in dreams of what was and what might have been.
This was and might have been the Moment of Truth. Good day!