« on: January 07, 2017, 07:47:43 am »
Winter grows like a glacier on the lengthening evenings, night after night depositing a fresh layer of cold onto what was there yesterday. It fits, this season of hibernating nature where everything looks, and feels, like a corpse. The flashing and buzzing of our synthetic society does what it can, but no matter what advances we make in quantum dot color technology, no matter how vivid the reds get, the cheap veneer of civilization peels away upon any close inspection. We scurry, we frantically, urgently distract ourselves with everything we can get a hold of. We build bigger buildings, we buy bigger TVs, we drive faster cars, we blast more rockets into space. We demand progress, because progress is how we define ourselves. Without it, we ... trail off, unable to complete a thought. Nothing.
In a way, it could be said we are the last lucky generation. The ruins of civilization are in such good repair, for now. At least the lights are still on. We know the ride has ended, but if we just hold out a little longer, maybe we -- maybe our children -- will live and die before the whole thing collapses in on itself entirely. No one talks seriously about rebuilding. No one talks seriously at all. No one talks at all. Well, we are all talk, just not to each other.
I am a pessimist. My pessimism runs deep, practically spiritual. I have an unshakable faith in the thorough rottenness of nature's ill-fated experiment in sentience. We have no idea what we are doing, who we are, or who we want to be. And yet, after having my pessimism vindicated so abruptly, I find myself wishing for optimism to show up somewhere. The 1960s were awful for a lot of people, but they gave rise to Star Trek, a show that is universally described as "optimistic" but which, it occurs to my cynical mind, managed to place the universal goodness and godwill of humanity exactly where it belongs: in some lofty, distant future that we will never achieve. At the time, and even now, Star Trek is lauded as describing humans at our best. And, here and there, its optimism inspired real people in real places to do truly good things. But mostly it comforted the already comfortable by telling us that someday, we would rise above it all and become our best selves. So we convinced ourselves that eventually, everything would work itself out. That we were on the right track. That "the arc of history bends toward justice".
Not today, though. Equality is inevitable; it just isn't yet realized. In the meantime, we need more prisons. We need tougher laws for those thugs. In the meantime, we need to cut back on these entitlements, and push people to be responsible for themselves. Someday, someday we will get there; but today, we are here, and let's just do this right now.
I am not educated to know if any of this makes sense in any sort of context. Did we ever value today what we believed we would value tomorrow? Or has our vision of the future always been so divorced from our plan for this afternoon? Our dreams so useless while we are awake? It turns out that history does not move itself. That the arrow of time does not attract the "arc of history". That what goes up does, in fact, come back down.