Musing on the End of the World
Thus far, summer has sped by in a glacial fashion, moving as rhythmically and yet chaotically as the sea I so often find myself staring at. My time of solitude spent on the water has been accompanied by steady diet of Vonnegut, Orwell, Hummus, sunlight, and sea breeze(s), occasionally finding time to cram in the research for which I’m supposedly employed. While basking in great literature and U.V rays, several reoccurring themes have persistently jumped off the page into my consciousness. The most prevalent, for reasons unknown to me, is how the idiotic and irresolute tendencies of humans will end the world. While not exactly uplifting, or lighthearted reading to complement a sultry summer afternoon, all this prophetic food for thought has undoubtedly given my mind something to feast upon. My hunger to contemplate the last supper of humanity isn’t exactly excruciating, but it seems that for many others, it’s insatiable.
The recognition of patterns in human behavior, leading to our eventual demise, is surprisingly ubiquitous in our collective culture. Classic novels are only one form of dog day inundation I’ve encountered as of late, articulated more cogently eloquently than the words of most everyday oracles. Human nature catalyzing the destruction of our planet in a robotic, supernatural, or commonplace manner (i.e. nuclear holocaust) has somehow monopolized summer network television. From The Terminator, to Crimson Tide, to Keanu Reeves in various monolithic forms (i.e. the Matrix and the Day the Earth Stood Still), protagonists and antagonists alike keep convincing me that our less attractive qualities will lead to our downfall. Here’s what I find troubling: Whether or not these prophecies are written on subway walls, or orated in Hollywood narratives, they appear be somewhat self fulfilling.
We, as a species, have been around long enough to know our strengths and shortfalls. The fact they are chronicled in numerous fictitious settings and satired quite frequently implies that we are aware of them, and that we have the ability can rise above them. But just like awareness with societal ills, political ineptitude, and the big one, climate change, awareness really isn’t necessitating that much change. It’s starkly apparent that the world really is ending, simultaneously, in multiplicity of ways (At least according to most of the world’s scientists). Excluding religious folk who are born packing for the next life, there are many humans capable of salvaging the world in which we inhabit. However, only select few seem interested or invested in doing so. Bewildering? Not really.
Its almost as if we’ve resigned to defeat, even though we’re only down 55 to nothing at the end of the 3rd quarter. If we have knowledge of our impending fate, we can strive to change, right? But instead of correcting course, humanity not only talks about the world ending, but cleverly rights about it, acts in out, satires it, mocks it, and bemoans it, all while dancing on a beach, drinking margaritas, waiting for the tsunami. Each time a poem, book, movie, whatever it may be, uses human nature as a crux to precipitate the end of the world, it ironically buys into its own commentary; laughing at the doom to come, and entertaining onlookers while doing so. Hopefully the end of the world will be as enthralling as the writers and directors have depicted, or I might have to write a satire about it.
So, does the fact we know our proximate future provide us with the inclination to change, or to just be more ambivalent, less concerned with the tomorrow, more concerned with the today? Its not that we don’t care, its just that, well, we don’t care. We must not care- because we don’t change, we enjoy ourselves so much while remaining the same, and our extinction works to entertain far more than it does to motivate. So, as is tradition, I will now take a mixed drink down to the shore in my backyard, and allow the tide to gently roll over my feet while I ponder, with great satisfaction, the self induced comedy of our apocalypse.
Keep enjoying summer!