November 1, 2018 § 8 Comments
“Do you think this is what Rome was like?” He asks.
“Probably. Only with more puking so that people could keep eating. Oh, and more slaves.”
Leaning on the wall, we look out over the New York City skyline. My brother and I have made our way to the open-air portion of the rooftop nightclub. On any given day, neither of us would set foot in a place like this. He lives in Seattle, and prefers to spend his free time hiking in the mountains. I live in the Midwest, and when I have a moment to relax, I too prefer to be outdoors, slowly ambling about amongst trees and stones.
Behind us a mass of people forms an apron around the bar. My sister explained that this is a pretty hot place to be, which is why she booked a corner of the club for her wedding after party. From what I can tell, the motif is intentionally absurd, as if all of the elements present were selected by writing disparate nouns and adjectives on scraps of paper, and then drawing them at random from a hat. “Lewd topiary.” “Sexy Miniature Golf.”
Of particular note is the indoor carousel that has outward facing couches on it. Slowly it spins, displaying those who adorn its furniture like slices of pie in a diner dessert case. Pounding music fills every inch of breathable space.
“Everything you said was going to happen is happening. I just read the other day that half of all insects are dead, or something like that.”
My youngest brother is the only person in my family with whom I could talk about such things. Looking out the cluster of skyscrapers, I nod.
“Half of the human population lives in cities. They never see insects anyway. Maybe the occasional cockroach. But by and large, insects just aren’t a part of their world, so they will never notice.”
Eleven people died when a man walked into a synagogue in Pittsburgh and began to spray bullets from his semiautomatic rifle into the worshippers there. After trading shots with the SWAT team that responded, he was wounded and captured. While in police custody, he explained that he hated Jews, and wanted to kill Jews. Something, something, “Jews are globalists who are working to bring immigrants to the US,” something, something.
Only days prior, a man in Louisville, Kentucky tried to enter a predominantly black church, but couldn’t get in. So instead, he took his pistol and his anger to a nearby grocery store where he walked up behind an older black gentleman, and shot the unsuspecting man in the back of the head. After doing so, the gunman walked into the parking lot where he saw a black woman, and he proceeded to shoot and kill her. A witness who happened to have a handgun himself drew down on the shooter and yelled, “What’s going on?”
The murderer blithely replied, “Don’t shoot me, and I won’t shoot you. Whites don’t shoot whites.”
Homicide sometimes seems to be edging out baseball as the great American pastime. It’s almost shocking to see an American flag flying at full mast anymore. I often wonder whose job it is at McDonald’s corporate HQ to decide which massacres warrant sending out a memorandum to all franchises that the recent spate of carnage is enough to warrant a half-mast flag. After all, sales of hamburgers and nuggets might drop if they appeared insensitive to the carnival of death their customers must evade on the way to the drive-thru.
A good portion of the murder committed in the US is over some personal dispute, and is very often in some way a result of other criminal activity, predominantly the drug trade.
But a significant amount of the contemporary homicide is political, and that political murder usually is committed by people who hold right wing viewpoints.
Early in October, three academics revealed that they had spent a year on a project to expose not only the flaws inherent in certain academic systems, but the downright absurdity of particular workings of modern academia.
Helen Pluckrose, James Lindsay, and Peter Boghossian wrote twenty papers which they then submitted to academic journals for peer review. They used the lexicon of the various humanities they were lampooning, and made up ridiculous studies, such as an examination of rape culture amongst dogs at Portland area dog parks. This paper was published in the journal, Gender, Place and Culture, and even given an award.
The authors of the bogus papers have explained that they were trying to expose first, a flawed review process, in which their made up sources were never examined. Further, they were trying to expose how the jargon of these humanities, once familiar, could be used haphazardly and almost at random to make nearly any claim, so long as that claim fell within a prevailing moral orthodoxy in which being white, male, and heterosexual was a problem. In their words, the journals they submitted to represent the “grievance studies,” in which notions of gender, race, and identity have been molded into a near religion at universities that cannot be critiqued.
They found that despite their comical claims and patently silly notions, (such as how the “conceptual penis” is responsible for climate change) reviewers of their submissions often were excited about their work, but required fixes before publication; fixes that made the papers even more ridiculous than the authors had initially been able to achieve.
This action, of course, has many people who exist in a left wing academic setting hopping mad, and scrambling to defend their work, their positions, and most importantly, their egos.
The world is dying, and there is nothing I can do about it. The rich are getting richer while the poor get poorer, and there is nothing I can do about it. A famine is starving millions of helpless people in Yemen, Canadian glaciers are melting, oil is leaking in the Gulf of Mexico, and there is nothing I can do about it.
We exist in a world in which manmade social systems are destroying the life giving biological systems of the Earth. All the while, these social systems have stripped us of any real say over how those same systems function. Once this is truly understood, the twin pair of helplessness and dread settle in for a nice, long visit.
Long ago, the sales teams of capitalism realized they would sell more lawnmowers and VCR’s if people were more atomized, more isolated. If a big family lives together, or hell, a band of people live in close commune, they can all share one dust buster. Alone in their apartments, or broken into nuclear family suburban units, people need their own shit. Hell, they can even start competing for who has more or nicer shit.
So it is that people now stare red eyed at their glowing screens, alone, clacking away at the keys, pleading with the digital ether to come up with a solution to this giant mess we’re in. The internet is rife with chatter about potential solutions to the great crises of our age.
If only everyone gave up meat…
If only everyone gave up consuming…
If only everyone gave up breeding…
If only everyone gave up…
All by ourselves we silently beg for everyone to join in.
We are impotent, and flailing. We have no power over the political or economic systems that currently operate. It is because of these systems that we have food and electricity and homes. It is also because of these systems that billionaires jet set and rub elbows while millions starve and suffer and hundreds of species go extinct every single day.
Millennia in the making, these social systems simultaneously feed us and bleed us, and because of that, no one is exactly sure how to turn the machine off. With no real power over the things that we absolutely need to take control of, we flex our muscle where we still can.
We hyper manage our identities. We hurt each other. We go out and buy some shit. Bonus points when we do all three at once.
Then we pony up to the bar in the dim yellow light, we let the pounding music drown out the screams of the dying, and hope to get lucky.