The final months of 2020 are before us at last. November and December stare us down like obsidian-clad angels of ruin and regret, looming higher than the very vault of the sky, swords drawn and fingers pointed in accusation, as if to herald the inevitable smiting. Those with eyes to see and ears to hear are not at all astonished to behold such twin specters of punishment and purgation. Imagine your own Doom-Sentinels, if you wish! Pick a horseman, any horseman.
To say the least, 2020 has been a year rife with disturbing social turbulence, unprecedented alteration of daily life and commerce, and withered days marked by a harrowing degeneration of linear thinking skills among factions that pride themselves upon the superior value of “feelings” over reason.
One can practically hear the hiss of the final, stinging sands as they spill, wild and furious, into the bottom of the Damnation Hourglass.
Time’s up, kiddies.
While the horrific toll upon human life exacted by the unleashing of the COVID-19 virus is not unprecedented in the annals of plague and misfortune that have afflicted our beleaguered species, the infrastructural interruption of everyday life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is most assuredly without precedent, at least in modern times. The subsequent and despicable politicization of the virus emanating from all corridors of ideological persuasion is, however, the least surprising aspect of our burgeoning dilemma. This charming little feature was as predictable as the sunrise … or, perhaps more appropriately, the sunset.
The sad and staggering truth is that our present miasma in its entirety has been expanding before the eyes of the West for decades—certainly ever since the advent of the Cold War and, with baleful stealth, fluttering into the halls and fevered brains of academia on the odious wings of post-Structuralism and its rancid, flea-bitten prophets of nihilism and debauchery: Foucault; Derrida; LeCan; et al. Same goes for their equally dismal disciples, still stinking-up classrooms from Harvard to Ms. Pomplefuffer’s Kindergarten Cookie Hour in Dubuque.
The fish rots from the head down, it is said, but when the smell of putrefaction achieves particularly rank proportions, those who can pass by and ignore the billowing fumes tend to do so swiftly.
And so we have done.
The need to work, to live, to love, and to distract ourselves reasonably from the typical human horrors and ills of the past 60 years is not negligible when it comes to scrutinizing the magnitude of our societal apathy.
Sadly, a general measure of coherent cultural contentment and stability—with maybe a few wolves baying outside the door every now and then, or howling in more removed and tolerable forest shadows—serves as the ideal magic carpet upon which the gremlins of insurrection and ideological sedition slip into the pores of our corpulent zeitgeist, as if by night. Once within, they set to work with furious but furtive enthusiasm, and with myopic dedication to their goal, which is ever and always the Great Undoing. The undoing—the undoing of all that is good and pure and objective and sensible.
Statistically speaking, few have ever had the time to note the gremlins, busy as only gremlins can be at their corrosive work. Fewer have had the inclination to stop them, and fewer still the ability to even comprehend the monstrous and colossal extent of their near-evangelical mission.
There have indeed been many voices of warning over the past sixty years, but these have proved far too difficult for the rank-and-file to discern. How can anyone expect the average, hard-working soul to entertain such complex and abstruse arguments? Who needs the intrusion of a clarion call when the morning alarm-clock wreaks enough misery on its own, yanking the productive contingent of society out of warm beds and shoving them into factories and offices and coal mines and onto farm fields?
And what about our lovely and treasured distractions? Don’t we deserve them? Haven’t we earned the right to luxuriate in them, to wallow?
Behold the vast landscape of bright and shiny Toys, of Titillating Devices, each one more enchanting and irresistible with every passing year. Nay!–more beguiling and addictive with every passing month!
And so the mildew has set in. Accumulated. And the sickness that once lingered at the edges and stained only the margins has overwhelmed the house from rafter to rafter, wall to wall.
Most of us have been asking for it, and most of us are going to get it, in one way or another.
History alone drives home this inexorable truth, but alas, history’s voice is the one most twisted and least heeded of all those braying amid the din.The irony is that history’s voice is the only one that has remained alive, constant, and in the process of Becoming, along with us, at our sides as both companion and cautioner.
Enjoy history, friends, because it is about to raise its voice above the fray, as it does, sometimes, when it feels neglected for too long … when it has been overly ignored in favor of more convenient siren songs.
And the rain shall fall upon the just and the unjust alike. Just like always. Only harder.
My experience of the year 2020 does not merit much description, in light of present circumstances. There was a novel (Wistwood) published and critically well-received. A screenplay adaptation written for Netflix. There were a couple of disheartening fire evacuations in the now perennial tinderbox that is California. The unsettling protocol modifications demanded by the pandemic outbreak. Etc. etc.
But the details of my existence mean very little to me, in terms of sharing and broadcasting. Who cares? That being said, future plans are not without form and ambition. Said plans, however, will be taking-on much different contexts in the future. Books and blogging (so dreary) will comprise the least of these contexts. Look for an absolute—and hopefully interesting—overhaul of my site in early 2021. After all, there’s only the rest of life with which to properly occupy one’s self.
Meanwhile, be quite well, be quite safe, and be surprised by nothing.