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Archive for July 4th, 2017

After the United States dies, the evil of prohibition will (albeit gradually) follow it into Hell.  –  “Successor

Four years ago I wrote “The Mills of the Gods”, in which I explained that…

…my perspective on human affairs had undergone a dramatic shift toward the cosmic…my viewpoint…receded, as though I had stepped away from a magnifying lens through which I had always viewed the world…since then I have been unable to view the timescale of any human life as “long”, and in fact often catch myself talking about stretches of many decades as “brief periods in history”…

Though at the time of that writing I imagined the process as a singular shift, I have since come to realize that it was only the beginning of a continuing process which has since gone much further, and will probably continue until I leave this world.  Whether the disassociation is merely a part of the original process, a response to the deep emotional trauma of the past few years, a defense mechanism to protect my psyche against the cultural horror show I chronicle every day, an adaptation to make me a more effective activist or some combination of several or all of these, I cannot tell; all I know is that I’ve come to view the present as an historical tableau, a set of events that has already happened, which I observe unfolding as though I were a time traveler from a future age.  This isn’t to say I know what’s going to happen; I usually don’t, and even when I do I arrive at the prediction by cognitive processes rather than precognitive ones.  At least, I think that’s the case, and if I’m wrong it’s probably better I don’t know about it just yet.

So, while many of my friends are extremely concerned and even frightened by the events of this century so far (and especially recent events), I tend to view them with a sort of detachment.  This isn’t to say that I’m not angry or offended by them, but I also tend to burst into tears when watching any depiction of the First World War and a number of other historical events that I’m not aware of having been a part of.  Expressed less metaphysically, the political events I’m living through now don’t really feel any more real or personal to me than the events of the Great War, the Roman civil wars or the constantly-shifting political landscape of ancient Mesopotamia, and my tiny part in the events of the present often feels almost inevitable, as though I’m following a script written for me long ago.  People call me heroic, but I don’t feel heroic; I usually feel as though what I’m doing is the only possible choice, or at least the only moral one.

And so, unlike most Americans, I have no innate sense of American exceptionalism; I understand that the current American government will soon (on the historical scale of time) fall, just as all bloated, decadent, dying empires do, and that we’re already beyond the point at which future historians will divide the “classical” US from the late-period one.  I understand that when the collapse comes, it’s not going to be pretty or nice, and that a lot of innocent blood will be spilled along with that of the tyrants and revolutionaries.  I recognize that it’s very unlikely that a new federal government without a clear line of political succession will be able to hold onto all of the states any more than collapsing Rome could hold onto all of her far-flung provinces, and that it’s very likely that in another century the map of North America will look at least as different from the current one as a map of modern Europe looks from an 18th-century one.  I understand and accept these things as wholly as you accept the events of the 19th century: as phenomena that, while one might have feelings about them (even very strong feelings), there’s absolutely nothing one can do about them.  Call that fatalism if you like; I don’t see it that way.  I see it as history, and I see history as a continuously-unfolding process stretching into the far future rather than as a collection of moldering facts about the dead past.

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