Sandwich-Board Prophets

Posted: November 5, 2017 in Culture, Idealism, Industrial Collapse, Mental Health
Tags: , , , , ,

Commentary on the previous post poses a challenging question: having perceived that civilization is set on a collision course with reality, what is being done to address that existential problem? More pointedly, what are you doing? Most rubes seem to believe that we can technofix the problem, alter course and set off in a better, even utopian direction filled with electronic gadgetry (e.g., the Internet of things), death-defying medical technologies (as though that goal were even remotely desirable), and an endless supply of entertainments and ephemera curated by media shilling happy visions of the future (in high contrast with actual deprivation and suffering). Realists may appreciate that our charted course can’t be altered anymore considering the size and inertia of the leviathan industrial civilization has become. Figuratively, we’re aboard the RMS Titanic, full steam ahead, killer iceberg(s) looming in the darkness. The only option is to see our current path through to its destination conclusion. Maybe there’s a middle ground between, where a hard reset foils our fantasies but at least allows (some of) us to continue living on the surface of Planet Earth.

Problem is, the gargantuan, soul-destroying realization of near-term extinction has the potential to radicalize even well-balanced people, and the question “what are you doing?” is tantamount to an accusation that you’re not doing enough because, after all, nothing will ever be enough. We’ve been warned taught repeatedly to eat right, brush our teeth, get some exercise, and be humble. Yet those simple requisites for a happy, healthy life are frequently ignored. How likely is it that we will then heed the dire message that everything we know will soon be swept away?

The mythological character Cassandra, who prophesied doom, was cursed to never be believed, as was Chicken Little. The fabulous Boy Who Cried Wolf (from Aesop’s Fables) was cursed with bad timing. Sandwich-board prophets, typically hirsute Jesus freaks with some version of the message “Doom is nigh!” inscribed on the boards, are a cliché almost always now understood as set-ups for some sort of joke.

It’s an especially sick joke when the unheeded message proves to be true. If one is truly radicalized, then self-immolation on the sidewalk in front of the White House may be one measure of commitment, but the irony is that no one takes such behavior seriously except as an indication of how unhinged the prophet of doom has gotten (suggesting a different sort of commitment). Yet that’s where we’ve arrived in the 21st century. Left/right, blue/red factions have abandoned the centrist middle ground and moved conspicuously toward the radical fringes in what’s being called extreme social fragmentation. On some analyses, the rising blood tide of terrorists and mass murders are examples of an inchoate protest against the very nature of existence, a complete ontological rejection. When the ostensible purpose of, say, the Las Vegas shooter, is to take out as many people as possible, rejecting other potential sites as not promising enough for high body counts, it may not register in the public mind as a cry in the wilderness, an extreme statement that modern life is no longer worth living, but the action speaks for itself even in the absence of a formal manifesto articulating a collapsed philosophy.

In such a light, the sandwich-board prophet, by eschewing violence and hysteria, may actually be performing a modest ministerial service. Wake up and recognize that all living things must eventually die that our time is short. Cherish what you have, be among those you love and who love you, and brace yourself.

  1. Robert Schick says:

    Morning Brutus. Guess I hit a NERVE. Good. Add some hot spice to the mix for digestion or indigestion. Here’s the ‘nerve proof’ from YOUR words: “…and the question ‘what are YOU doing?’ is tantamount to an accusation that you’re not doing enough, after all, nothing will ever be enough.” Well, that begs the easiest, for me, of responses: “How do YOU know that?” Besides, if you don’t try by taking action, isn’t it a given that NOTHING will happen of any consequence, could never be enough? Like man, what’s to lose by trying, taking action? Other than your comfort level? What’s so wonderful about doing nothing and just witnessing the biosphere’s collapse? Your ‘solution’ guarantees failure; mine stands a chance of success, even if slim. Yours is standing by watching it collapse and disappear, mine is fucking fighting for this planet…funny, eh? What’s so funny? Besides fighting for all the innocent lives, all the critters, I’ll be fighting for those who stand by and do nothing. Does that make sense to you? I’ve been forced to fight for all the grifters that this sociopathic society has demanded of me all my Life, and now those, who should know better, have joined hands and minds with the grifters? You’ve trapped yourself in the very similar circuitous words of those who wield the truncheons, do you not? I expected more of you. That’s what disappoints me, what hurts.

    As I’ve stated previously in your last blog posting: I do solution-oriented creative work through writing, composing, plant breeding, ever decreasing my negative ecological footprint in a myriad of ways. It ain’t easy, it isn’t perfect, but Earth doesn’t expect perfect, just acting in its best interests which is all of us. But standing by as a mere witness, won’t make the cut for me. Is what I do going to make a difference? I’d like to think it is, that it will, has a fighting chance. But bearing witness alone will not make a difference. I suggest keeping your mind posted to a forthcoming article of mine to be published in Acres, USA, tentatively for the January 2018 issue: “Tis Better To Have Lost and Loved (Than Never To Have Loved At All)’ for one of my solution-oriented works. It’s about reciprocation of the highest order WITH the Earth, of being true Teachers, of offering ethical behavior in the midst of nihilistic insane humans.

    So really Brutus, there isn’t any more from me in this ‘debate’. As I clearly stated from my last reply in your ‘Disappearing Act’: “Our main difference appears to be in taking action or not taking action, regardless of personal consequences.” It’s really that simple. I truly wish you well and only suggest that you check out the clouds more often…witness their beauty while they still exist. Me? Back to creating and taking action. I didn’t copyright (or wrong) this missive, so to anyone so driven, permission granted to pass it along…I’ll suffer the consequences. Love to all Life, robert

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