The Pleasures of the Apocalypse
It's time to stop worrying.
Posted Aug 17, 2017
The end is nigh. So stop tormenting yourself.
Presently The Apocalypse is getting mighty popular, a kind of global “don’t worry, be happy,” moment for people and the planet.
Newspapers, magazines and television are inconveniently pointing out what will happen if Seoul or Los Angeles are obliterated by a North Korean ICBM, the marauding Canadian brushfires that have turned Seattle (so far away!) into a smokebowl, the coming catastrophes of an “above average” hurricane season. Yet people are having too much fun to fret.
An evil force beyond all imagining is planning to take over not just the planet, but our spindly, out of the way universe. Fortunately Dr. Strange, spiritually revived after a destructive car accident, will discover transcendant powers and defeat the dark monster. An ex-model noted for her superb eyebrows and her impossibly bland but hunky overseer will in the nick of no time beat back an evil general and save the thousand worlds of the pleasure planet Valerian. Every moment terrorist attacks are outwitted by hyperintelligent, cunning home grown television heroes in South Korea, Turkey, China, Russia and South Africa, leaving Claire Danes and her American friends deep in media dust.
But new voices are claiming the situation has gone too far to be remediated. The falsity of “fiat money” will be discovered, leading to financial apocalypse. Global warming is sufficiently advanced, as noted in an article in the New Yorker, that there’s little point in doing anything. Ballooning government deficits will begin the extinction of Social Security and Medicare. Our apocalyptic inoculation is knocking out the inoculum.
No Need to Worry
Many see these upcoming disasters as great opportunities to go out and live. With the apocalypse impending, folks can begin to relax. Worried about retirement, when over half of Americans have virtually no savings and expect to live on Social Security or the kindness of strangers? Forgetaboutit. You don’t have to put away the hundreds of thousands financial planners think you’ll need to survive America’s “best in the world” health care system into later life. No more belt tightening to pay for your son and daughter's multiple weddings. No worries coming up with the big bucks for your kids or grandkids’ university tuitions. Disability or nursing home insurance—why bother when social services will become too expensive for practically everybody? No surprise private U.S. debt is now at 12.7 trillion bucks—higher than before the last financial crash.
Best to enjoy stuff while you can.
And for those who cannot make it in today’s tech economy, there are entertaining compensations. Twenty-somethings are working far less hours than they did 20 years ago. Partly it’s because their skills don’t fit available jobs—even if immigrants are too frightened to break through the US border and fill our agricultural labor pools. American lemons now rot on the ground. Rather than perform harsh, back destroying labor you can join your friends in multiplayer video games, where your real skills are finally rewarded—and the aliens are victoriously vanquished. The million young “shut-ins” of Japan now may be superseded by a legion of youthful, immovable American cohorts, winning at games or binge watching television series while their parents deliver pizzas to their bedrooms. And for those frustrated by the daily grind, go to the “Wrecking Crew” on 38th Street in NYC, where for $30 you get thirty minutes with a crowbar or metal bat to contentedly smash a bucket of dishes and two or three electronic devices—laptops and computer monitors are the most popular destruction items. The Wrecking Crew and its sister anger companies worldwide, like the Budapest-Singapore-Sydney Rage Room, are doing a booming, blasting business, as fantasy edges into reality.
When Fantasy Gets Real
Few are surprised Reality TV is the antithesis of Reality. The carefully chosen players forego “real life,” schooling and jobs in order to appear in scripted, heavy breathing mini-series where canny producers force them to angrily break up with their perfectly compatible boyfriends and altar boys learn to curse like Scottish politicians. The real shock should come with the recognition that fantasy now trumps reality, that Reality TV is Reality for tens of millions of Americans.The scariest denial of the pleasures of apocalypse is when the apocalypse does not arrive. And you’re still here, dealing with the drip by drip increasing mayhem.
It's not just the conspiracy theorists telling us extraterrestrials are running the Defense Department and the Federal Reserve. Witness the denial of climate change in the U.S. The numbers get worse and worse, while the deniers sound increasingly confident there's "nothing to worry about."
Globally, however, people are scared. Recently the Economist reported that in most of the world's surveyed nations climate change is regarded as the number one or two national security threat.
They know it’s not going to happen. The head of the EPA tells them it’s a hoax. The chief scientist of the Agriculture Department tells them it’s a hoax. The head of the Interior Department tells them it’s a hoax. The president of the nation trumpets the same fake news.
So here is a modest proposal. To demonstrate conclusively that we have cancelled fear of the Apocalypse the Federal government can crowdfund (no hit to the budget deficit) coal stoves for every Congressional and Cabinet Office. The finest, cleanest, most efficient coal stoves can be installed to warm a politically harsh Washington winter. Leaders and bureaucrats of all parties can unitedly imbibe the spirit of Abraham Lincoln, who faced down an apocalyptic Civil War.
Strategically sited, high tech coal stoves can help prove to all Americans that fantasy is greater than reality. Except we already know that.
Don’t worry, be happy.