The Desire and the Doom

We interrupt our regular programming for a moral advisory

It is no longer the Time of the Assassins, children. The bullet that killed the Kennedys, Martin and Malcolm X and widowed Yoko Ono – those missiles have broken into a mist. A rainstorm of metal has frozen in mid-air, each pixilated drop reflects back a fabulous seduction, a super-mall in a seed.

AH, THE LULLABY OF EVIL! You think the air in the city is polluted? The air in the city is agog with lurid painted eyes and that’s fine, but then there’s the part of my brain that needs a rest to have an original thought. What’s that, up there on that great wall above me? IS THAT ANOTHER UNASKED-FOR SECONDARY EROGENOUS ZONE? Amen... Oh, is it the 40-foot tall cost-effective, wholesale UMA THURMAN? Uma with a vengeance? And oh, I am a sinner. And yes, my desire is in league with Uma, my desire turns on me, desires me like a predator, then hates me, then is bored with me and dumps me, and I am left gaping anonymously on the curb with a mental erection, unable to move forward. I need Vaseline just to cross the street.

LET US PRAY. We ask the God-That-Is-Not-A-Product. We ask the Goddess-Who-Swims-In-The-Part-Of-The-Sky-Not-YetSlapped-With-Plastic-Logos: is it possible that the end of the world has come and gone unnoticed? We are feeling strange. It is the Time of Dullness. Give us a sign. Amen.

Well, maybe the END OF LIFE was discovered by some R&D department, and so it became a formatted bullet-point presentation to investors, and went into production. This is a decision-making process that has eaten democracy alive and is called PRODUCT MOMENTUM. Unfortunately, the apocalypse, as virulent as it seems, is just lost in the inventory, lost in the blur of globalised bric-a-brac, in the tulips from Israel in the holds of jets, in the dog food that shoots like water down a glass-walled canyon through 70 countries, zig-zagging for the exchange breaks.

The end of the world hasn’t been so constantly referenced since the Dark Ages. It must be here somewhere. One is tempted to pose with furrowed brow, studying the horizon like a method actor searching for darkness, like Deep Impact, like Independence Day, like The Day After Tomorrow. But doomsday is more ordinary than that, more like forgetting to re-cycle this week. As shamanism guru Terrence McKenna once said, the end of the world is an average family, seated together on a couch watching a now-dead celebrity confessing a mild kink on a talk show. The family is dead also, but mom and dad and Suzy and Bud are sitting erect, corpses in a perfect row, with their knees tastefully clamped together AND THEIR EYES ARE WIDE OPEN.

Well, my eyes are open too, I’ll tell you. And here’s a newspaper, and what do I read? Here, look at this little four-paragraph item. The headline starts ‘New Global Study Indicates…’ and goes on to announce that the most extensive survey of the condition of the earth, conducted by more than a thousand researchers from 95 countries, has just published its conclusions after two years of study. Two thirds of the planet’s ecosystems are compromised, extinction spikes are hacking silent springs in the fragrant surface of our blue and white rock. The piece ends with a polite suggestion that we alter our consumption. Well, STOP SHOPPING!

Is it just me, or do all the flags seem lately down at half-mast, just ALL THE TIME. We still think that mass death is in the logic of our species’ interior decoration, and can be expunged by some kind of last-moment wisdom. But DON’T TOUCH MY FETISH, IF YOU PLEASE. At some point we got the big suicide mixed up in our Spring Clearance Sale. WHAT? WHAT DID I BUY? Children, listen to me. The story of how life must die – yeah. IT SURE IS DRAMATIC. Oh, you can sell a lot of tickets to that! But when it comes to the earth dying, you want to somehow know when what you are experiencing is not art, is not your financials, is not sex, is not a ‘scare’, is not a story at all – it’s not even a tragedy. When the nothingness comes, it doesn’t take the time to tell us that we squandered our only gift.

Meanwhile, isn’t this amazing? We’ve been given another spring. Amen.


This article first appeared in the Ecologist May 2005

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