Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The Final Solution: The Day the Earth Stood Still

Youth is wasted on the young goes the old saw. The homily might be modified as the memory of civilization when the earth seemed bright and fresh and there was a feeling of possibility and even innocence  is wasted on the young. Of course, humankind has always gone through periods of great affliction, but the current perfect storm of massive wildfires in the West, the comorbidity of racial and economic inequality and coronavirus  (that is being met with denial by a very healthy part of the population who regard fear itself as a QAnon plot), multiple hurricanes, and a president who threatens to actually destroy democratic institutions (imagine The White House changed into The House of Trump) all create a wistful nostalgia for even periods like the 50s when nuclear Armageddon threatened. As one sails past the empty office buildings of Madison and Park Avenue in Manhattan and confronts the empty hulk of Cornelius Vanderbilt’s Grand Central, one longs for former ages when the world was falling apart in ways that were still imaginable. Louis Pasteur, Alexander Fleming, and Jonas Salk all produced life saving vaccines, but will anyone really come forth with a shot which will deal with corona and all its possible mutations? Are the charred ruins of a land mass equal to New Jersey betokening the fact that climate change has crossed a new threshold of uncontrollability. Could this be it? Boccaccio wrote The Decameron which depicted a group of aristocrats amusing themselves with tales while waiting for the plague to pass. Has the point come where there won’t be enough Netflix series to carry us through the long period of danger that lies ahead and threatens to close down the world entirely?

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