Sun 15 Mar 2009
Pushing through the market square, so many mothers sighing
News had just come over, we had five years left to cry in
News guy wept and told us earth was really dying
He cried so much his face was wet, then I knew he was not lying
i think i have post-cultural depression.
you may not have heard of this bleak state of affliction – i, uh, just coined it – but you might still be suffering more than you think. symptoms may vary…but one minute you’re bumbling along, feeling like you belong to a people, a history, a place in time, and the next the whole ass-end has dropped off the cart and you notice that you’re living in a shallow, consumerist, spectacle-feeding pond-bottom where people are irrationally attached to a whole myriad of contradictory and self-sabotaging behaviors, including but not limited to bikini waxing and reckless use of Hummers. the cacophony of mud-slinging from all sides starts to buzz in your ears and you begin to despair of common ground or cohesion or any kind of future whatsoever for a species so Babel-stricken and though you’re definitely not the millenarian type you begin to wonder, really wonder. you avert your eyes from the world, then, stick fingers in your ears and sing “lalala can’t HEAR you” but it all leaks in anyway. and it chills you to your bones, because for a split second you can see through time and your time looks like nothing so much as Roman ruins in waiting, a diorama of the blithe deaf and blind.
people with post-cultural depression can be found hunched frozen over their Twitter keyboards, at a loss to condense boundless terror and angst into 140 characters or less.
I heard telephones, opera house, favourite melodies
I saw boys, toys electric irons and t.v.s
My brain hurt like a warehouse, it had no room to spare
I had to cram so many things to store everything in there
we watched a documentary on Antarctica and the polar seas, and the conclusion of most of the scientists onscreen is that we’re doomed. the vanguard of biologists and ocean experts suspect the tipping point is probably past and we’re on our way to climate change so significant that major extinctions are likely.
and all i could think about was the two little kids sleeping upstairs.
watched another documentary on the 1937 ‘Rape of Nanking’, and a three-minute scene of an elderly man describing firsthand the death of his mother and baby brother by bayonet made me break down sobbing. man’s inhumanity to man, same old song, seventy-odd years ago but i know it unfolds everywhere in every war and i hear there are wolves at the door, destruction in the air.
A girl my age went off her head, hit some tiny children
If the black hadnt’ve pulled her off, I think she would have killed them
A soldier with a broken arm, fixed his stare to the wheels of a Cadillac
A cop knelt and kissed the feet of a priest, and a queer threw up at the sight of that
because i have these children, see? a cliché, damn straight, but all this shit threatening to hit the fan, all this horror of human history, this waste, this helplessness…it’s them i see. them i am afraid for. i wonder what armageddon i’ve unleashed them into. i wonder if it’s not too late. i am the Tammy Faye Bakker of the agnostic-ish set, wandering around dripping mascara and clutching kleenexes and wailing, repent!!! who will think of the children?!?
perhaps need to stop watching documentaries. and, uh, all other forms of media.
this despair is not simple fear for my kids. i have that too…the death of one has made me neither immune nor more vulnerable to that bogeyman…just…acquainted. i can sit quietly with those fears, look them in the eye. but this is not lung failure or childhood cancer or a car accident or even predators…this is a fear beyond my kids’ individual lives and lifespans, a fear of the ultimate contract breach. i am afraid that they will have to contend with a world without a future.
and i will have to say, yeh, i, um, recycled. guess that helped, huh?
Your face, your race, the way that you talk
I kiss you, you’re beautiful, I want you to walk
maybe if i believed in an afterlife or much of anything, i’d be better with the whole prospect. but i’m reverent mostly to the shades and shadows of beauty and joy that filter down to us humans in our simple, incarnate selves…the baby laughing with her whole body, her brother’s goodnight litany that extends to every soul he’s ever met, the glances, tired and solemn, that pass between Dave & i as we struggle through another half-sleepless breakfast still as present as we can be to this thing we’re doing as a family, the sound of that last high, harmonic note in the final verse of The Band’s The Weight. i’m a sucker for this whole heritage of being human thing. and i’m scared we’re fucking it irrevocably up. right now, just in time for the two little people sleeping upstairs to reap the whirlwind.
the sorrow and shame of that possibility sits on me like a whole other skin.
perspective is hard to get out here on the misty slough of despond. part of me hopes maybe i’ve just finally unhinged, and need to go gnash my teeth and rend my garments and maybe spend a few years sitting atop a forty-foot pole like the crazy doom-saying prophets of old…hell, their worlds seldom ended, at least not like they’d foretold.
part of me hopes that all this fear is part of a process of learning how to change, maybe even drastically enough to make a difference. part of me hopes someone out there will say, me too. and this is what helps…
part of me hopes somebody invents a Prozac for this malady and fast, so i can stop looking at my offspring like poor doomed children. it’s bad for discipline.
We’ve got five years, stuck on my eyes
Five years, what a surprise
We’ve got five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, thats all we’ve got
– Five Years, David Bowie (first released the year before i was, um, born)