Just skimmed, within a nausea-inducing vortex of hyper-vigilant irony, the tepid new George Saunders ditty in The New Yorker. The story is a dull contraption designed to give its readers the fantods about a post-Trumpian near-future in which one’s emails are routinely read by sinister forces (much like the experience of actual citizens of the past 20 years, and Now, then) and so forth. But reading Saunders’ bit of unintentional black humor, the dystopia didn’t feel like a post-Trumpian nightmare of one or two administrations hence… it felt like Life in a “liberal democracy” under CoronaVid next week. I could be denounced for writing that sentence.
I could end up paying a fine for it.
I can soon be accused, if I leave the flat, of walking around for an insufficiently good reason. The suggested fine for that is a totalitarian bargain of 25-75 Euros. Oh, wait: a party of two was already, just yesterday, denounced, by neighbors, for visiting the parents of one of the lawbreaking couple and these Enemies of Duh People were fined 200 Euros each. The Fools hadn’t tip-toed and whispered, you see.
Where and When do they think they are?
But: back to brave Saunders’ cautionary NYer tale in which he writes, in the ideally hackneyed device of a letter to the narrator’s grandson:
“Your grandmother and I (and many others) would have had to be more extreme people than we were, during that critical period, to have done whatever it was we should have been doing. And our lives had not prepared us for extremity, to mobilize or to be as focussed and energized as I can see, in retrospect, we would have needed to be. We were not prepared to drop everything in defense of a system that was, to us, like oxygen: used constantly, never noted. We were spoiled, I think I am trying to say. As were those on the other side: willing to tear it all down because they had been so thoroughly nourished by the vacuous plenty in which we all lived, a bountiful condition that allowed people to thrive and opine and swagger around like kings and queens while remaining ignorant of their own history.”
“Those on the other side”. It’s always those pesky, stupid, evil, deplorable, unappealing, non-infallible, unstylish, unlike-us, fuckers on the Other Side, isn’t it? It’s never US.
But did a mature writer craft that self-serving, hypocritical, vomit-inducing passage?
(I’m asking for a friend).
***On March 12, I posted on Fecebook:
We’re witnessing a Pandemic the like of which would have been inconceivable just two generations ago… !
What I’m talking about, of course, is a Global, Media-fed, Chicken-Little-Style Panic.
Oh, it’s a “Virus” alright. Because it’s Viral and spreading faster than a game of Chinese Whispers along the purpose-built Global Panic Network we call “Social Media”.
Logic + Experience + Serious Reading = the best Anti-Viral Medicines possible. Stay Safe by remaining Cogent.
Don’t be a Dupe.
(Oh and: don’t forget to stay warm and dry and wash your hands often because it really *is* Flu Season)
****On March 19th I posted, on Fecebook:
“If I wanted to infect a few generations of college sophomores with enough doubt regarding their own rights and needs and responsibilities, I would erode their basic sense of Self by undermining the Reality anchoring it. I would undermine their basic senses of Right and Wrong as inculcated during childhood. My aim in doing so would be to turn the electorate into a docile and malleable receptacle… a valley of blank slates, written-on-and-erased-and-re-written at will… open primarily to any message broadcast on a medium powerful enough to drown out and override competing messages, rendering the brute engineering fact of Power more important to the validity of any message than its inherent Logic or Factuality or Justice. Thereby gaining control over the External and Internal Spaces of our hypothetical valley of blank slates. Aka our children, children’s children and so on.
Well it’s a little distressing that although the high-camp baddies are not only Real (that word again) but out there in droves… the cinematic heroes who always saved the world, from the baddies, in those high-camp movies, are merely fantasies. James Bond, in real life, is merely another tool of the Baddies themselves.”
****On March 21st I posted on Fecebook:
“This Friday Berlin has also seen its first death from the Coronavirus. The deceased man was 95 years old and suffered from serious underlying illnesses, announced the Senat Department for Health.”
Uh… what? Is this an Ionesco play?
***This evening I posted the following on Fecebook:
Almost a month after the “pandemic” was announced Berlin mourns… uh… 13 dead. Average age 82 and all with “underlying health conditions”. Draconian measures are being rushed into existence to exploit the… I mean… to meet the challenge. George Orwell is spinning in his grave. But he’s laughing, too. Generating a sound uncannily like that of a siren. Make of that what you will (and how long before posts like this are punished with hefty fines… ?)
If that comment isn’t deleted soon (after the Thought Police “go back to work” at Facebook, after giving us rare little dissidents enough rope with which to hogtie ourselves) I’ll have to consider deleting it myself. If you aren’t a totally modern Idiot Of Convenience (and devotee of the depleted talent of that normative mouthpiece for hire, George Saunders) you’ll agree.
All three or four of you.
All Hail The New Fear,
PS Someone read this one today, reminding me that I’d written it: Not bad…!