Apocalypse Now

I realise, weary from work on the bus back from Glasgow, surrounded by the vaccine-injured (many of whom don’t know it, yet) that I’m living in a dystopian gothic graphic novel.

I was forced to take the subway today, because the trains and buses are infrequent because of the pingdemic, and in that fetid tube I was the only one unmasked. Young women virtuously touched their masks as if to reassure themselves that they were still following orders and young men glanced at me in resentful envy. Anyone who wears a mask is probably vaccinated, although there are exceptions. The devastation of democracy is quite plain to see. It’s the biomedical harms that are hidden. Censored, still to come or explained away.

My revelation on the bus (I can hardly call it enlightenment) is strangely reassuring. I’ve been having problems with my eyes. Too much time on Telegram, Twitter and Zoom. I feel now that, psychosomatic or just metaphorical, I had trouble seeing what was right before my eyes.

We’re already living in Dystopia. It’s not a location or a state of the nation that’s a journey away in space or time. It’s here, now, and so are we. The old have already been isolated, scared and starved and drugged to a lonely despairing death. The working adult population, starting from those in health, and safety, have largely, uninformed, been recruited for experiment. The elite among our athletes, taking one or two or three for the team, are dropping like flies. The youth they got with promises of nightclubs, and free pizza, and are having heart attacks. Women cannot bear their young and now the needle turns to children – and plans are set for tots. Many have already died, vaccinated “by accident”. It’s all data. There’s no such thing as a failed experiment.

There are 4 coherent reactions to totalitarianism:

  1. Deny its existence, temporarily and in vain, with drink or drugs or sex.
  2. Seek to flee the system and live “off-grid”.
  3. Give in, completely, knowing or not knowing it will kill you and those you love.
  4. Resist and, inevitably, compromise.

My choice is the last and though I understand the second, and the first, I don’t believe that escape is either possible or advisable. Foucault, that most useless of academics, especially when his lyrical playful French is translated into earnest English pedantry, has come into his own. Creator of the biosecurity surveillance state, by opposing it, he is the icon of contrarian ambiguity.

Citizen Smith, Neo, Max, V, Offred, all resist the system whether they also conform or comprise. Each of us must find the level of compromise and means of resistance we’re comfortable with and I suggest that castigating others for a different ratio is simply to squander our already-depleted energy. What these diverse characters have in common is that they, always or eventually, realise the state they’re in. The constant stream of trivia, even the constant stream of useful but repetitive information on resistance sites, diverts us from the bleak but fundamentally liberating realisation that we are quite literally in a state of hidden civil war.

“Hidden” is one translation of “occult” and “revelations” translates “apocalypse”. It doesn’t surprise me that many people, discerning a demonic power behind the corporate callousness, are turning to prayer. I also find strength in that but I’m aware that not all of our current destructive chaos is caused by malevolence. Some of it, I have learned from the late Robert M. Pirsig, is caused by indifference.

Pirsig’s solution involves us awaking from our somnambulant stupor, vaguely applying spanners to the machinery of either capitalism or communism, and to take responsibility for all our relations. In a word, to care.

That’s not a bad way to begin the resistance and it’s a very good way to live, eschewing both Utopia and Dystopia as inhuman (and ultimately identical) and settling for the humdrum human flesh-and-blood situation where the creations we dream up from nuts and bolts may not solve all of our problems—but they also don’t turn out to be nightmares.

1984 spray-painted in black on a grey wall

Thanks to PDF for releasing the image 1984 Nineteen Eighty Four Graffiti into the Public Domain.