It’s hilarious, how disconnected I’ve become from the land. I never spent enough time on my grandparent’s farm in North Dakota to learn how to work the earth. I know it takes the power of a tractor and steel blades, moldboard and share, to break the dirt into furrows, nice neat rows, lift the sod so that it tumbles back upside down. But then what? At what point do you put seeds in? How do you get those seeds put in? Is there a machine for that? What if the weather is crazy, too wet, too dry, and all that effort is for nothing, nothing grows, it comes up withered and weird, or the hail gets it, or the bugs, or the deer, how do you eat?
It’s mostly all frakked land now anyway. Would I even want to grow anything there? Would I even want to live there? What water would I drink?
So suppose it happens, the economy tanks, money disappears, the currency in my wallet means nothing, it’s just paper with pictures on it, and the money in the bank, which is just numbers, just pixels in a computer, is rendered null and void. No food on the grocery shelves. Hungry people roaming the streets, armed with guns and knives. What then?
Costco sells an American Red Cross 72-hour food kit. It contains 2,100 calories per day for each of four people. Items enclosed include brown sugar and cinnamon oatmeal, macaroni and cheese, cheddar broccoli rice, chicken flavored vegetable stew, hearty potato soup, and creamy cinnamon rice pudding. But what do you do when the 72 hours are up? Does anything grow in 72 hours? Should I get my .22 repaired? Could I kill and prepare a squirrel for eating? How close are we, exactly, to that kind of scenario? And I’m just talking about economic collapse, not nuclear holocaust. We don’t have a bomb shelter in our house. I don’t think getting under the bed would help much. It’s odd, a kind of amazing Zen joke, that one’s life should dangle from a thread at the caprice of a lunatic imbecile like Donald Trump. Every minute or so comes the phrase: I’m still here. I’m still here. I’m still here. It’s like the beating of a heart, the systole of amazement, the diastole of acceptance. The back and forth of anguish and resignation.
Consciousness doesn’t find it easy to accept non-existence. It’s hard to imagine. How can you think non-existence? You can’t think non-existence and expect to feel non-existence. You can only experience non-existence by not existing.
Until I wrote this, it did not exist, and so by writing it into existence, I have destroyed its prior condition and given it a new condition, which is hypothetical, and pieced together by combination and art. But if you were to ask me why, what is your intent in doing this, I couldn’t say, it won’t alter the conditions of the world, or prevent the madness of nuclear war. It’s a momentary diversion, think of it that way. It’s a rain drop running down a window in a hurricane. What is the meaning of life? I don’t know.
Nothing is not; it nihilates itself. Being in the world is something different. Being in the world is being in relation to things. Being presupposes a purpose, and that’s where everything goes awry, falls of the table, and bounces into the hallway, where Jean-Paul Sartre appears with a bag of groceries, slips on it, and falls, spilling his groceries.
Fresh Manila clams, tomatoes, corn chips, peanut butter, popcorn.
I like to make things up as I go along and suspend them in freedom, as Plato does, where he makes the image of the absent one appear on the margin of his perception, like a sprint to the lake on a really hot summer day.
There are over 23,000 nuclear warheads currently in existence, more than enough to destroy the world.
And here I am listening to Blondie sing “Heart of Glass” and drying the bedsheets as if anything still mattered, life, civilization, poetry, art, law, purpose, pliers, pizza, olives.
Olives. Now there’s a fruit. Is it a fruit? Yes. Olives are drupes: they have a fleshy outside with a pit in the center. The pit is a seed. In Britain, it’s called a stone. The Dutch call it an Olijfput.
Olives in mythology: “According to Greek mythology, the creation of the olive tree was the result of a contest between Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, and Poseidon, God of the Sea, as to who would become the protector of a newly built city in Attica (the historical region of Greece).”
But what good does it do, if I ain’t got you?
Or a place to live. Something like a habitable planet. Round, sweet, marbled and wet. Something within the Goldilocks Zone.
The Goldilocks Zone is what scientists consider to be the habitable zone in the range of orbits around a star within which a planetary surface can support liquid water given an adequate atmospheric pressure. Ask a scientist what is the nearest habitable, earth-like planet and you will not get a direct, specific answer. You’ll get analogies and probabilities and multiple uses of the magical word “if.”
Best answer is an 85% probability that there are habitable planets near Alpha Centauri, which is 4.367 light years from Earth. Do we have enough gas to get there? Probably not. Are there filling stations along the way? Probably not. Are we currently, as it is, kind of fucked? Yes.
But, you know, like they say, it ain’t over till the fat lady sings.