Tag Archives: Existential dread

Jottings of Our “Interesting Times” Or, Existential Dread

September 15, 2016

Fantastic images I’ve seen today, the last of which was the sunset sky turning vivid orange over the islands to our west, half of the horizon almost aflame. Another amazing image: Raven’s Nest, the most dramatic gorges on the approach to Schoodic point, looking out at Cadillac Mountain.

Monday, November 7, 2016

From the near sublime to what a columnist referred to as dread.

I, too, have been obsessing about the election as have so many others.

It feels as if we could be approaching either some apocalyptic end time, or greater and greater freedom and even more of the changes we need. We are at a fateful turning point.

Britain, in angst, voted tor protest and woke up to realize they had destroyed their world, instead. They replaced it with something poorer and coarser. All the polls had assured Britons that Brexit would not be voted in; and then it was!

I admit I have been obsessing over events, issues, Trump’s inane declarations (have you noticed: his only competent sentences are declarative?), and finally, polls. I am a Bernie Democrat, and I will gladly vote for Hillary, considering the alternative, even though I’m not thrilled by some of her policies; I think she can be pressured to do the right things most of the time.

And Hillary will certainly attempt to promote positive change in gender relations, hopefully between white and minority groups and between ‘Americans’ and immigrants.

I’m a man, very hetero, but I try not to be sexist. I am my wife’s partner and I admire her for her wisdom, her writing and her deep beauty in herself. But I’m not perfect.

I’m also in sympathy with gender-bending. I like to cook and to do some of the cleaning. I also wear my own skirts, fashioned from worn-out pants, as well as Scottish kilts, on occasion. When it’s cold I’d prefer a monk’s robe to pants. I like to dress up more than my wife does. We neither of us wear make-up.

And yet, I enjoy manual labor. I’m getting too old to do as much as I used to: I brought in firewood for three houses from our own woods. Now, I might cut down a tree, cut it and split it, if I can transport it a few hundred feet uphill. I used to teach college, too.

I count myself as a skier, although last year I only skied once, because there was only enough snow one morning.

Which brings me to an even deeper reason why this election has wrought such anxiety: the climate is changing even more rapidly, and chaotically, than scientists’ worst predictions, while a significant part of our nation, and of our political class, believe climate change is a hoax and refuse to believe we should do anything to mitigate—well, if it’s a hoax, there’s no reason to do anything, is there?

The denial on the part of these elites seems transparently corrupt: fossil fuel companies pay their bills, especially their campaign bills. Denial among the angry white men following Trump? Denial may be an expression of anger over losing their primacy, may be a rejection of an active role for government: responding to climate change requires more government restraints or controls. It’s certainly thumbing noses at authority. “If the fuckin’ scientists say our trucks an’ stuff cause climate change, then fuck’em!”

Of course the corrupted elite benefit, when the angry white men follow their lead: fossil fuel companies reward them in every way they can.

So, not only are we poised on either, the end of democracy as we know it, or a future that could be a little better, we are poised between even more dramatic damage to the climate and accelerated attempts to lessen climate change. We have no time to lose.

How many times in the history of the world have people thought the end was coming? Sometimes it did, but we have never faced a problem so global, so potentially horrific as this one, when we are tipped on edge, not knowing which way we will fall.

I hope for the best, others fear for the worst, but we are none of us prepared if the worst does come to pass.