The Signs Are Everywhere

The Metro in Washington DC has recently installed fancy new turnstiles. Shiny metal and bright green or red electronic notices flashing. Forget that underneath, trains are operating on a delayed schedule – resembling more the Trans-Siberian Railway than the artery moving people under the imperial capital. The nice new cars were pulled almost a year ago for want of maintenance – returning the aged mothballed units again to service, rickety and creaking and stained. God help you if you miss your train – your extended stay underground enlivened by the smell of urine and the antics of the riffraff who hopped the same shiny turnstiles to find warmth or diversion or free passage on their journeys to nowhere.

While above ground, we have Google Maps to navigate us where we need to go, eschewing the terrible ordeal of the Metro. We no longer even have to know the way. We will be graciously guided along our path – we can even choose the gentle voice of our shepherd! Of course, still rolling along a road not any better really than Roman roads of yore, upon a wheel invented deep in the days of antiquity which we still count on – whatever happened to the transporters we were promised? Oh sure we go a little faster – burning dead dinosaurs for motive power, as did our great grandparents. At least it’s not whale oil, right? But what about electric cars? Charged mysteriously through the socket in our wall – we don’t have to think about where the current comes from – most likely dead dinosaurs, with a little bit of wind mixed in sometimes, when it is not frozen over or listless. The source is farther away – out of sight, out of mind, out of guilt. 

Do you remember the days we went to the moon? Before even the computer? Ya, we can’t do that anymore. We were supposed to be to Mars by now – or farther; Titan’s methane oceans – maybe even beyond. We still make $300,000,000 movies about it. Matt Damon in 3D – maybe meeting an alien or saving the pretty lady. Actual investment – in actual propulsion systems – for actual interstellar travel? Who cares as long as Jeff Bezos can fly his huge dead-dinosaur-powered phallus into the stratosphere for a few minutes. We all love a good show.

Today we can don a pair of uncomfortable goggles and dive into the metaverse – just please keep your $&@$:@“ mask on while you do it. Who knows, your avatar might even find a hot girl and you don’t even have to brush your teeth or comb the Cheetos out of your hair. Just take care to not get fake raped in there, you might have fake trauma and have to see a fake shrink. 

We have stalled out, and not for a lack of dead dinosaur juice. Maybe we have reached the limits of human comprehension. Maybe we’ve gotten as far as physics will take us. The rest may be out there – the truth may be out there –  but we won’t ever be able to do the math that makes element 115 stable; will never square gravity with relativity and quantum mechanics; will fail in our half-hearted attempts to figure out cold fusion; might not even understand entropy and why it is that at a quantum level there is no difference between the future and the past.

What we’ll do instead is cower under paper masks in the hopes of avoiding a cold. We’ll rage at the effectiveness of vaccines 500 years after people scraped smallpox puss from their slightly-ill neighbors in the hopes of an easy immunity. We’ll keep mono-cropping our chemical doused fields while repeating “green revolution” over and over to scare away the ghost of Malthus, scarfing down a saturated-fat dripping cow burger fed with the sludge of other cows. Or we’ll wander out beyond the scarred landscape into the increasingly scarce wilderness to shoot an animal we don’t need to eat, with a 500 year old technology hurling small pieces of metal using a powder invented in pre-historic China. 

Oh but by all means, let’s be progressive. Let’s pretend DNA doesn’t matter. That boys can be girls and girls can be swans. Let’s forget the binary nature of our world – who really wants to reproduce anymore, after all? Aren’t our populations collapsing anyway? We can’t be bothered with children – too busy watching “The Bachelor” in between commercials telling us how to buy chemicals that can help people shit who can’t; sleep who can’t; be happy who can’t; wake up who can’t; get it up who can’t – or maybe buy that metaverse goggle, cuz )$@@;$ it, right!!!!!???

Our world really isn’t doing so well – and we the dumbasses aren’t really “winning” much anymore. Maybe we’ve exhausted our ability to reverse engineer that ship that crashed in Roswell, and we built what we were gonna be able to. One thing is for sure – the aliens certainly aren’t going to help us with “technology transfer”. They certainly don’t want our kind out and about the universe.

Not that I blame them.

Everything is cyclical. Things rise and then fall away leaving only ancient skeletons of past greatness; the pyramids and Tiwanaku. This is how cycles end – not in a bang but in front of “The View”. Sometimes there is a breakthrough through which we might attain the stars – who knows, our moment might have been when we eschewed Tesla for Edison and as such abandoned our future. But it will come back around – maybe in another 12,000 years. Maybe that time we’ll get it right.

About Joel D. Hirst

Joel D. Hirst is a novelist and a playwright. His most recently released work is "Dreams of the Defeated: A Play in Two Acts" about a political prisoner in a dystopian regime. His novels include "I, Charles, From the Camps" about the life of a young man in the African camps and "Lords of Misrule" about the making and unmaking of a jihadist in the Sahara. "The Lieutenant of San Porfirio" and its sequel "The Burning of San Porfirio" are about the rise and fall of socialist Venezuela (with magic).
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5 Responses to The Signs Are Everywhere

  1. Alex Martini says:

    Joel, this went straight to my soul. Wow. Yes.


  2. It seems as though those who think deeply….all arrive at this theme. The trick is to see the truth but not submit to the dark. We walk a razor edge. I appreciate your thoughts….as always.


  3. Pingback: The Approaching Event | Joel D. Hirst's Blog

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