What We’ve Got Here is Failure to Imaginate

In the previous comment thread, Toddy Cat reminded:  Despair is a sin.  It’s a note to remember.  I often ponder our civilizational arc, always reaching highly infelicitous conclusions. It is only the general record of prognostication folly that keeps me from declaring the entire occidental enterprise undead:  And if done when ’tis done, then twere well it were done quickly.

Though a great deal of faith can be placed in our failure to foresee.  And that is because would-be seers eternally succumb to three forces:  tendency toward extrapolation, limitations of probability, and a lack of imagination.  The future is as alive as our scraps of legal parchment are dead.  It is for us to write the new pages–or watch from our museum exhibit as they are written about us.  And so I take some solace–the only presently available–in knowing that the desolate future I now consider most likely is perhaps as myopic as the similar certainty I would have held 100 years prior.

May 1914

I had the strangest interaction during lunch today.  A rather queer fellow of odd bearing and unplaceable accent perched himself to my side as if an alighting raven to squawk upon my shoulder.  I didn’t care for the intrusion but was bemused at his pompous offer to divine the future–a topic I am frankly of little in doubt.  Though without competing appointments I resigned to indulge the cretin for what humor it may provide the evening’s cordials.

so, “Please, have a seat…and do tell.” What a fanciful tale he told.  To paraphrase…

Some few years hence a new term will be conjured out of whole cloth.  It will be a weapon against which the West has no defense.  Not destructive ordnance or some malign machine.  Just a word…much like any other.  But one powerfully ensorcelled, no less.  A word that will cause the whole of western civilization–and absolutely no others–to rend itself asunder.  A word that will induce our ancient, rational, and leavened societies to cringe and grovel before the world’s basest denizens.  A word that will force retreat from every colony and even our own cities.  A word that by its merest whisper will hypnotize people into mass hysteria and cause their governments to fling open borders to millions of hostile aliens.  These newcomers will themselves in turn speak the trigger compelling our people into laboring for the provision of their every creature comfort.  Billions…trillions of dollars will be transferred at its invocation.  It will bring rich and powerful men to their knees and women to their backs. Individuals, communities, churches, and nations will march out of their own lands into oblivion to prove to…someone…for some reason…that they are not this made-up word.  And those who straggle behind the march will be subject to the vilest calumny from their enthralled peers.  It is a word that will ultimately turn London into Karachi.

And that’s about as much nonsense as I care to recall.  Obviously there is not one fraction of possibility out to 666 decimal places that this could possibly happen.  It is not worthy of further contemplation.

Western civilization is ascendant.  Confident and flourishing.  Our science, arts, architecture, and engineering beyond any feasible comparison.   Africa, India, the Middle East, and Dutch East Indies…we have planted our seeds across the globe and now watch them flower.  We cover distance in automobiles and caress the heavens in airplanes.  Intellectually, militarily, and spiritually we are health and vigor defined.  We are a people in full bloom.  The future is ours and a century from now our legends will be told under the light of distant stars.  Of this I am nearly certain.

And I also expect that Arch-Duke Ferdinand will quite enjoy his trip to Sarajevo next month.


3 thoughts on “What We’ve Got Here is Failure to Imaginate

  1. Maybe there is some consolation in the speed at which things are galloping towards a climax. You’d imagine it would be more prudent from the perpetrators’ point of view to conduct a non-violent revolution more patiently, taking a generation or more to consolidate each major step forward. The dizzying rate of progress of this one is unprecedented. There are things you could say ten years ago with impunity that would ruin you and drive you into hiding today. When the time comes, it should be easier to erase changes brought about that fast. For one thing, there’ll still be so many people around who can remember what life was like before the madness started.

  2. Pingback: Political economy as illustrated by Mayo Chiki | vulture of critique

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