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Tuesday, September 6

It's dated, but up to date.

A Letter to Peter of Lone Tree

In a post published today [June 15, 2009] at the Dark Wraith Publishing online property Big Brass Blog, contributing writer Peter of Lone Tree quotes from author Chris Hedges' recent article, "The American Empire Is Bankrupt," which paints a brutally grim picture of the death spiral of the United States economy and the coming deprivations its non-elites will suffer.

Good evening, Peter of Lone Tree.

Although I greatly enjoy the writings Chris Hedges has published on American religious extremism, his apocalyptic vision of the future of the American economy is generous to a fault and parochial to a rather unexemplary era and its uninspired citizens.

We have received what essayist Jonathan Schell describes as "An Invitation to a Degraded World," and we have accepted it. The acceptance has come in each election from 2000 to the present, and that includes the presidential election last year.

We cannot help ourselves: we embrace the folly of reactionism, and Brand X of the Left is seen as a viable substitute for Brand X of the Right. In the end, the candidates of one company are pretty much the same as those of the other. Duopolies offer choice only to those who have forgotten that choice includes the option, "No."

On we trod, though, into a future not as good as that of our parents.

But not really. I lived through bad times when I was growing up. The death of my father at the end of the '60s was a metaphor for a world and a nation on the precipice of upheavals I did not understand; but, then again, hardly anyone else did either, and the particulars of my circumstances of a degraded world were not the cause of the plight in which my mother and I found ourselves. The truth of the matter is that life was becoming a changed thing for many people way back then.

And before my time, life was becoming a changed thing for the people who had lived to see the turn of the last century, too.

And before their time, life was becoming a changed thing for the people who had lived to see the time after that war between the states.

And before their time, life was becoming a changed thing for the people who had lived to see the dawn of the 19th Century.

And before their time...

You get the picture.

The future is an invitation to a degraded world, a lesser thing, always packaged in the new, the better, the not-old-and-worn-out. Our walk to that place has become a breath-taking sprint, even as we curse the landscape as it becomes more ominous, more barren, more foreboding.

We look back and cannot help but imagine in the time before now a sun higher in the sky, a world less confusing because we know how the story went. The future is a story not told and, therefore, not known. We are never ready for it; and now, as we run at full speed into its maw, we have no means by which to prepare ourselves, much less to prepare that place in which we shall spend the remainder of our days.

If it is of any comfort, though, we do know the part about how bad it's going to be there in that future. It is the place where the ones we love die, the ways we once lived are gone, and the joys we had are faded to the stuff of sadly fleeting dreams about which we can tell no one because no one cares.

The past is about ghosts we knew: they speak through our individual and collective memories.

The future is about ghosts we can only imagine: mostly, they speak through our individual and collective fears.

Times really are going to get rough. I have written many articles about what is coming, and I have now lived long enough to note with a degree of satisfaction that my predictions, economic and otherwise, are being proved accurate. A quite general article of mine about the future is one entitled, "The 21st Century, Epilogue." I took a more metaphorical approach in my story, "The End of Time."

So many people do not listen, though. They have to hear ghosts for themselves. That means they'll have to wait, just like they have for generation after generation; and when they see the future in all its ugliness, they'll wonder why it had to be that way.

Perhaps a few people in that time will notice something particularly awful about those ghosts to come, as terrible as they'll be as they stand before us in the plain sight of that degraded world out there just after tomorrow's sunset: those ghosts of the future will look an awful lot like us.

Right now, as we stand here on the edge of tomorrow accepting that invitation to which we just cannot say, "No," we ensure that ours will be the grave from which will usher that sullen place — that awful, degraded world — of apocalypse and misery otherwise called the future.

We never learn, do we?

The Dark Wraith has spoken. [From The Dark Wraith Forums of June 15, 2009.]

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