The end in sight…

Last night, i went with a friend to the beach.
The few squid boats that sailed out were returning early, around 8ish.
We’d found a low bench outside the perimeters of society’s light & with a bottle of soju, a box of kimchi & veggie pancake, talked our tired into something productive & admired the uncommon sight of a few printed constellations.

We somehow got onto conspiracy theories & my friend, not knowing much about them, asked “why do they believe in such things.” Being Korean she’s had little exposure to what is, to my mind, a very Western phenomenon.

i outlined (roughly) Foucault’s power-knowledge: holding & creating the codes & keys to knowledge; there is no power without knowledge.
But, what is the control conspiracy theorists have? It is that they know something important, have tirelessly awakened to something we don’t understand, or more accurately can’t see as it is “hidden in plain sight”. They do what they do for our benefit, turning them into a conduit of truth— they’re on a moral track; fulfilling a duty to the survival of open, free society.

Going off the subject it dawned on me how erroneous we are to assume problems, with such wide reaching, immense scales can have any end in sight.

Let’s say for instance that every system of governance, politics, philosophy, religion,ideology is in itself a timeline, plotted, deterministically, in progress, towards a fateful moment in the lives of the collective that follow it & by extension (through survival of the fittest) compelling everyone else to fall in line to this track, seeing the benefit (as the adherent or faithful would see it).

Isn’t this ridiculous? It brings into sharp focus all our reasons behind why we cherish ideas, why they become personal, character shaping.
i’d say a good many people believe that what is an all encompassing process for them, seeing as, in reality, it exits in tandem with other processes, means it is unlikely there is a singular destiny. Numerous processes, always in motion together, has been the vital matter of man. Ideologies conflict with ideologies.

Our history, our ideas, are not necessarily a process of trial & error to eventually discover suitable methods for going forward to some fateful day when everything is corrected to a set of tracked demarcations. We have no destiny.
Things happened, but not for a reason.

Even peace is an ideology. There will never be peace. Never. Nor will there be a day where evil triumphs & nothing but war fills the world.
The liberal, the conservative, republican or democratic agenda will never win over an entire population. The likes of dystopian fiction will never be realized in their total form.
i’ll go ahead & wager the same for ecological issues, the world won’t end with a bang or whimper, it’ll hobble on, inconceivable moments of change may occur, but what ever volume of human content stubbornly rises against the back hand of its own stupidity, will adapt & humankind will plod on, forgetting, then becoming the mythopoeic madmen we all are, at heart & do best with our easy hearsay.

What does it mean to realize this?
For me, this is not about persuading anyone. This will not enlighten you.
i once believed, years ago, that the logical end (all evil would need to play out for this to happen) of humanity’s crises, was to just end up fully, organically understanding good; this was the only method of living that made sense. There is no waste in good, except the loss of bad.
Evil, corruption, always sacrifice something, create hardships & pain, which is wasted energy.
If there is peace & prosperity, would we really be more human by denying our coarser, more violent natures? i don’t know if this is cogent or an easy thing for good people to accept, i doubt it.
i know for me, this realization of no end in sight, emancipates me from the track of that end.
i can, with George Saunders, be free to just like everything; or not so much like, as accept it being outside my influence yet remaining within my control; if only the control is an alteration of the context of my capacity to influence. This comes frightfully close to sounding like ignorance of the difference between right & wrong, but in reality is it is a realization of limits.

Would i end world hunger, the deaths of children, the slavery of teenage girls if it meant i had to kill a single man, even a room full of evil men with the click of a lever? Sure. Sorry fellas, you’re for the chop.
However, that is a foolish thought experiment & life just isn’t that simple. The exception to the rule seldom becomes the rule.

Why this public act initiates me into some personal collusion with myself, i don’t know, it feels necessary somehow; sort of like the symbolic act of cutting the Gordian knot.
i think Wallace Stevens’ final line from his poem Parochial Theme “Piece the world together, boys, but not with your hands.” sums up what i am trying to say here. To build something with your hands means an end in sight, the mental world is always going to get revised & emotions are not built with your hands.
Oddly, i’ve never been happier with chaos. The next step is deciding what that means— i suspect, it doesn’t mean anything other than i am finally human.

10 thoughts on “The end in sight…

  1. “The likes of dystopian fiction will never be realized in their total form.”

    Too late. The reality is already way ahead of fiction! Although the dystopia is, for all that, fairly subtle. That’s the trouble, you see – being born into it we simply accept it as normality. One of two of us occasionally wake up and shout “I am John Savage!” or “I am Winston Smith!” but the worst they do to us for that is section us.

    The greatest work of satire of the 20c – George Orwell’s ‘1984’ – is based entirely on existing political and social phenomena he personally observed. And he foresaw both the Stockholm syndrome and the surveillance culture. Pretty good going, I think.

      1. “You can’t experience directly what you are not aware of” – there is something deeply wrong about that statement. I think it lies somewhere in the definition of terms.

        However, take the dystopia of ‘Brave New World’. As readers we had the privilege of dramatic irony, by virtue of standing outside, clicking our tongue at Mustapha Mond, Bernard Marx, and the Arch-Community-Songster of Canterbury, and at the idea of soma and the feelies, whilst the characters in the book rejoiced in their world, took it all for granted. Their experience WAS direct, although they were unaware of their slavery to a culture and to its tyranny. In what way is that any different from our own experience of being fooled by the culture(s) we inhabit? That is the whole essence of a dystopia.

        Here is a TV drama from 1968. Watch it all the way through, and when you get to the end credits you will suddenly realise what is being played over them.

      2. i see your point. ‘Directly’ is the wrong word. However, i still stand by the relativity of experience to reality. i can’t see a way around this. That initiates the multiplicity of narratives in our world.
        However, i feel we have strayed from my original intention in the essay, which is to examine how ideas of an end in sight cannot have any valuable meaning or be general or universal, owing to them not being the only one. There are multiple narrative threads playing out at the same time; we don’t have just the dystopian thread playing out.

        Will Self on top form, two dystopias battle it out, sort of illustrating my point. When even dystopias don’t agree, it is difficult to agree the end in sight.

      3. I think I was trying to express the thought that a dystopia is a dystopia because people simply accept it as normality. Usually because they have little or no experience of anything else against which to measure it. When someone realises that it is a dystopia, at that moment it ceases to be one and effectively becomes a revolutionary situation (even if that revolution fizzles out unnoticed).

        Sorry for taking you (even) further from your intended argument.

        “… ideas of an end in sight cannot have any valuable meaning or be general or universal, owing to them not being the only one…” Really, again, we need to define terms. Also we need to consider that human perception does not have as tight a hold on ‘reality’ as we like to think, and in fact that makes one wonder if ANYTHING we dream up has any ‘valuable meaning’.

      4. Now this i can agree with “When someone realises that it is a dystopia, at that moment it ceases to be one and effectively becomes a revolutionary situation (even if that revolution fizzles out unnoticed).” But i would still say this only becomes a one man revolution, until they persuade others. This is the privileged position we immediately take reading dystopian fiction. We know it is dystopian & then apply our reading to our world (if we are even capable of this.)

        Again, your speaking of dreams only bares fruit if the dreamer has any context for understanding a dream’s relevance as a potential reality. Even hope, has the same problem when all seems hopeless, look at some of the interviews with Russians in the early 90s.

        (i want to clarify that i do think there are dystopian elements in society, that there are certainly parallels in works of fiction, but that it is the relativity of those collectively experiencing these realities who influence the unreality, who make it difficult to point & say this is a reality. Fake news to me is proof of this muddying of truth. )

  2. Marie drew my attention to your debate above, asking whether I would like to comment. Yes I would, but at the moment I’m part-way through writing a dissertation. Give me until the weekend, and I’ll listen to the debate about Huxley and Orwell, and I might be persuaded to compose a blog article for ‘Taxonomy Domine’.

    1. … but now that I have watched the video, I’m wondering whether to bother, as my (foregone) conclusion was, as expressed by members of the audience, both books have something of continuing validity to offer. I’ll give this some thought.

    1. Glad that anything i write provokes further discussion & further writing. i never consider my essays complete. They are open to ridicule, revision & praise in equal measure. Thanks for sharing your efforts.

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