It’s not even about music sometimes. It’s just the soundscape. Music? That can be secondary to anything but with some of the more minimalist ambient productions, why not cut out the music altogether? That’s what we have here, really. It would have been easy enough to use all this as the bed and built subtle melodies over it, but that’s missing something in the end. That’s more about exerting control and this sounds like a place where control has been lost, or surrendered.
I often wonder what our fascination with apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic themes in our art, film and literature is about. What it’s come down to, or as nearly as I might surmise, we have lived so long in existential dread of a horrible end that we all harbor a secret desire to just get it over with and all this is a projection of what moving on might be like. We’ve given up on the idea that we are in the driver’s seat and can prevent it, and now we’re just tired of waiting for the next boot to drop and we’re concerned with what happens next. Maybe it also gives us the opportunity to project ourselves into a hero’s journey, where we don’t have to simply wait for forces that have grown beyond our control to make us victims.
The 2020 pandemic could have been worse. That is not to dismiss the deaths of millions of people worldwide but mathematics tells us that millions die yearly anyway. The big switch-up in the Western Consciousness is that it happened in The West. That was new for us. Still, it didn’t really pan out as worldwide catastrophe. Daily life was not altered all that much for most of us. All that may still happen in 2021 and my argument from some months back that the real collapse has yet to happen still stands. I do wonder, for example, about the coming week and the progression to the exchange of power in Washington. What happens if he doesn’t let go and Congress throws us that curveball this week that postpones the transfer? Most people have written that off as highly improbably, and that’s most likely true, but… What could that trigger? There is a lot of uncertainty, and again, that prolonged, low-key, existential dread. It’s easy enough, after a while, to just say fuck it let’s get it over with and fight. So yes, just how apocalyptic might The Apocalypse be? We can only guess, so hence, the films and literature and music and audio effects.
The last twelve months have taught us that hard lesson that we can only pretend to be in control in the hope that others will believe there is a central control protecting us all, and keep the order of things going for a while longer. Any central power or strength is truly only a reflection of the weakness of everyone else. It’s all relative to whatever we haven’t seen or experienced yet and the fear of the unknown and uncertain. That’s how we live day to day, in the tenuous comfort that someone else, man or god, is watching over us… as long as we are good boys and girls and follow all the rules.
Culturally speaking, the only fantasy or projection as common or widespread or large as our visions of The Apocalypse (I think we project a post-Apocalypse mostly from the fear that the end truly will be the end.) is our continual fantasizing about a Utopian past that we can get back to if we all work together. Pandemic chatter was often about when things will “get back to normal.” Half the U.S. has been carrying on about making America Great again. In films people talk about rebuilding civilization, as if a civilized world would have destroyed itself to begin with. We live with an obsession of better times that never actually existed. How far in time would we have to go back to reach an optimal reboot spot?f More importantly, how will a society obsessed with falsehood not simply go back to that point and than repeat the same mistakes? Back to normal… No thanks.
So… January 1, 2021… we’ve just spent 9 1/2 months confronting uncertainty about our existence that we were in deep denial about leading up to the pandemic. I’m speaking only for The West, of course, because huge parts of the world have never known anything but existential threats. Some people behaved better than others. Some were exemplary of the best human traits. Some were absolute assholes. We got the whole mix, both ends of the spectrum and everything in between. I’ve no message for anyone on how to face the uncertainty of the coming year, except to accept that it’s all very uncertain. Strip it down to what you know for sure, like really know for sure, and give the rest to chance. Have no expectations and you’ll have many less disappointments. It’s not likely that this is the end of the end, but life will continue to be very different than it was a year ago. Have a good look at the image associated with the Youtube posted above. We’re not there yet.