Way back in good ol’ 1999, before Extropy was formed from the ashes of Dreamscape Unlimited, we used to have a sample recording of the William Yeats poem “The Second Coming” which we used in our live set. Sure, it was an illegally acquired sample but we didn’t care… Come and get us Sony! I always loved the poem and it captures the fragility of modernity in a way that few words ever have: “Things fall apart, the center does not hold.”
As someone who has been labeled a modern age “Cassandra” and a purveyor of dystopian musics for two decades, it would be easy for me to say ” I told ya so.”
The current COVID-19 crisis was predictable, but not necessarily preventable. However, the scale and scope of the crisis is being exacerbated by numerous conditions that are a byproduct of the way we have structured our societies.
First – over the last two decades (and even much longer than that), inequality has skyrocketed as an unfettered capitalist system allowed those at the top suck up more and more of the world’s wealth while those at the bottom suffer. In a catastrophe, those at the top are more concerned about self-preservation than anything else, so the rest of us be damned. The elite who knew about the risk the virus presented and did nothing dumped their stocks and warned their friends in advance.
Second – the destruction of habitat around the world and the urbanization of areas previously inhabited by wild animals creates a crucible in which new pathogens and diseases can evolve and mutate and eventually cross over to infect humans. This is just one side effect of our climate crisis which, unchecked will continue to overwhelm our civilization with catastrophe after catastrophe. You already know this. You’ve been bombarded with it constantly. Fires, floods, famines, plagues.
Thirdly – we live in an era of instant communication, where the the proliferation of social “media” and the ease with which false information spreads (like a virus) has made our collective “REALITY” a questionable one. How do you make informed decisions if you can’t be sure what’s true? Those in power who called this a “Hoax” and tried to profit politically from mis-information are desperately trying to walk back what they said, gas lighting all of us in the process.
Fourth – a huge percentage of the human population still believe in religious myths. In America, specifically with regard to Christianity, it creates an environment where believers are easy targets for misinformation, and ripe for con-artists who can “drape themselves in Jesus’ robes” while serving a selfish agenda and doing the exact opposite. Many of these believers are crudely, and intentionally ignorant, while many others are simply the product of an American culture that upholds unquestioned religious freedom over skepticism and scientific accuracy. When ignorance is elevated to discourse, and science is equal to “belief”, stupidity rules.
Lastly… this pandemic has struck during the most dysfunctional, inept, venal, self-interested and completely fucking ignorant administration in US History.
So yeah. I fucking told you so.
And for those of you who choose to disagree, or prefer to let your beliefs or politics or stubborn ignorance blind you to the reality of our collective situation, do me a favor. Take some time out of your quarantine lockdown to read a fucking book and educate yourself because your stupidity and selfishness is putting the entire human race at risk.
Dust settles on the ashes. Is that ironic? Perhaps. We certainly had our time in the sun, but compared to the lifespan of this mediocre star in a far flung arm of a nondescript galaxy that gave us life, we were only a flash of cognition. And we burned brightly, for awhile… harnessed the energy of millions of years of dead organisms, tamed the atom, created sprawling cities and incomprehensible technologies and fantastic ruins. We also invented great schools of thought and philosophy, works of literature and science, soul-stirring art, and the extinction of almost all life on earth. Our fall was magnificent… the end result of our worst impulses magnified: greed, cynicism, and ultimately, a failure to live in harmony with and in consideration of the planet from which we sprang.
But what is a few tens of thousands of years compared against 8 billion? If this message reaches you, in whatever future exists before Sol reaches it’s apex as a cooling but surly red queen, know that we WERE, once. That we conquered and bled and cried and loved against the background of so many stars. So much was gained that was ultimately lost.
- From the Journal of unknown earth human “S.C.”, transmitted digitally by high powered radio, November 2032. Picked up by relay at spiral B3.1 (Alpha/Proxima Centauri), re-broadcast to inner spiral via N3768900012-12 and flagged for further study. This document has been reviewed by Watcher 10073216D. Extinction level event confirmed (see also: file archive “lethe”). Related audio files attached for reference.
It’s hard to shake the feeling of dread as we cross over from 2019 to 2020, and not just because our base-ten arithmetic conditions us to place emphasis on every decadal shift. It feels momentous, the crossing of a Rubicon of sorts… From the hopeful past to a hopeless future… a place where we once expected to find world-changing technological advancements, free energy, flying cars, and cities on mars. Instead we arrive in a world of social, political, and environmental collapse… a world where unprecedented anxiety and easy propaganda stems from systems of connection that monetize the darkest aspects of human nature…. where dogma and lies are elevated to national discourse… where reality itself is the subject of heated debate… where the shadow of catastrophic war and destruction and even the extinction of all life hangs over our heads and the doomsday clock ticks ever closer to midnight.
Those of us who wear the mantle of Cassandra are compelled to document this dark future that we see humanity careening recklessly towards, knowing that it will be unappreciated and ultimately lost to the wreckage of time.
Still… we bear witness…. the last prophets of the last decade.
Somehow the summer has transformed to autumn, burnished leaves and wildfires marking the transition. Times being what they are, I think it’s important to disconnect from despair now and then… in the untamed surf of the lost coast, in the forests and hills, in a thick stack of books…
And yes… surrounded by noise-making machines, playing and tapping and pounding and shrieking out a retort to the indifferent gristmill of existence threatening to grind us all into dust.
Production is wrapping up on Antapex Arc, with only a few tracks left to finish. I’ve decided to keep the final mixes quiet until the release so I won’t be posting anymore demos (though if you know me by now you also know I could change my mind, ha!)
Instead, I’m dropping the full and complete lyrics below. Conceivably some minor changes may occur in the final phase, but if you’re curious as to the tone and bent of the new record, have a peek.
001 MONSTERS // WITHOUT THE MASKS THE MONSTERS ARE EASY TO SEE. THEY’RE EVERYWHERE.
002 THE HOUSE OF GOD // THERE IS NO HEART IN THE HOUSE OF GOD THERE IS NO GOD IN THE HEART OF MAN MISPLACED FAITH IN THE LIE IN THE BLOOD MISPLACED FAITH IN THE LIE WE ARE ALL CORPSES WAITING TO DIE WE ARE ALL CORPSES WAITING TO DIE
003 TRANSFORM TO RUIN // BLUR THE FACTS INTO OBLIVION INCOMPREHENSION TO ADAPT DOCUMENTS FOR THE SHREDDER CHAOS IN THE MATH NERO AND HIS VIOLINS SEX AND VIOLENCE I SAW IT IN THE PAPERS IN THE MASS PRODUCTION MACHINE COPPING OUTRAGE ON DEMAND COUNTERFEIT SUSTENANCE RARE EARTHS SMART PHONES TAKING SELFIES FROM THE PLASTIC PATCH
004 DEATHWAVE // NO EBB IN THE DEATHWAVE, NO CLEMENCY FOR THE IGNORANT. NO TURNING BACK NOW. THIS IS WHAT IS. WE ARE INSIDE YOU, WE ARE BECOME YOU. WE TIRE OF YOU. THOUGHTLESS GRAVITY-BOUND CREATURES OF LITTLE SIGNIFICANCE, YOUR TIME IS OVER. (run along now)
005 DREAM ARC // PAINT YOUR FACE IN ASH. HOWL AT THE DEMON MOON. NO MORE WINDMILLS OR SUN-CATCHERS. WE ARE SHARPENED KNIVES AND BARED TEETH. A BLIGHT ON THE HOUSE OF THE WICKED. HOOF MARKS IN THE DIRT. FEAR IN THE DUST, THE WIND RATTLES THE SKELETON TREES. SEVEN SEASONS OF PLAGUE. DEAD LOCUSTS, ROTTING SEED. COUNTING THE COST, THE MONEY-LENDERS IN THE TEMPLE. HANDSHAKES IN THE BACK ROOM, THROW THE BODIES IN THE RIVER. ALL OF THIS OR EVERYTHING. ALL OF THIS OR EVERYTHING. (sing your dreams, as loud as you can. the sound of their demise will be magnificent.)
006 THE MACHINES THAT FEED YOU ARE THE BEASTS THAT EAT YOU
007 LIES // THE LIES WILL KILL YOU. OR SOMEONE WILL.
008 THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE BUT I AM STILL ASLEEP
009 FOXES’ BLOOD // THE LEAVES IN THE GRASS. THE FOXES IN THE MEADOW. THE BLOOD ON THE BEAKS OF THE BIRDS. THIS IS WHAT YOU’VE BEEN WAITING FOR. THE END OF THE LINE. WHAT’S YOURS IS MINE. THE VAPOUR TRAIL IN THE SKY. THE RUBBLE IN THE FIELD. THE MONSOON IN THE DISTANCE. THE GRACE OF ANGELS IN YOUR GRASP, AND THE LIES OF THE DEVILS IN YOUR EAR. RUIN IS THE FRUIT OF YOUR LABOR, DEATH IS A WHISPER ON THE VINE.
010 CASCADES //
011 MULTIPLE PATHS TO THE SAME END // SO GLAD THAT YOU COULD MAKE IT (evacuate the room – cellphone silence) EVERYTHING IS UNDER CONTROL (tell the kids to shut the fuck up) WE KNOW WHAT’S BEST (you think you know better?) KEEP ON KEEPING ON, AS IF THERE WAS ANY OTHER WAY. MAKING THE WORLD SAFE FOR THE ANOINTED. GILDED WHISPERS AND GOLDEN PARACHUTES. SETTING FIRES UNTIL THERE’S NOTHING LEFT TO BURN. THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS. THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS.
012 THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO TO STOP THIS, GO AHEAD AND TRY /// FLESH IN THE TEETH OF THE BROKEN MACHINE THE BLOOD AND THE BILE THAT FUELS IT UNSEEN ONE BY ONE THE WILLING ARE BENT CONSUMPTION MALFUNCTION THE REASON IS SPENT THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO TO STOP THIS THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO TO STOP THIS GO AHEAD AND TRY
013 THE VIBRATION IN THE WALLS IS AN ARMY APPROACHING // THE LAST FOOTSTEPS IN THE GARDEN YELLOW RIBBONS FLUTTER IN THE BREEZE I SAW EVERYTHING RUNNING UP THE HILL WHERE THE DEAD TREES PERCH A TANG OF SMOKE AND DUST ON THE HORIZON IN THE SUN KISSED HOLLOWS WHERE THE BIRDS FLEE AND THE FORESTS FALL BENEATH THE FEET OF THE MACHINES
014 THE UNHINGED AFTER // WAKING UP TO THE FAILURE THE WORDS ON THE PAGE ARE A CYPHER FOR THE LIE THERE’S A RAGE IN THE UNDERNEATH LONGING TO BE FREE A VIOLENCE IN THE BROKEN PLACES WE DON’T CARE TO SEE BUT I SEE CHAOS IS AN ANGRY GOD CHAOS IS AN ANGRY GOD I CAN’T SEE IT HAPPENING I CAN’T SEE IT HAPPENING BUT IT’S HAPPENING
015 FROM LOGIC TO EPILEPSY
“in itself, every idea is neutral… or should be; but man animates ideas, projects his flames and flaws into them; impure, transformed into beliefs, ideas take their place in time, take shape as EVENTS: so the trajectory is complete, from logic to epilepsy… There is no form of intolerance, of proselytism or ideological intransigence which fails to reveal the bestial substratum of enthusiasm. Once man loses his faculty of indifference he becomes a potential murderer; once he transforms his idea into a god… the consequences are incalculable.” E.M. Cioran
016 MONUMENT // this annihilation is a monument to dead men with dead ideas
017 ANNIHILATION ARC // EYES FLICKER NERVES TWITCH EVERY WORD IS A DAGGER THE NIGHT BARES HER CRIMSON TEETH CLOSE THE LOOP THE CAR IS WAITING OUTSIDE BLANK THE WINDOWS SHUT THE DOORS THE FUTURE IS NO LONGER ALIVE THE FUTURE IS NO LONGER ALIVE THE WALLS PULSE STARING INTO THE SCREEN SECURITY CODE LOCKOUT FUCKING THE ALREADY FUCKED A WHITE PHOSPHORUS AFTERBLUR STEELY MEN IN IMMACULATE SUITS BLOOD ON THE CUFF JUST A LITTLE PUSH SCRAPE MY PALMS IN THE DUST THE ASPHALT IS ON FIRE THE ASPHALT IS ON FIRE THE FUTURE IS NO LONGER ALIVE
018 EVERYTHING YOU LOVE IS DEAD OR DYING //
019 LAST PROPHETS /// A SONG OF CRUCIFIXION AT THE END OF DAYS IN THE FINAL HOUR THE EMPTY PROPHETS BEND TO THE WIND THE CLOCK CARVES A CROOKED PATH THROUGH THE PAINTED CIRCLES OF THE ANTHROPOCENE A WARNING IN MATCHSTICK RIDDLES SLOGANS FOR THE WASTED DECADES THE FALLACIOUS HOPE OF A GILDED STATE THE WHEELS ARE BROKEN ON THE BACKS OF THE CHAINED THE PATRIARCHS OF A DYING AGE THE EMPIRE DROWNED BENEATH THE WAVES NO RESURRECTED GODS AND NO ONE TO SAVE
020 BLURRED POINTS ON THE EXTINCTION CURVE// THE PATH THAT IS MADE FROM THE PRIMACY OF THE WILL IS A SERPENT’S MAZE PAINTED IN THE ASH THAT RIDES ON THE WIND OF DESTRUCTION. WHEN THE BEASTS THAT REMAIN PRAY TO THE MASTERS OF THE FIELDS, THE RUINS WILL UPHOLD YOUR RIGHT TO ANNIHILATION.
021 THIS IS ALL THERE IS// ANOTHER BODY FLOATS ON THE RIVER IN SHIMMERED PALLID REFLECTIONS OF THE SUN THE SUN THE ONLY SUN THE ONLY SUN YOU’LL EVER KNOW AND THE BREEZE IS CHURNING DUST ACROSS THE WORLD WHILE THE GREAT EMPTY MACHINE COUNTS THE TOLL IS IT WORTH THE PRICE? THIS IS ALL THERE IS
022 LAST OBSCENITIES /// TRYING TO FIND THE PERFECT EPITHET BUT THE WORDS ARE SHIT NO POINT TO THE ARGUMENT WHEN NO ONE BELIEVES IN IT GOD HELP US… BUT THERE’S NO GOD JUST AN EMPTY EXPANSE WHERE THE IDIOTS DANCE AND THE TRUTH IS A LIGHTNING ROD
023 ANTAPEX ARC // A WARNING. A KISS. A WELCOME DESTRUCTION. A PRETTY LITTLE POISON FLUSH WITH THE BLOOD OF FOUR BILLION YEARS ON HER LIPS. ALWAYS FALLING INTO THE SAME TRAPS, BEAUTIFUL PRISONS. DEATH IS PAINTED IN THE ECHOES OF FARAWAY STARS. MURDER IN THE GRAVITY WELLS OF SOLITARY SUNS. WHAT HOPE IS THERE? THOUGHTLESS BUT ALIVE. TO BE MORE. TO SEE MORE. TO UNDERSTAND THE ANSWERS. TO MOURN THE QUESTIONS. ALL THAT EVER WAS. A FADED STAIN ON THE CONCRETE.
So, I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole a bit this week reading Greg Palast’s excellent https://www.gregpalast.com/vulturespicnic/
My unfortunate primary takeaway from it’s myriad indictments of oil industry fuckery is that there is no chance in hell that we are going to resolve the climate crisis through government action.
The reason, of course, is that the “governments” are complicit in and profiting from oil industry fuckery. It’s a feature, not a bug. It is a racket of monumental proportions underpinning our entire economic reality, ensnaring the greed of the entire elite apparatus in multiple countries (including both major parties in the USA).
Going back at least as far as World War II and it’s aftermath (and probably further) the entirety of western geopolitics has operated at the behest of the oil lords. Inconvenient indigenous peoples are removed, governments overthrown, wars perpetrated, assassinations ordered, bribes paid… all to insure that the oil industry profits were maintained. I don’t even need to annotate these accusations because even the marginally informed could point to 7 or 8 examples for each of them. Iran. Iraq. Syria. Venezuela. The arctic. Keystone.
As Palast points out, the oil industry even owns responsibility for Hurricane Katrina… And NOT necessarily because of their obvious contribution to global warming, but because they lobbied for and built a giant short-cut canal from the gulf to New Orleans that was basically a massive funnel for the sea to flow into the city. That and their destruction of the outlying wetlands that were previously protecting the city are the reasons that the hurricane devastated and overwhelmed the city. But, unless you dig deeper you only know what they want you to know.
So yeah, I’m pissed. You should be too. I highly recommend the book if you can get a copy (you can buy it directly from Greg at the link above).
History has a certain rhyme to it, as Mark Twain once said, never quite repeating exactly, but tending to emerge from particular themes time and time again.
One of those themes that has consistently emerged over time, especially as a result of capitalist focused economies (though certainly not limited to them) is the gradual accumulation and concentration of wealth at the top, exacerbating the disparity between those who have, and those who “have not”.
Despite history’s lessons on how this ultimately ends in collapse for the wealthy and poor alike, our modern civilization seems oblivious to the danger, as those at the top of the economic pyramid continue to accumulate wealth, extract resources unsustainably for profit, commandeer the political process for their own benefit, and externalize all of the negative costs and pollution on to the world’s poorest.
As mankind continues to despoil the planet under the banner of “growth” like a cancer, these converging problems threaten to undo all of the progress made in the last 200 years on human rights, according to a new UN report, with the largest share of the effects of climate change placed on the backs of those with the least. What happens when millions of people have no access to fresh water? What happens when rising sea levels inundate poor countries? More refugees, more xenophobic reactionaries, more destruction, more death, more chaos.
What I think the wealthy few fail to fully realize in this scenario is that the disruption and societal chaos unleashed by their refusal to change their behavior or to take responsibility for it will ultimately destroy them along with everything else. As failures cascade up and down our complex and interconnected systems, there will be no safe haven, even for the rich.
And so we continue our blind march towards extinction.
These days, you don’t have to wander far to trip over yet another story that fills in some of the picture on our pending environmental collapse. Many scientists familiar with the reams of data projecting overshoot in numerous areas (soil erosion, water use, pollution, etc.) have even posited that our prolific tendency for doing things that will eventually kill us may even be an answer to the Fermi Paradox.
In western capitalistic nations, the solutions to some of these problems have focused on the individual. What can “I” do?
Because the narrative of capitalism relies on the idea (or myth, rather) that the individual has the ultimate power to drive the system, for three decades now we have been sold on the idea of “going green”. Driving electric cars, taking public transport, using solar power, giving to environmental groups, and yes… recycling.
While all of these efforts are needed, they are all largely “feel good” initiatives that only make a small dent in the problem without being bolstered by co-operative organized efforts by the world’s governmental bodies.
One aspect of our “feel good” environmentalism that is rarely discussed or even viewed in all of it’s gory details is the recycling business. Fortunately, the excellent journalists over at The Guardian have taken the time to dig in to this story.
In the process of doing my own research recently into the development of sustainable raw materials and plastic replacements, the seriousness of the problem has become more and more apparent. While there are many advocates for switching to bio-plastics, and there are other new technologies being implemented at very small scales, the bigger problem is how to deal with the materials already in the environment, especially for the numerous consumer products that have mixed plastic components. (For example, polyester fabric, which usually includes either PU or PVC backing to strengthen it and to improve water resistance. These materials are used extensively for luggage, backpacks, and other carrying bags.) Mixed plastics are not really recyclable, certainly not at the scale needed to whittle away at the problem.
The more I read about and consider the scope of all of these problems, the need to change our consumerist lifestyle and economic system are clearly the only answers that can address these issues for the long term.
If we don’t, as Christina Lai, a Sungai Petani activist quoted in the Guardian article said: “One day this land will be taken over by rubbish and not humans.”
Lately I find myself confronting the same question over and over:
“What’s the point?”
Having long ago fallen down the existential rabbit-hole in search of the answer, I had come to what I considered a deeply satisfying conclusion – that the question empowers the questioner to make a choice: What should the answer be? Far from being a rationalization for not doing or caring, it becomes a means to inscribe meaning into the answer… to define the point.
Defining the point also defines a purpose and a direction. In its inverse (“there is no point”) it embodies both an acceptance of pointlessness and purposelessness and the liberation that comes from that acceptance.
The question is, why does this no longer feel like a satisfying answer?
Because…. it’s no longer a satisfying answer. Because in 2019 we are all staring into the abyss of extinction… not in some hazy, imagined future, but quite possibly within our lifetimes.
Extinction shouldn’t change the answer. But somehow, it does. Somehow the answer is tainted… it becomes a blade that cuts away all of it’s previous values – beauty, kindness, the pursuit of knowledge… the pursuit of the good. It leaves behind only survival. The animal instinct is once again ascendant. All of evolution’s false promises resolve in the same cold truth.
There is no spaceship waiting to take us to far away stars. There is no post-human consciousness, no technological singularity. Every idea, every thought, every good deed, everything that humans ever did or made is swallowed up in the event horizon of extinction.
I think the answer was always bullshit… a salve for the ego. Having a purpose beyond our needs of consumption, defecation, propagation, death… it was always just a way to feel good about ourselves. To feel important.
But there never was a point. The point is a sharp stick that pokes out your eyes. It is the tip of a parabolic exponentialism of atmospheric components that will choke out our lives in dust and flame. It is death. We confuse ourselves with the idea of progress, of improvement, success, accomplishment. We run a race every day to arrive at the same finish line with no medals waiting for us… just the cold dark empty.
The point is just a point. It’s transgress can be mapped and studied but the observer influences the observation, there is no scientific answer to it.
We can posit an emotional theorem, because it’s our choice to do so. A gift of the patterns marked in the prefrontal cortex that elevate and subjugate. Take care of those you love. Do what fulfills you. Be kind, because the universe will not be.
And maybe we’ll find a way through this, but probably we won’t.
The sun rises in dappled gold, it sets in tangerine and crimson. Due to some happenstance of weather patterns hundreds of thousands of years ago our ancestors charted a new path, created music, made language, science, agriculture, architecture, poetry. It never had to be. You never had to be.
Yet… here we are.