where do I end and you begin...
The 2000 Clock
You know, it wasn't too long ago that millions of us used to lament about whether or not some anxiety ridden Russian sub skipper would snap and take matters into his own hands. Somewhere, deep within the frozen waters of the North Pacific, he would launch a heavy rain of molecular obedience and then simply sit there and feel all those years of back tension just seep out of his body as if it had been filled with lead. The wonderment of knowing the future finally given him, he would retire to his quarters and sleep soundly for the first time since childhood. And as his slumber took hold, the rest of us would awake to the paralyzing realization that the sunrise had come too early, as the futile droning of the Emergency Broadcast System played itself out in the background. It always perplexed me that such a warning system should be based upon such an annoying sound. In the event of a nuclear attack I always thought it more appropriate for a calm voice to break the airwaves and commence repeating a single, solitary sentence You can run but you can't hide, so don't be silly. In the time it takes a fork to drop from your hand to the floor, everything within a fifty mile radius is liquefied. Beyond that, everything is hit by a shock-wave and crushed like a beer can, not to mention spontaneously bursting into flames. So much for that important informational segment that's supposed to follow the dog whistle portion of the broadcast. Thankfully, the dogs made it to the minimum safe distance in time.
After waiting eight years short of a lifetime for hell-fire to rain from the sky, it baffles me to think that I would ever allow something as infantile as the disablement of a bank machine to get the better of me. Looking at the alternatives, I'd rather have all the computers in the world crash than have several hundred kilotons of sugar coated plutonium sprinkled on my Raisin Bran. So maybe all the computers will crash. And along with them most of the services that we've come to rely on over the years. No more phones to answer, no more answering machines to answer them for us. Planes, keeping with the extinction rate of their biological relations, will plummet from the skies destroying numerous multiplexes, strip malls, and prefab townhouse complexes. Slurpee machines will cease to spit their luscious goo while armies of insects dance with feverish delight around the defunct machinery that once sought to zap them from existence. Traffic lights worldwide will go dark, leaving millions wondering who has the right of way. Highway shootings will quadruple up until the point where everyone runs out of gas and realizes that gas station pumps, along with most things, don't work either. Faced with this new and frightening dilemma, we'll be forced to turn to those countries too underdeveloped and impoverished to know the luxury of mechanized transport to teach us how to get from point A to point B. So everyone's going to have to make do with simply shooting each other while stationary for a while. Everything, and anything, that you've come to rely on will be gone. There was a time when your entire financial life was kept within the safe confines of a tiny little booklet that was updated by hand (human hands, no less). Little good your bankcard will do you now. So, when the currencies of the world are rendered useless, the planet will be forced to return to the barter system. Which means that your two thousand dollar VCR is worthless and that old bike you haven't used since 1978 is worth it's weight in gold (gold being four cans of beans, a loaf of bread, and possibly a couple sticks of Juicy Fruit). Welcome to the future. Who would have possibly imagined.
Too far, too fast. My grandfather used to say that all the time. Born in the early morning hours of the 20th Century, he used to drive a horse drawn delivery carriage when he was a milkman. He was in the airforce in World War 2, following which he graduated to a delivery 'truck'. If he were still alive and in the delivery business today, most people from his childhood (if asked) probably would have assumed that he'd be driving some form of flying delivery vehicle. According to most works of fiction from days past, we were supposed to be living on the moon by now and eating steaks in pill form. But that's just not the case. Instead we've decided to turn to increasing our conveniences. And though that might somehow lead to you to assume that being the masters of our own destiny should encompass both possibilities, I can assure you that one deters the other. As we expand our ability to make everything easier we decrease our seldom used ability of truly 'progressing'. Instead of going back to the moon repeatedly, we turned our attentions to making television remote controls more difficult to operate than spacecraft. We haven't been back to the moon in quite a while. I wonder why that is? Maybe someone thought 'So what. Been there, done that. But you know what. I sure do wish there was a universal controller that operated my TV, VCR, and stereo all at the same time.' That's not to say that there aren't a million things that couldn't be better right here at home. Who needs to go to the moon when we can't even feed everyone in the world despite the fact that we have enough food to pull it off. But I'll tell you, thankfully Sega came out with Dreamcast this year because things in the home entertainment world were starting to get a little stale. Almost like all that unused bread that we heap into dumpsters at the end of every week, very uneaten. Oh my, a guilty first worlder indeed Mr. Good.
The future's always been tricky like that. It's the one thing that everyone strives to prepare for but never really are when it arrives. The future is time's true face. Because like time itself, it remains undetermined and wholly represented by nothing more than a word and the unshakable fact that it's lying in wait, spiced with rumor. Time is time because without a name it would only be survived by the fact that the sun rises and sets each day. So it's only logical that it has a name. Add to that the fact that we've decided to chop each day up into a variety of different representations of time, and you've got what's known as 'predictability'. There will always be a three o'clock after two o'clock. Human beings love that sort of thing. So instead of just living our lives not knowing when McDonalds stops serving breakfast, we thought it prudent to make sure that we could get there in time to enjoy their sausage and egg McMuffins. The future, which is nothing more than our concept of regulated time waiting to occur, is necessary to ensure that you can loosely predict when you're probably going to need to start using Depends. Age reflects the effects of time, so it's safe to assume that in the future you'll look and feel older. But is that time, or is it nothing more than the effects of the earth's gravity coupled with the inescapable wear and tear of our body-machines? Without the future represented, we would be able to continually enjoy those things that are locked in to a specific section of the year. Like the fact that the football season begins in August and ends in May. Without having compartmentalizing the future, no one would know when these things were supposed to end. Thus, Premiership Football all year round. I like that. I like it a lot. Come on you reds.
You know, I'm not sure that made a whole lot of sense. But that's what I love about these things. I rarely make sense and you know, I feel pretty good about it. To be quite honest, I feel as though my intellect has been reduced rather significantly over these past years. There was a time when I could actually make sense for weeks at a time. But alas, all good things come to an end. Like the world maybe. Just like the world.
I have, over the past years, enjoyed dropping unmarked bombs on the roofs of your houses. My bombers, all stealth and piloted by automatons, slip undetected beneath your radar in time enough to deliver their payloads and glide noiselessly into the curious air beyond. Sometimes the impact is enough to shake you from your sleep. And sometimes it's as if I were dropping Styrofoam. That said, I find it odd that I'm sitting here trying to go on about something that I've come to realize is quite beyond me. The future is quite a personalized affair, making any attempt to reflect on it's impending state quite pointless. Because you and I will always see it differently, as will our children. The future is nothing more than what you think it should be. And the disappointing feature about that little truth is that it rarely becomes all that you hoped it would. Maybe that's why there are people all over this world, right at this very moment, stockpiling canned goods, ammunition, and water in fiercely built survival camps. Because the coming shift in our representation of time has somehow convinced them that all hell is going to break loose mere seconds after midnight. I've got a theory about New Years this year. I'm convinced that it's going to be the quietest New Years on record. Why? Because everyone's going to be wondering what's going to happen. No one knows. Therein lies the true power of time and the future. It's got us by the balls and we know it. And being the animals that we are, we're just no good at dealing with things of that nature. So, for a little fun, let's run through some of the more interesting possibilities, shall we...
#1: Table Hockey For The Rights To Your Soul
#2: The Grand Canyon Challenge
#3: The Nerf Bat Solution
#4: The Mega Track 2000 Grand Championship Of The Universe
#5: Clue Will it be Professor Plumb in the library with the candle stick or Colonel Mustard in the study with the pipe? Only the envelope knows for sure.
Riddle Me This...
One thing I've been pondering these past weeks is this. If it's only the year 2000 according to the Christian calendar, and the end is truly at hand, then what happens to the Chinese? Do they have to wait until Chinese New Year for the world to end, or are they up for eternal damnation the same time as the rest of us? Just wondering. If anyone could get back to me on that, I'd appreciate it.
Dinosaurs were not as simple minded as everyone thinks they were. There are those that will tell you that the brain of a dinosaur was no bigger than a walnut. I disagree. I believe that dinosaurs were highly intellectual creatures that possessed incomprehensible neural abilities (not unlike 'the force'). The genius of their design was merely concealed in a highly evolved state of stupidity, making them look and seem unintelligent when they were actually highly evolved. But how does this relate to the coming millennium you ask? I'm getting to that.
Life's design has been constant for billions of years. The food chain is constructed in such a way that every form of life perpetuates itself on the backs (or flesh) of others. Carnivores eat herbivores, larger animals feast upon smaller, weaker animals, and sometimes tiny creatures team up to slay some larger prey. In the case of the carnivorous dinosaur, the disappearance of the herbivores left them in a tight spot. With nothing left to eat, they were forced to assemble and face some hard facts. This great and ancient assembly most likely took place in what is now Texas, though there are those that believe it was held in the Sahara (which was once a lush, tropical paradise). At this great meeting, the carnivores attempted to pool their knowledge and come up with a solution to their problem. Dinosaurs from all over the world attended the gathering, offering insights and ideas. But no one could come up with anything concrete. So that's when they decided to formulate their plan. Being the intelligent creatures that I believe they were, the carnivores decided to place themselves in a state of suspended animation and await the arrival of a new food source. This state of sleep was designed to last until a specific year which, by their calendar, would be 90,478,393,020. Coincidentally, 90,478,393,020 coincides with the year 2000 on our calendar. So that's the theory. The great carnivorous dinosaurs of the past will awaken to discover that the world has been populated by an excellent source of vitamin B12. And forthwith, will proceed to devour every last one of us. So I highly recommend you have a heart and start bathing in garlic powder, chopped onions, and barbecue sauce. Let's not be assholes about it.
The time has come to victimize or be victimized. No one said life after the death of technology was going to be easy. In a way, I'm quite fond of the idea. After a few years all the bullets, wire guided missiles, mortars, rocket propelled grenades, short-medium-long range artillery, flame throwers, and various other weapon systems will have been exhausted. Leaving us, in a round about way, right back where we started. Good old steel v steel, man v man. There's no better deterrent against violence than being faced with the notion that you have to physically cut someone's limbs off with a broadsword. It just doesn't get anymore personal than that. Who knows, maybe there will come a time when the things of the present will appear to be infused with magical powers, creating wonderment for miles around. Maybe, in say 2099, some kid will accidentally come across a loaded shotgun buried in some cave and it'll freak everyone out. Yep, it's back to the Quest For Fire days for you and all your friends. So you'd better get your ass down to Circuit Circus and spend all that loose change. Chances are you won't be able to indulge yourself in some Joust for the remainder of your miserable, backwards existence.
Conveniently enough, the digression of our society will most likely lead to the ascension of religious control over all those foolish, secular governments that allowed all of this to happen in the first place. Infused with a new found terror of that which we cannot explain nor control, we'll buy back into all the fear mongering bullshit that kept their kind living the good life for the better part of seventeen hundred years. Intercontinental wars will rage between the major religions of the world, while the church conducts decade after decade of witch hunts. Free thought will vanish, as the desire within us to do anything about it is replaced by accomplishing more immediate goals, like finding enough food to feed our families. Meanwhile, in the forbidden wings of cathedrals everywhere, the clergy will be bathing with under aged boys and girls, eating rack of lamb, and consuming gallons of wine and brandy. No one ever said that serving God didn't have it's upside. The perks just vanished there for a bit after we got up enough guts to do something about it. That aside, it's back to the good-old-days for the boys in black. And if it just so happens that you don't like it, there's always the thought of being tied to a pole and consumed by flames to change your mind.
On the other hand, religious forces may not regain control of the world. Maybe we'll resort to wandering the wilderness like nomads, raping and pillaging everything in our paths. We'll sacrifice virgins to our goat god and consume strange mixtures of wild berries and roots while we dance feverishly around bonfires, howling at the moon. We'll paint our faces with the blood of our enemies and eat their hearts to ensure that their souls can't cross over into the netherworld. And, with any luck, we'll create a new language that has a one hundred word vocabulary, because the one we've got now is driving me up the fucking wall.
So which is it? Either you're a realist and are prepared for all hell to break loose (and maybe even a little excited about the possibility), or you're an optimist and you're willing to rely on our civility to stem the tide of ugliness that is inherent in our nature. Personally, I wouldn't mind sacrificing a virgin or two to be quite honest with you, so I'm kind of hoping for the whole 'nomad' scenario to pan out myself.
Time. Time enough. When I was a boy I used to pace around the living room at night because the thought of being vaporized by some horrific device of incomprehensible destruction loomed over me like a wounded tiger. Being a student of 20th Century History (thanks to my father), I was always cognizant of the old adage that to ensure peace one prepares for war. My entire childhood, as may be the case with some of you, was spent wondering just how stupid we could be given the chance. It's easy to rationalize the numbers behind such idiocy. Victory means very little when all is lost in the attempt to gain. I used to wonder if the Russians knew that. Just a foolish boy, sometimes I lost sight of the fact that all people, in their own way, knew that had we been dumb enough to do it then we would have become that which we'd spent numerous millennia trying not to be. Animals. So, when the clock strikes twelve on New Years Eve, there's really only one thing you need think to yourself... We made it. And that's good enough.