Tuesday, December 12, 2023

The One with the Apocalypse

I recently watched a few things, back to back, to distract me from the news.

One was openly apocalyptical, as so much is these days. Is it a trend, or is the output the same, but I just never gravitated to it so much?? I've also noticed a rise in interest in mushrooms, mosses, bones, and decay and all things dank and symbolically death-related. The trajectory feels like we moved from flower power in the 60s to a neon wave in the 80s, then all things plastic and shiny in 2000, and now we're into dark, wet rot. 

The end times movie was Leave the World Behind. Some people on twitter thought it amazing and watched it a few times over, but I wasn't as impressed. I wasn't invested in whether or not any of the characters lived or died, but it was okay fare for a cold rainy afternoon. 

***Spoiler Alert***

A family of four rents a cottage in the woods. Then the owners show up to stay there, willing to camp out in the basement, and we realize something's really wrong in the world - an invasion by enemies maybe - and they showed up to hide there. At one point the rich owner explains that there's no cabal of evil people controlling things. It's far worse: nobody's in control, and the wealthy just get notified when shit's going down a little earlier than the rest. It's Hannah Arendt's bureaucratic rule by nobody. Politics is just a big circle jerk with everyone trying to stay afloat rather than anyone looking at the big picture and crafting the best possible path through it all. 

It's an interesting concept, except, in real life, there does appear to be an established, coordinated network of thinktanks working against Canada's climate action: the 'Extreme' Atlas Network Groups, including the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI), Macdonald Laurier Institute, and the Fraser Institute. How much is saying there's no evil cabal in a mainstream film a way of throwing us off their track! Plot twist!!

The film also makes a statement around our obsession with tech throughout. Without wifi, so many people are completely lost - figuratively and literally. No GPS, no information, and how can we possibly finish our show! The youngest is obsessed with seeing the end of Friends. She was one episode away from the finale when the wifi cut out. 

Side note, they sleep with candles burning beside the bed. That was actually the most stressful part of the film for me. Don't ever go to sleep with a candle burning, much less a bunch of them right beside your bed!! Especially not during the end times when you might not be able to find other shelter. 

The youngest decides to take action and finds a bunker nearby that was carefully built just for some such occurance, but the owners didn't get the heads up to get out of town fast enough to make use of it. On one wall, lit like the glory of God, was shelves and shelves of DVDs. She got to see the ending of her show. 

There are likely tons of interpretations of this, but it made me think about how much we need completion. We get a burst of happy hormones when something is finally complete. We want to see thing through to the end. Freud wrote about this a lot, long before we knew about neurotransmitters. We seek similar relationships over and over until we can resolve them. 

"Our recognition that the ruling tendency of psychic life . . . is the struggle for reduction, keeping at a constant level, or removal of the inner stimulus tension--a struggle which comes to expression in the pleasure-principle--is indeed one of our strongest motives for believing in the existence of death-instincts."

We long for finality in all things in order to release ourselves from the tension of sitting near the end. This is clearest when we feel great making a questionable decision because having finally decided feels so good even when it's a bad choice. This explains why so many stay on a wrong path and won't budge from it even when shown the error of their decision; it feels so good to have decided that we don't want to have to go back to that uneasy moment of choosing.

It's also about that need for escapism even in times of imminent danger when we might better prepare, but what is there to prepare for

And how should I begin? 

We may very well be nearing a very real ending, but we won't be able to see it. We're relegated to the torturous position of being very near the end for the rest of our lives however long that may be.

The tension can be alleviated by sitting with the present moment, but that's also really hard to do.

Or we can distract ourselves from it, which is way easier.

To lighten the mood, I followed it with a comedy special: Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man and the Pool

If you've seen it, then you're already laughing. It's absolutely brilliant and hilarious, and I really really hope he lives! But it didn't so much lighten the mood as it reinforced it. Be careful drinking liquids while you watch; you could choke to death!

"I don't know if anyone can handle death. . . . Enjoy every sandwich. . . . All we are promised is this moment together."

And so it goes. 

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