Friday, May 20, 2011

By the Sea, By the Sea, By the Beautiful Sea

FF and I have decided to greet The End of Days in a lovely cool, green and blue penthouse hotel suite overlooking the sparkling Atlantic Ocean in Virginia Beach. This morning, sunshine poured through the glass curtains in the living room, and we rose early. We intend to sit in the nice deck chairs on the balcony tomorrow and wait for raptured souls to pop up out of the ocean like champagne corks.

In the parking garage across from the hotel, we saw a silver PT Cruiser with neat signs in the back window indicating Saturday, May 21 as the date of the Rapture and a web address to which one could refer for more information. We also noticed they had fishing poles on the roof rack. Apparently, if you fear you might not be raptured, fishing poles are good to have so that you can feed yourself and your family until October when the whole Earth will be destroyed.

Personally, if the whole Earth is going to be destroyed, I think it's a bit late for me to take up fishing.

But a lot of people apparently want to survive for those last five months: In bunkers deep in the Arizona desert, or here in Virginia fishing on the beach casting a line with one hand, while fighting off the less prepared with the other. There will surely be those who didn't go to the web site who will want to eat your food after all the supermarkets are looted. Well, I am in awe of the Survivalist spirit of stubborn resistance to the fiery chimera they have conjured up themselves!

Armageddon can be fun!

The eagerness for an imagined end to all things, expressed so publicly and at such great expense not only of money but eventually of credibility and reputation, is something we should all take a good look at. No one can say these folks aren't sincere: Some have sold their homes and quit their jobs though, as FF remarked, being raptured seems like the best excuse ever for taking a sick day.

Why the enthusiasm for imagining us all wiped out, and why such great investment in money and effort in surviving in the aftermath?

When little children are tired of a game, their instinct is to knock all the blocks down, boom! Or sweep all the piece off the game-board, whoosh! Could it be that many Americans are just tired of the game they are playing and have decided that mass destruction by an unseen Deity would be the best way to finish it all off and start a newer, better game?

In a land where Free Will and Liberty are supposedly the bedrock of our body politic and our much-heralded "way of life", it seems clear to me that many people don't want to be free at all. For the best take on this, check out Erich Fromm's Escape from Freedom, which is in my opinion the most careful analysis ever of the lemming aspect of human nature. People want to follow, and are terribly disturbed by the thought that "winning the game" (that is, fixing society's ills, improving our human condition, achieving personal fulfillment) will require the kind of work and dedication that they simply haven't got the heart or attention span for. Much better to just start over! Better to just wipe the board clean! Harold Camping, the main "prophet" of this dark scenario, is pretty old now: Perhaps this current End of Times hysteria is simply the extremely powerful projection of Mr. Camping's own ennui and end of life depression?

In my last post about the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, I wrote about the Death Pill that Americans seem so eager to take, and I will continue to ponder and write about the morbidity that permeates our culture. Because I wish it were not so. I wish America were happier. Because happy people don't imagine destructive, horrifying scenarios, and don't cheer when people are shot in the head, or get hot and bothered about a number of ugly scenarios that are common content in our popular culture. And yet Death is one of the favorite hobbies of Americans, both in life and on-screen, closely followed by pain, violence, misery and aggression. Why are Americans so unhappy? And how can we get happier?

I promise to think about this, but not today. Today it is sunny, and the glittering ocean calls us away from our seventh floor balcony and bids us to play in the sun! FF and I might go to Pocahontas Pancake and Waffle House for breakfast and then lie by the pool for a little while. We will go to the soft, sandy beach, I will make a sand castle by the sea and, when I am bored with that, I will watch the waves wash my castle all away into the big, wide ocean. And then we'll have a nice nap.

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