Apocalypse Later

Witness two writers from opposite ends of the stylistic spectrum striking a similar chord:

Alex Steffan:

The single biggest delusion in North America today is that the interconnected planetary problems bearing down on us can be faced with slight alterations to the current order; that a model of delivery prosperity based on suburbs and big cars and consumerism and profligate energy use and the careless spewing of pollution in all directions can be fixed through the swapping out of some of its constituent parts for slightly greener parts — that green-built McMansions and hybrid cars and compact fluorescent light bulbs will prop the model up indefinitely. They won’t, because we are in a situation where incremental reform has already been made meaningless by a revolution in context…

We’re moving more and more quickly into a period of rapid transformation. We could be embracing that change and setting out to build the next smart, bright green economy. Instead, we allow ourselves to be deceived into thinking that the current models are “too big to fail.” They’re not, and the longer we listen, the more epic the failure will be.

Mark Morford:

But that leads to the larger theory at play here, a deeper — and perhaps slightly more frightening and intriguing — possibility. It is this: the old kingdom must fully crumble and die before the new can arise. The American empire, like every gleaming, overreaching empire of note before it, is near its end.

This is the long view, now coming into abrupt focus: Only from the death of all those once-definitive American mainstays: cars, newspapers, Wall Street, banking, home ownership, God — can something truly innovative and revolutionary be born.


And I just went to thesaurus.com and was served up ads for McDonalds, the Chevy Suburban, a diet plan, and the Seattle Mariners all on the same page.


Humans have a penchant for believing they are living in revolutionary times, on the brink of massive change.  Just ask anyone who spent time in San Francisco during the late 1960s (not me — I was here).  It’s a tendency lodged deep in our psyches, no doubt rooted in the same reptilian muck that fuels religious obsession with imminent Armageddon.

But oh yes indeed, there would appear to be some rather serious shit going down these days.  So then, are we truly on the verge of revolutionary change?  Or are we once again succumbing to the propensity to overestimate the importance of our own era?

Subjected to the ceaseless onslaught of reality, the normally implacable skeptical voice inside my head almost always loses the debate these days, as it has become impossible to deny that the array of apocalyptic forces now converging upon us is genuinely unprecedented.  But still, I haven’t completely closed my intellectual door on the possibility of apocalypse later.  Should I?