Rollin' Like Sisyphus

That Escalating, Irritating, Persistent Tug You Feel Is Only The Unraveling Of The Great Sweater Of Western Civilization

Posted in 2012 - A Year Of Lasts by Huckleberry on September 15, 2012

You better run. Plus, this photo, taken last night, is the seventh high speed police chase in as many days in the Los Angeles area, which is an absurdly high number even for here.

Don’t be alarmed.
It’ll all be over soon.
It’s a funny thing about civilizations, the teetering brinksmanship of it all, there at the end when last call itself is a distant memory, and you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here. We like to point to the Romans, us American Contrarians do, to recognize history remade in a blockbuster 3D sensory experience all around us.
Generally, the fall of the Roman Empire is used as a cautionary example for the fall of Pax Americana, with all of the trite observations about the reasons why, including a thoroughly corrupt political system, an epically overstretched and unmanageable series of military commitments, a collapsing economy, a wanton and lascivious blood lust on the part of the average Roman, a wanton and lascivious literal lust on the part of the above/below average Roman, etc.
All of this is true, to be sure, but it overlooks something so subtle, it is often not recognized at all.
Civilization is a cooperative construct that can only exist through the consent of its participants. That consent is not an obvious, actionable thing. It is not a checkbox that is ticked off, it is not born out through voting, working 9-to-5, or agreeing to separate the trash from the recyclables. Those are all symptoms of consent, but not the progenitor of it.
This consent, the crux of any practicing civilization, is a negative action; it is a subconscious covenant on the part of each individual member to not submit to base, animalistic instincts; to hold in check the impulses that lean to criminal, uncivilized, anti-social behavior.
This consent is the first brick necessary and the last domino to fall in the life of any civilization. It is easy to hold onto when everyone has it, it is the first thing to go out the window when it’s clear that no one really gives a fuck any more.
Anyone who has eyes and the misfortune to watch the news for even a minute can see that shit is not going in a good direction. This is obvious. A corrupt political system, an epically overstretched and unmanageable series of military commitments, a collapsing economy, a wanton and lascivious blood lust, a wanton and lascivious literal lust, yada, yada, yada, it’s the 5th century in IMAX/THX, with better special effects. And maybe Napalm.
Yet this has been the case for America/The West for a very long time, and through it all, civilization has stumbled forward and held
Until now.
I’ve been seeing more and more this summer that people are simply letting civilizational consent evaporate. Average, below average, and above average people are giving up. People are on edge in a way that I’ve never seen before, with the liminals – those people who aren’t crazy or explicitly anti-social in any circumstance, but who live close enough to a psychological precipice that participation has to be subliminally coerced – are recognizing in some subconscious way that their consent is a hindrance rather than a help in the day-to-day quotidian affairs of contemporary existence. For several months, I’ve seen people of all walks of life who no longer look like they are burdened with a civilizational responsibility; call it a look in the eye, a facial twitch, an aspect of the gait, whatever. Something has changed fundamentally, and something is slipping away so quietly, it makes me wonder how it ever persisted this long at all.


One Response

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  1. Doom said, on September 15, 2012 at 19:33

    How did it stay that way for as long as it did, has, and may again? Glue. Superglue, really. The state, which remains, of course. But it is a fiction, as you suggest. There simply aren’t enough men to enforce it. It was an allowed fiction. The family, never really a happy thing but a good society builder and maintainer is pretty much destroyed. Between divorce, bachelors, spinsters, and distance, people have trouble knowing their siblings, let alone their cousins. And of course the Church. Not forgotten, just lost in the shuffle. People still believe in Jesus, or God, or… something. They will get right back to you on that. Ah, but this was the plan for many for centuries. If too, it may just be how it must be. Just a sort of gimmick of men, like pi or i is for mathematicians and scientists? Keeps things… fresh? Sort of how, in the Matrix, it was suggested that a perfect scenario was created but the people rejected it, couldn’t handle it. Maybe the beast behind the mask cannot be contained for very long or this well? Dunno.

    Hold onto your ass, this could get bumpy.

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