Oct 2007

A dream conversation from two nights ago

“We’re living in a civilisation in decline.”
– You really think so?
“I do.”
– So when did it begin… this decline? When did we peak, as it were?
– Whoa! Really?
“Yep. That was the peak of European civilisation. Western civilisation if you want.”
– Wow. That long ago? For some reason I thought you were going to say 1969 and Neil Armstrong… y’know, how we gave up looking outwards after that and started retreating from the frontiers instead of pushing at them? But I guess I was thinking more about American civilisation than European…
“American civilisation? There’s no such thing. European civilisation became globalised… geographically detached. By 1909 the civilisation that emerged from the European Dark Ages had spread to every corner of the planet. It was at its height. After that… well… the rush towards World War One began. And so the decline began. Modern America is — in many ways — merely the final stage of that decline.”
– I know a couple of hundred million Americans who would probably disagree with you there…
“Well, wouldn’t be the first time a couple of hundred million Americans have been wrong, now would it?”
– Ooooh, bitchy. They told me you were anti-American. I assumed they just meant anti-Bush…
“Politically anti-American. Politically. America is the overheating engine of latter-day globalised capitalism… you could say I’m ‘anti’ the role it plays and has played in the acceleration of our decline into barbarism. And that’s something that goes far deeper than which middle-aged rich guy is currently sitting in the White House.”
– What are you saying? That all Americans are the problem?
“Of course I’m not saying that. Mind you, it’s hard not to make a wise-crack about how getting the government you deserve. If it really is ‘Of The People’, then presumably the people need to accept responsibility for its actions.”
– Oh come on! You know it’s a little more complicated than that.
“Is it? I dunno… yeah, maybe you’re right.”
– No ‘maybe’ about it. Take me for example… I’ve spent my whole adult life campaigning for complete nuclear disarmament. But when it comes to choosing the leader of the country, I’ve never once been able to vote for someone who shares my position. Not once.
“No you’re right of course, I agree with you. I was deliberately winding you up.”
– 1909 though? I really didn’t expect that.

Note: There’s no doubt in my mind that the above dream was heavily influenced by the fact that I’m currently reading Pynchon’s wonderful novel, Against The Day.

Posted in: Announcements