Tuesday, March 15, 2011

time to bring out the clowns

when you rip the shiny, disneyized facade off the air-conditioned nightmare that henry miller first described some decades ago, what lies beneath the glitz and the glamor we call the contemporary world?

well, we're catching a glimpse of the jury-rigged chop job that passes for critical infrastructure, the real landscape of devastation and ruin that lies behind the curtain of media-manufactured, mass-marketed mush.

you had a sense of unbridled optimism about a wonderful world of the future back in the 1960s. progress was on the march, living standards were rising, historic injustices were being consigned to the dustbin, and it seemed like blue skies and smooth sailing as far as one could see...

today, in the ruins of post-quake, post-tsunami japan, the nuclear catastrophe begins to arise in all its hideous glory, menacing an entire nation, its whole people, where just a few days ago life went on in blissful ignorance of the demons lurking within everyone's midst -- unseen, unspoken.

all it took was a series of theoretically impossible events, following one upon another, to breech every defense laid in place to defend against the unthinkable.

japan's nuclear facilities at fukashima were supposedly design with multiple, redundant defenses against every potential point of failure, but from the conception through to failure, each one buckled and collapsed in turn to leave the building catastrophe in their wake.

there is the great human cost to consider, as millions are vulnerable to the caprice of the winds, carrying radioactivity across japan -- and beyond. then, the consequences are manifold, a cascade effect of  relationships between nations, economies, the works.

across the globe, stock markets tumble as the true extent of the disaster becomes evident, and the full effects begin to be apprehended by the powers that be. all at once, we begin to witness the fragility of this house of cards that we call the contemporary, globalized world.

one gets the feeling that things that were just barely being held together with bubblegum and bandaids is becoming unhinged. the US economy, the perennial "safe haven" for investors, has been so completely sacked by corporate criminals that it looks primed to take a tumble once too many people clamber on at once. asian economies will take a rude hit as the ripple effects start to radiate outward through interdependent networks of states. unease, unrest, opportunism -- a mixture of truly volatile forces come into play all at once.

i also look at the world's energy future, which is now under even more pressure. the panacea of nuclear power now looks like the deal with the devil it is. economies which were looking to diversify their mix of sources, boosting the clean, non-polluting nuclear reactor, will now have to look the limits of human ingenuity straight in the face. we're not anywhere near as smart as we pretend to ourselves we are -- by half too clever to fully anticipate and prepare for the catastrophe that's inevitable.

it's all so sad, as we watch many dreams wither and wash away. i think it's high time, however, that the human race faced the inevitable limits of our boundless and irresponsible desire for more, bigger, faster --and then more still... human societies, especially in the west, and primarily in the US, have been seduced by the insatiable oligarchs to want and consume ever more, totally out of proportion to any credible need, and far exceeding the capacity of the earth to provide the raw materials and consumables needed to run the incessant, voracious, insatiable machine that we've created to satisfy naked avarice.

the japanese disaster and its fallout are the first thread being pulled loose from a garment that will unravel day by day, leaving exposed the true wasteland that lies behind the gleaming skylines of our mighty civilization.

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