By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
"The universe is forever falling apart- No need to – push the button It collapses at a finger's touch: Why, it barely hangs on the tail of a Sparrow’s eye." —Shinkichi Takahashi
SEVEN YEAR-OLD NINA pressed her face to the car window as her mother drove past the floodlit Capitol Dome and said, "I wonder what it will be like when it falls?"
The Dome looked fairly solid to her mother, who asked, "What makes you think it will fall?"
"Oh, everything falls," is what Nina casually informed her mother. Of course, Nina will not always be so casual about everything falling as she was in the car that night. All reports say that by the end of her next seven years (1985), she'll have to deal with what drugs she will and will not use, and she'll probably have to deal with the loss of her very energetic virginity. Even now she has problems she doesn't know about. Already she reads at a fluid fourth-grade level, higher than most high-school graduates in most black ghettos. So, already there is an immense gap between Nina and huge blocks of people with whom she must share her civilization. She is white and well-off and American, which by definition separates her from most, of the world- worst of all, it deprives her of the possibility of knowing that she's separated. Discovering this will he painful, if she discovers it at all, and she'll have no help from her school or from any of the media she delights in. Poor kid, she's independent and very bright, and that will likely separate her from most of her own kind as well.
Which is to say, there's a lot that won't have changed by 2002. The distortions of that year are already alive and well in Nina.
The anticipated changes aren’t very pleasant. Government-funded studies say that statistically Nina is part of a generation more likely than any before to go insane, be directly exposed to violence and contract cancer.
The message between the lines is: There is no way to protect her.
God, there's no way even to answerher. One report cites what is referred to with frightening understatement as an "alarming increase" in suicide among children Nina's age. As though some of them understand. They seem not to have developed our grown-up resistance to the incredible.The Incredibility Gap
CALL IT OUR INCREDIBILITY GAP: the ability to know what's going on while we try to live as though it's not happening. When you think about it at all, what's going on is incre dible. We know we're driven literally mad by noise, overcrowding, sensurround media, meaningless work and pervasive, crippling impurities in our air, food and water. And it is incredible that radioactive wastes with half-lives of tens of thousands of years are stored undersea as follows:
* The United States uses stainless steel containers which there is no reason to expect will last for tens of thousands of years, though they may be good for perhaps a thousand.
*The British use fiberglass containers, much less durable than our stainless-steel.
*The Russians, the mad Russians, use reinforced concrete containers that could. split with a good jolt and are famous for their erosion. American scientists don't expect them to last for 50 years.
The late Justice William 0. Douglas was fond of citing these facts in his last lectures. "The awful has already happened," he'd tell his troubled audiences, pointing out that even one nuclear waste container, might be enough to kill the sea, which would destroy the world.
It's also incredible that the X-rays we take for granted cause cancer that the pollutants in the air could raise/lower (take your pick of the theories) the Earth's temperature, causing floods/ice-ages ... that no one has had time to test the long-range effects of most chemicals in our foods ...
But why go on? Most of us know all this already. We just pretend that it's not important. The incredibility gap is our ability to act as though none of this reallyhas anything to do with us.
If this were the attitude of one individual toward his personal problems, it would be considered a form of mental illness. When merely to get through their daily lives all the individuals of a civilization are forced to indulge in this form of mental illness-and are compelled to encourage it in others-then the basic energy of daily life it self has become insane.
That statement is immense. Still, there's nothing to do but acknowledge it and then enact it; in other words, nothing to do but go on living as if it were not dangerous to ignore that life has become flat out crazy.
The circle is vicious and perfectly round.
When things have, gone this far, there is no longer a question of hope orpessimism. We live on, best we can, and share a sense of waiting. It's inconceivable that it won’t all come to a head, somehow; but there are so many variables, it's impossible to anticipate the way. Somewhere on the other side of whatever culminations are in store, we sense the possibility of a real Iife-a life in which, whatever its, hazards, one's best acts, feelings and thoughts would not be made ridiculous by the mere presence of massive irrationality.Technological Nirvana
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