This piece nails the tension between history and memory, a tricky landscape that I’ve been trying to write about lately. How do we know where to place ourselves in the past when we’re stuck in the present? What is the real story this year? Life is not a movie, so how are we supposed to make sense of all this extraordinary outrage in America?
“The real question is, who are you?” Indi Samarajivaasks. “I mean, you’re reading this. You have the leisure to ponder American collapse like it’s even a question. The people really experiencing it already know.”
The upcoming election seems like an obvious tipping point, but it’s not difficult to imagine that we’ve been sliding into an authoritarian nightmare for much longer than the past four years. Like so much of history, though, there are no signposts along the way, only the “dull and unlocatable roar” as Don DeLillo would describe it, “just outside the range of human apprehension.”
I’m less interested in laying the collapse at the feet of a chump president and his all-time loser family, but, no, his tendencies aren’t helping anyone. His inclinations and savage outbursts. He is capable of delivering far more damage to the American psyche than we need right now, but so too can the restless and blind-angry society devour its own. Imagine how much worse it can get in America (leaf through history books, pull up some documentaries on Netflix, take a look at all the many examples of collapse in human history), and then add in the particularly flavorful elements of 21st-century surveillance and climate crisis.
I’m not writing this to bring ya down, man, not at all. But I’ll echo Samarajiva in this piece right here: Who are you? What values guide your decision-making? How do you realize happiness?