Apocalypse Now: the Nightmare Coming True
By its actions it seems a baby but very strong, very large, very willful and completely and totally insane; multiple personality disorder compounded by extreme paranoia with internal and external manifestations; homicidal urges all too frequently satisfied. Its fury is so ubiquitous that it is consuming itself, and not figuratively, its bloodstained teeth sharpened, traces of quivering flesh dribbling down its chin, its clawed hands digging at its chest seeking to tear out and devour its own heart, difficult as that concept might seem to anyone still sane.
Self-destruction would be a blessing if it were limited to self, but it’s not; it strikes out at everything and is so self-delusionally incoherent, so given to constant reinforcement at a geometrical rate, that any sane vestigial traces of self-restraint are becoming increasingly afflicted with despair, wiping out any illusions of hope.
From a distance brothers look on, flabbergasted. They wonder at their own sanity given the improbability of what they’re seeing but also despairing at the spreading contagion, hitting all too many other shores. The optimist among them explain, as they’ve been doing for a very long time, that the worst must already have passed, but once again they’re apparently wrong.
I have a lot of family living in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, as it now calls itself, all members of the anti-Chavista opposition. From a neighboring republic I am sometimes asked to comment in local media about developments there and my conclusion is always sad and somewhat despairing, the government is inept and the opposition is malevolent. It’s an example of the depths to which extreme polarization will lead a people, where the common good is utterly irrelevant, where the only coin deemed worth having is power, the total destruction, the extinction of the opposition. Still, that sister republic’s form of insanity is largely self-contained. Unfortunately, a much more virulent strain of that virus has spread north and it seems immune to any form of treatment. Even worse, it’s become pandemic, especially in the Middle East, but it’s also threatening all of Eurasia which had perceived itself only a carrier.
I have a friend, Bruno Boccara, who has a hypothesis he’s been putting to the test during the past decade. It involves treatments for societies emerging from internal conflicts through a variant on psychotherapy, recognizing that there are very strong reactions against change, even very positive change, reactions that cannot be ignoredñ which even if based on false premises create dangerous realities with all too tangible consequences. But how to treat a society becoming increasingly dangerous both to itself and to everything around it?
In the distance four horsemen with gleaming golden trumpets smile and place them to their lips, tasting their sounds, preparing for the conductor’s baton to signal the start of their symphony. Bass drums beat a thundering introductory crescendo accompanied by clashing symbols. Violins and oboes and flutes lie quiet.
I see them as do others, but we’re frozen, as if in one of those self-aware dreams from which escape is denied. And even if we escape, other than by waking from the horrible nightmare, what can we do?
Especially when it turns out that the nightmare is true.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2017; all rights reserved