Return to Dystopia (or Paradise Regained, … Sort of): can things get any better?

Prometheus looks warily at a large storage jar, a “pithos” (not a box), one once opened and seemingly somehow thereafter closed.  It is making raucous noises but not being a “box” is neither a radio nor a television set nor a computer nor a cell phone.  It seems incredibly ancient but somehow seductive.  It has a tag.  “Property of Anesidora, if found, please do not, under any circumstances open, … again”.  A chorus shouts, “let us out!  We’ll be good!  We promise!”  Prometheus assumes that he is just dreaming again and wakes with a start, cold sweat covering his body, a vulture at his side, smirking.  Prometheus’ hands, as seemingly always, are shackled and he is hanging from a cliff bearing the well-worn hollows of his body.  “Neither rain nor sleet nor storm” he thinks.  From somewhere or perhaps everywhere, thunderous laughter shrieks.  “Damned Zeus” whispers Prometheus.  Nope, not a dream, he realizes.

From within the “pithos” a skinny, ill-kempt white young male with a bad complexion and uncut grizzly hair is pontificating.  His wealthy parents look on, both proud and horrified.  Consistency is not their strong point, they are orthodox oxymorons.  The Pithos is like a woman’s purse.  In a sense, it was the first purse.  And it contains much more than the laws of physics permit.

Veracity is dead”, the youth is shouting, “long live dysfunctional creativity, incoherent discontinuity; chaos, but drained of color and context; shades of gray lost in shadows batting away at echoes. Echoes imply a static source calling from the past but the past is for us to decide”.  Apparently the youth believes himself a poet, a dark poet.  He’s heard somewhere that dark poets are very successful with impressionable young ladies.

Strange that a cacophony of something akin to cheers from disparate multitudes can originate in such a relatively small container, even if it is a sort of purse, but it does, perhaps it has something to do with quantum physics and Schrodinger’s cat, as well.  A monologue ensues:

The cheers are thunderous!!!!  So thunderous that the Pithos cracks and everyone escapes.  Millions of “everyones”, each being independent as anarchy requires.  And that’s a lot or anarchists shouting in unison, many holding identical pre-printed signs and all wearing black, uniformish attire.  Interesting.

Only the present counts, today is too long, too many variables but concurrently, not enough; make it minutes, or better yet seconds, or even better, nano seconds.  Yesterdays are mutable and day before yesterday, more mutable yet.  History always was a tapestry of lies so why not just keep it rotating, flexing, withdrawing and then, perhaps, every once in a while, or maybe, just once, returning.  Hell, why crystalize into only one version, we know that can’t be right.  If we recall every possible version of history, one has to be right, or at least probably right.  What about an individual history for everyone, but not a static history, one that changes for each of us at least several times a day.

If the past is flexible we need never have regrets, need never be wrong, need never have made mistakes.  All we need to create this panacea is the certain knowledge that everyone else is wrong, perhaps even insane, or even better, malevolent.  They know we’re right and just refuse to admit it.

What a wonderful world and we owe it to our friends on CNN, and MSNBC, and the Huffington Post, and Fox News, and the New York Times and the Washington Post.  Three cheers for our friends from corporate-media-land who are busy twenty-four hours a day seven days a week recreating our flawed reality and keeping things interesting.

The youth concludes his diatribe with a call to arms, … sort of: 

Dystopia rhymes with utopia so it can’t be all bad!!!!  And utopias sound boring.  Dystopias are definitely not that.  Rules are bad, liberty is great, boundaries are off-putting.  Freedom now!!!  Back to the State of Nature which we ought never to have left, assuming we ever did.  Join the Dystopian Party now!!

Prometheus, however, is too busy to care, after all, once again, he is losing his liver in a very unpleasant manner.  And worse, he has to listen to Zeus gloat:  “so cousin, still think it was worth stealing the fire and giving it to your pets?”

Once more Zeus’ laughter thunders, as does his latest taunt: “Biden versus Trump, and we thought Clinton versus Trump was a show stopper.  Can things get any better??

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic consultant employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at and much of his writing is available through his blog at

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