I considered writing this post this morning directly onto my WordPress site, which is something I almost never do. But that would require a change of pace from my usual practice, so I’m not going to do it this time. That’s largely because I have an already existing “change of pace” today, in the form of some person yet again lying down on the bus stop bench.
It’s very annoying. I mean, I’m sure it’s probably annoying for that person, too, but I’m not the one that put them in that position‒I am all but mathematically certain of that‒but that person is the one who put me in the position of having to stand at the bus stop (and finally sit cross-legged against a tree, which put one of legs to sleep) with my back and hips and knee and ankle really giving me trouble already, writing my stupid ass blog post that maybe 5 people will actually read if I’m lucky.
By the way, there’s even someone at the “alternate” bus stop as well, apparently. It never rains but it pours, as they say. They talk too much.
I don’t know if anyone has actually read The Dark Fairy and the Desperado so far yet, but I’ve seen no feedback on it. Maybe it’s so bad that no one can get through even the modest part that I’ve written so far.
I’m still struggling to find interesting things to read; most of the science books I have are dull to me now, though I reread The Coddling of the American Mind recently, almost all the way to the end, and it was good again. I also got a new “biography” of Radiohead, titled Radiohead: Life in a Glasshouse after one of their songs, but it took me less than a day and a half of highly interrupted reading to finish‒maybe three hours, tops‒so it was engaging, but very brief.
I’m trying to start rereading Stephen King’s 11/22/63, which I remember being quite good when I read it once before. So far it’s not bad, but I don’t know how long I’ll stick to it.
I have a modest amount of trouble with the premise. Not the time travel thing, even in the atypical way King sets it up. That’s fine. It’s imaginative, and he recognizes and has the characters recognize‒and mainly just shrug in confusion, which is appropriate‒the apparent paradoxes. It’s a horror story, not science fiction, so it’s not important to get into the nuts and bolts of this curious phenomenon.
No, I have trouble with the notion that changing any event in history could have any impact on any cosmic level of stability whatsoever. I think the question of whether JFK hadn’t been assassinated only seems Earth-shattering to people who lived through it, and for the most part, the course of events doesn’t change much in any case. I suspect most Gen Z “kids” barely know who JFK was, any more than they know who Andrew Johnson was, or Pepin the Short, or Phillip of Macedon. Really, why should they know or care?
I mean, yes, history can be quite interesting, and it is good to know history, so we can try to see‒to the best of our ability‒the way events have flowed, and the sorts of mistakes and failures and successes are possible. But this is all still parochial knowledge.
The universe wouldn’t care at all if the Cuban Missile Crisis had led to World War III or if a much more devastating all-out global thermonuclear war had happened at the peak of the arms race in the 80’s and wiped out civilization*. Frankly if another asteroid the size of the K-T asteroid hit and drove 70% of all Earthly species extinct, including humans, it wouldn’t matter to the universe…indeed, if another huge impact such as the one hypothesized to have created the moon literally wiped out all life on Earth and reduced the surface to a new, partly molten “Hadean” phase again, the universe would not notice.
Probably. Very probably.
I think this notion that human deeds could endanger some kind of cosmic balance is just hubris and delusion, harking back to pre-Copernican worldviews, though I’m quite sure King is not literally so deluded. But this focus on humans (and human-like) things may be why King can never quite pull off the Lovecraftian, cosmic type horror, in which humans come to realize just how tiny they are and that even the “gods” of reality are not in any way anthropomorphic.
Though even in Lovecraft, having such “gods” is a bit of anthropomorphizing of the universe. But then, a merely dead and bleak universe does not make for a very interesting story.
Still, maybe that’s one of the reasons Stephen King is so much more generally popular than Lovecraft‒because in his worlds, the deeds of humans are not only important to humans, but they can have cosmic significance. And his bad guys are mostly very much human as well, in their character and motivations‒even the Crimson King and It.
His scariest stuff, to me, anyway, is his material along the lines of The Shining and Pet Sematary, where the evil forces are quite otherworldly, quite different, and though they certainly have malice toward humans‒the Overlook does, I’ll be bound‒even the “ghosts” in the hotel are not really the source or center of the evil. They are, if anything, just the spiritual husks of souls that the hotel‒whatever it is‒had devoured in the past, like the empty carcasses of insects in a spider web, or perhaps like trophies on a hunter’s wall.
Well, that was a meandering and surprising turn through my head. It’s curious sometimes to see what will trigger what.
By the way, I think that was the same woman from before who was sleeping at the bus stop, because she woke up just before the bus came, and she asked me something. I thought she was seeking bus fare at first, and I had to tell her that I use a monthly pass, so I don’t have any cash, but then she said something about needing to stop the buses running because of something to do with a wedding. I tried to tell her I didn’t understand, and she repeated part of it and then asked if I had heard from the children about the bus and the wedding.
All I could do was tell her I think she had mistaken me for someone else. As I suspected before, I’m pretty sure she is mentally ill, with some manner of schizophreniform disorder. Though I’m not a fan of interacting with strangers, she certainly didn’t make me feel frightened at all. She just made me feel sad.
It’s very sad to think that not only is there nothing I could do for her in my present state, there would be little anyone could do for her even in the best of circumstances available in the modern world. Mental illness is terribly difficult to treat, and it doesn’t get nearly as much scientific interest and resources as it should merit, as with so many other things.
It’s far more “important” to humans to have brand name shoes and mocha lattes and Frappuccinos from Starbucks** and to own the newest iPhone (same as the old iPhone), and to follow “celebrities” and to buy their ghost-written books.
That’s probably part of why even “cosmic” level horror stories, with rare exception, make humans so important. Humans are delusionally self-important in reality, and want even their fictional horrors to be likewise. And so, humans will continue to deceive themselves about their inherent importance, and vanishingly few of them will realize that, if humans want to become cosmically important, it’s going to be up to them to make it happen.
They aren’t inherently important, except to themselves (which is perfectly reasonable), and it seems vanishingly unlikely that any space faring, extraterrestrial civilization (if such a thing exists) will come to save humans and show them the way. Why would they? At most, they might send some disguised observers, anthropologists in the literal, outside sense. Xenobiologists, from their own point of view.
All right, that’s enough for now. It’s too much, actually. I don’t have any idea what my point is. Which may, ironically, be the point. Or maybe I’m crazy, even beyond the illnesses of which I’m aware, and this is all just a hallucination.
What a dreary, disappointing hallucination that would turn out to be. It’s not even scary. Even the truly dangerous things in the universe are banal, dreary, and not all that impressive. One would expect paranoid delusions to be frightening. But I guess that would depend on how much the amygdala and related structures are involved in the disease process.
Enough. ‘Tis done.
*That’s the sort of thing I grew up being afraid of and feeling completely powerless to prevent.
**Why is there no apostrophe in the title of the coffee giant chain? Is it meant to imply that there is more than one Starbuck, or indeed that each customer is a Starbuck? It strikes me as lazy and slipshod.