Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Kunstler: As good as it gets

May 8, 2006 Riding the van out of the airport Friday night to the Park-and-Fly lot, with the planes floating down in the distant violet gloaming, an eerie recognition came over me that life today is as much like science fiction as it will ever get -- at least as far ahead as I can see. Some of my friends' kids may never fly in airplanes. They may never own cars. At some point twenty, thirty years ahead, they may not take for granted throwing a light switch in a dark room.

Our sense of normality will be coming up for review soon, and hardly anybody seems ready to face it. The now-consistently moronic New York Times played a story in the Sunday business section which said that "consumers" were just shrugging off three-dollar gasoline and spending like gangbusters in the super discount box stores. It seems not to have occurred to the editors that perhaps three dollars a gallon is not the final destination of our pump prices. They were so triumphal over the public's supernatural immunity to the three-dollar-flu that they failed to essay what four-dollar or even five-dollar a gallon gasoline might do to America's shopping heroes.

My own guess is that it is liable to drive the NASCAR grandstand ticket prices a wee bit higher, at least. But such is the mood of the nation on the cusp of the summer driving season. What the Timesmen/women might have also missed is the fact that all that heroic shopping is being accomplished with "money" as yet unearned -- on plastic, that is. The three-dollar a gallon fill-up isn't causing any pain because nobody is forking over actual dollar bills, and the same thing with those $1500 plasma flat screen TVs that the hero consumers are scooping up so valiantly from the Best Buy loading docks.

I think our future perception of all this will be as a kind of reverse science fiction -- in the sense that sci fi has until now always been presumed to take place in the future. The science fiction of my friends' children will take place in the past. When some of them are old, the omnipresent electric power of this time, and all the wonders that ran on it, will seem like an unfathomable occult force that saturated the world like a spell. They will tell stories about it in the flickering firelight, and their grandchildren will blink in amazement. It's too bad they will never see a Harry Potter movie, with its utterly blase and incessant deployments of magic. These children of the future will be astonished when somebody manages to roast a parsnip.

Ps. Will post photos of Fauresmith on Thursday night. Sorry for delay!

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