Monday, June 30, 2008

The View From My Bicycle (COLUMN)

The oil genie emerges

I watched a movie on Friday - Kung Fu Panda. It features an overweight Panda (an endangered species)voiced by Jack Black that becomes the 'Dragon Warrior', the most dangerous and feared warrior in the world.

Tai Lung: You... you're just a big... fat... panda!
Po: I'm not a big fat panda. I'm *the* big fat panda.

The Panda loses no weight in achieving this feat of skill - it achieves glory thanks to legend and 'believing in himself' and some incidental practise over a short period of time. This 'wishful thinking' is the seat of our delusion as society. That by believing something (in the spiritual theme of 'The Secret'), we can be something, we can get 'something for nothing'. No effort or real change is actually necessary. Easy huh?

Po: Legend tells of a legendary warrior whose kung fu skills were the stuff of legend.
The movie also stars the voices of Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu and Dustin Hoffman.

I enjoyed the movie. The mournful touches of oriental music struck a strange cord in me, one that made me feel the sense of saying goodbye to childhood, to innocence, to life itself.

While lounging in the sun over breakfast this morning, I discussed, among other things, the cultural schizophrenia of our time. The two men I breakfasted with had just completed a pat-on-the-back session about how to trick the opposite sex into liking you. Yes, it is a game, but I am sickened by manipulative and delusional behaviour, because society is rife with it. One of the guys asked me if the world ever didn't suffer from cultural schizophrenia. I realised again that so many people are still so far away from even beginning to think about energy and all the rest. What matters is playing the role of prince of the city, having the right car, and clothes, and job, and accumulating a series of experiences that boost the ego... There is no doubt that the disconnect between reality and the reigning societal mindset has never been more chronic than it is now, and probably will never reach this level again.

In 2 weeks, Dark Knight hits cinemas, a movie that starred the late Heath ledger, in the role of the Joker. The role - and its madness - arguably cost him his life. And the Joker in Dark Knight sums up the future in these three words:
Why So Serious?
There is probably not a diametrically opposite movie to Dark Knight than Kung Fu Panda. Dark Knight is dark, serious, gritty and real. Director Nolan has gone out of his way to show a superhero that has no special powers, and part of this effort has been a minimal use of special effects. Because Batman is real. Cuddly Kung Fu Panda is something like the Joker, except not murderous, nor prickly, nor mad.

From my bicycle, I see Dark Knight movie posters and I cannot think of a more appropriate movie (or even name for a movie) to usher us towards 2009/2010 and beyond. Mark my words, the next weeks and months will present us all with a reality check. We are likely to see vast swathes of value wiped off the world's stock exchanges. This may happen as soon as August, but we are certainly very close to some radical changes, and of course, we're already experiencing the first in a series of these (starting this Wednesday, and on and on and on...).

Africa is also increasingly becoming the setting for a battle between China and the USA (see below). In 10 years, both the USA and China will be importing more oil from the Gulf of Guinea (a coup in Guinea has been prevented recently, orchestrated by western powers) and Angola respectively. But when shortages take effect, the USA will not be pussyfooting around China, and a direct engagement with a major power (and both are nuclear powers) will be a virtual certainty.

As such, our position here in South Africa, at the ass-end of Africa, is becoming of increasing significance globally. Where will we stand if called upon to take a stand? Chinese nationals have recently been offered BEE status. Will South Africa become an agent of the Chinese, or the USA? Where will we stand? Because of the position Mbeki and other leaders have held for so long on Zimbabwe (Mugabe has not wasted an opportunity to express their hatred of colonising powers like Britain and America) I believe SA, and most of Africa, will stand with China. As such, the continent will burn in the crossfire.

Harvey Dent: The night is darkest just before the dawn. And I promise you, the dawn is coming!

I am also increasingly of the opinion that going into this Long Emergency Phase alone is not ideal. Better to be married or part of a community. Now though is not the best time to take young children into the theatre, but learning to take care of our children may remind us of how precious life is as we go into a period where many will be lost. The pressure is on, and the gauge of that pressure is an oil price that is now like a genie with its head out of the bottle. When we hit $150, probably by no later than Christmas, the oil genie will begin to operate all the tipping points upon which civilisation as we know it, turns.

We can prepare mentally, physically and spiritually in the mean time. Or we can enjoy the wee hours of the morning, while the party is still in full swing. Either behaviour, it seems to me, makes equal sense.

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