Sunday, September 18, 2005

Neap, Spring, Ebb, Flood

Time, one hears, is nature’s way of keeping everything from happening at once. If that’s true, it must have gotten the position as a political favor from Karl Rove because it hasn’t been doing a very good job lately. The present situation is hard to address either analytically or politically because what’s important about it relates simultaneously to so many trends and cycles, each of which has a different scale and rhythm. Thus the Bush regime, which in many ways reprises the familiar program of other corrupt American administrations (Grant, Harding, Reagan), practices its entrepreneurial politics at a time when the consequences of looting the nation have far greater consequences, not only domestically in a nation with far less margin for error than before but abroad, too, since the gears of the conservative machine mesh with the operation of the whole world. Ideological stupidity and political criminality that once has largely local consequences becomes something quite different when it takes place at or near the inflection point of so many fundamental historical trends including the end of cheap oil and the demographic transition of the human population and at a time when the planet itself is undergoing an ecological, meteorological, and even chemical revolution. And that’s not to factor in the spiritual and civilizational fits underway in the realm of culture, the migration vast numbers of people across the globe, and the incalculable prospect of the wild cards dealt into the game at random intervals by the scientists. What we’re dealing with here is the motorized version of Russian dolls— “their construction being as it were a wheel within a wheel” (Ezekiel 1:16). Or maybe the Mayans, whose conception of time featured a whole set of nested cycles, were right in understanding that calamity or creation naturally occur when all the digits of the cosmic odometer turn over at once, as, by the way, they are scheduled to do when the Long Count begins again on December 21, 2012.

As the acronym SNAFU indicates, problems are not anomalies and normally provide no occasion for panic. Indeed, managing, like walking, is essential a controlled stumble. What we’re dealing with, unfortunately, is a reduplication of crises, a crisis crisis, which the public mind is especially ill suited to comprehend since of all the cycles in play, the narrowest is the news cycle.

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