Absurdity in art creation is one of the few reasonable behaviors for us to engage in, finding ourselves as aware animals meaninglessly suffering in a world that exists by chance. The world has always been horrible, the only difference now is that we have the technology and resources to provide for the needs of everyone on the planet, and we’re stuck in an old rut of hoarding resources and accessibility, which is likely to destroy us unless we change our collective way of life drastically, and soon. Absurdity and satire are a kind of grief, a lamentation. Douglas Adams may have best critiqued our utter smallness in the vastness of space best through humor. Laughter often follows tears, the lightness of unloading weight.
We are not okay, me and those I know. We are breaking under the weight of minimum-wage work or the incapacity to work altogether due to disabilities and illnesses. Our planet is burning, a little bit more every year. The worship of profit as the top priority in every instance is costing lives in uncounted numbers. I joked ruefully with my partner the other day that the brilliance of capitalism is that it neglected to keep lists of those murdered. Instead, it buries the facts, reporting the money made alone. Nothing to report as far as the unnecessary loss of human life is concerned.
Every time I start speaking in such apparently drastic terms about the state of humanity, I get comments disagreeing with my nihilistic outlook. Prioritization of profit has caused the warming of the planet. I know that it’s still possible to lengthen the amount of time we have left with a human-inhabitable home planet, but I’m going to keep living like we’re headed in the direction of zero hour for human extinction in 80 years, because that is the direction we are currently headed, like it or not. If our course changes, and we still have at least some power to steer our course, my hope will increase with the chances, but not before.
Humanity is headed for extinction. What remains in our power is how much longer we have. But when I say “our,” I don’t really mean that all of us are powerful, because we are not. The powerful among us are hoarding all the resources, while the rest of us struggle to survive. Instead of facing our own inevitable extinction together and trying to delay it, most of us are being exploited for our time and labor, while those who are too ill or disabled or poor to work at all suffer on the brink of death constantly. The gap between the 99% and the 1% is increasing every day, with the wealth constantly flowing upward from the poor to the rich. We literally outnumber them 99 to 1, but they hold the keys to our livelihoods. They rule with violence for profit. Police across the world rob and murder civilians without repercussions. The rich are robbing and murdering the poor without repercussions. Reporting on the tyranny of the rich can get you killed.
On an individual level, there is suffering because of a system that prioritizes money. Money matters more than access to medical care. Money matters more than access to food. Money matters more than access to shelter. Money matters more than access to recovery from trauma. Money matters more than quality of life and the right to thrive. Money matters more than maintaining a livable habitat for ourselves.
Right now, the political is personal in the medical aspect, because lack of access to speedy, advanced care is leaving my partner with untreated pain. I watch him suffer every day through countless symptoms that are highly worrisome, and doctors keep shrugging him off. Even if the individuals are not motivated by profits, they are powerless in the face of the for-profit medical system here in the US.
In many countries across the world, the oppressed are rising up and demanding the right to thrive, to rebel against extinction. I long for the day when my country joins them. Until then, I will be making art to encourage those of us who understand what our species faces. Perhaps it will encourage others to speak up, too.
While I’m highlighting the flaws of life as I see it right now, I have some personal flaws to face. I avoid publishing what I write mainly because it seems too personal, too blunt, too anything-that-keeps-me-from-hitting-publish. Like I discussed in yesterday’s post, I’m fighting with perfectionism. Another thing I’m fighting, though, is the fatigue of keeping up with what’s going on. This post has taken a few hours to write, and it was a depressing one. In order to fight the overwhelm that would push me back into months upon months of silence, I want to create whatever it is that inspires and encourages those who recognize that oppression and injustice and extinction are all worth fighting. That means making art that criticizes, but it also means utilizing satire and absurdity. We need artists now, more than ever, to fight this fatigue and keep creating what keeps the human experience alive while it lasts. I hope my words offer something to the chaos.