Weather Fronts

Somehow all the books came too late. The ability to read that I had lost for I don’t know how long finally returned and I started to read books again. Not many, often interrupted by days, sometimes weeks, but steadily, and I could turn the pages, soak in stories that told the stories of old weather fronts in the skies of men. Weather fronts in the skies. Which I had followed, at least the more recent ones, reading news articles on the web. So I was acquainted with the winds, or rather, the heavenly currents that underlie this meandering that clouds are often only the visible foam of. The currents were visible, if only by watching the weather fronts, those dark greyish blue heavy agglomerations that filled the skies beyond the eyes’ capacities to grasp. It was all there. We all could see. Still, most drew the wrong conclusions.

When times come to an end, when epochs close, turmoil and conflicts arise. That’s how most people see it. But it is different. When things tend to become clear-cut, conclusive, one-dimensional, that’s when conflicts, turmoil, even violence arise. Conflicts, turmoil, violence don’t bring about the end of a time but are the result of a time that is becoming a certain way. And it is this way, not the time that births them. In that sense, most dystopian science fiction gets things wrong. They not so much exhibit some form of end times, although they may convey the character and the flair of a dystopian a-temporality. They rather describe processes of dwindling options, receding alternatives, vanishing perspectives, and with that: the loss of hope that things could be different. Only after things seem settled, realities fixed, the shape of the long everlasting Now decided, is it that the cataclysms occur. As long as there are still factions or factors competing, the catastrophes are still in the offing.

So when I finally recovered and became able to read again, the books already came too late. The loss of alternatives and political options had already hardened into a brutish insistence on practical constraints. Things needed to be thus-and-so, and it was pretty irrelevant if that meant the political, the economic, or the personal sphere. It was the time when it became clear that the war was only months away. Things had dwindled in their manifoldness, facts had become single-minded ways that shunned rivals. The lust and the need for power recommended itself not as politicians’ whim, but as a practical constraint for survival in times that appeared to have miraculously turned harder and harder. The war that was about to come was not to begin because other means of engagement had been exhausted; it was to come because those means of engagement had been so efficient and successful, had been applied by everybody, had first created the same flair, then contributed to the same reality of uniformity. The end of history, like some had called a somewhat related phenomenon of years earlier, had been declared short-sightedly and wrongly, not because it took the a-temporal long Now of missing options and alternatives at face value, as a sign for an everlasting epoch of political and economic “being thusly”. What the talk of the end of history had missed was that by becoming uniform, “thusly”, things themselves turned into the source of violent upheaval. The end was not a “thus” but a beginning, the beginning of a new war that was meant to tear apart the one-sidedness of the long Now, to return the world to a state of renewed options, perspectives, even paths. The weather fronts that could be seen in the skies were the signs not of a history past but of things to change. As simple foam they were the faces of people; as the current’s foam they were the tide just before breaking to the trough.

When I sat there at the close of the year 2016, I was awaiting the war to start some time in the year 2017. And at some point it didn’t even seem to matter whether I could detect the signs via the books I was again able to read, or whether I could corroborate my feelings with words of those telling from other weather fronts of former times. It made no real difference anymore, now, at last, in the short moment of a deep sad breath, as the first drops began dripping from the skies, then turned into the heavy rain that was meant to last for a long time. Like most, I had missed the opportunity to build an ark for the things to survive into the new times.

 

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