[ by Charles Cameron — can’t think why you’d need three stunners, or two six-shooters for that matter — stun once and done, sez I ]
My first stunner is from an LRB piece about Margaret Atwood, it’s opening paragraph invoking PD James instead, and what a powerful description of what I think I’ll call a Falling Curtain Event — an event such as climate change which offers so great a threat that arguably we should drop all other activities to attend to it.
For a quick dystopia, then — this:
In P.D. James’s strangest novel, The Children of Men (1992), humans stop being able to get pregnant, and no one can figure out why. Scientific research comes to nothing. Years pass without a newborn child. All the nurseries close, then all the schools. With no hope of posterity, landowners let their estates rot; scholars take up golf. Only the richest or best-connected are able to get a place in one of the increasingly rare care homes, run by increasingly senescent carers. Without children or grandchildren, people dote on their pets, and envy them for still being able to reproduce. When a small deer wanders into an Oxford chapel, the chaplain rushes at it, hurling prayerbooks: ‘Christ, why can’t they wait? Bloody animals. They’ll have it all soon enough. Why can’t they wait?’
Second, a no less stunning foretaste of our current actual situation politically, from the dialog of episode 7 of the TV series, The People v. O.J. Simpson:
I mean, we have hard evidence, and they razzle-dazzle a bunch of conspiracy nonsense into big moments. Now, we need to make our own big moments that land with the jury. That is how we beat the nonsense. Now, can we focus on that?
Do I hear a prophecy here, life about to imitate art? Beware the Jabberwock, my son..
Let me close with another stunning Falling Curtain Event, this one from a Dylan live performance:
It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there — how’s that for a curtain falling?
On the one hand, it’s night falling, any night. But that’s the lyrics, the musical delivery is fatigued, so, so very weary: as the lyrics say, Time is running away.
More lines that, in their diverse ways, tell you of that fatigue, that flesh, bone, mind, soul weariness:
There’s not even room enough to be anywhere
I ain’t looking for nothing in anyone’s eyes
Sometimes my burden seems more than I can bear
I know it looks like I’m moving, but I’m standing still
I can’t even remember what it was I came here to get away from
Behind every beautiful thing there’s been some kind of pain<
So many ways, running down..
It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there
Superb performance of a great song– and to m=y mind, apocalyptic without ever saying so explicitly — just that sense of thr curtain, falling .