It was nuclear war. The missiles were flying. We were in a bunker of some sort, with many others. Already two bombs had hit–I saw the second mushroom cloud rise, over Vermont in the distance. A third was headed directly for us. Even with the shelter, we were doomed. Everyone was screaming. Here it comes–it’s about to hit–
And it did. But there was no mushroom cloud. No explosion at all. We crowded around to inspect it.
The missile that had hit us was not a missile, but a rocket from space filled with alien technology. Far from being the end of humanity, we were on the brink of a space opera era.
My dream got me with a plot twist. And not like a dream logic twist. Something you could actually put in a story. My own subconscious plot twisted me.
If there were any belief system that consistently produced saints–that is, if there were any system of ideas of which all its holders behaved, once they adopted said ideas, in observably good ways, to their benefit and the benefit of those they met–there were would be no more argument. All humanity would be naturally drawn to those ideas. All other ideas would die out.
That would be a disproof of nihilism.
But there is no such belief system.
“In 1641, that curious ruling prince, Charles IV de Lorraine, found himself short of cavalry horses, and without means of buying any. Nothing daunted, he raised the cry of the Church in danger, convened his clergy, and made them an eloquent address in the principal church of his capital. While he was doing so, his troopers stole all the horses of the assembled ecclesiastics.”
–W.H. Lewis, The Splendid Century
Imagine you read a book a day, 365 books a year, 3,650 books a decade. We’ll even grant that you have perfect recall; every iota of information in these books enters your brain and is fully accessible at all times. Over the course of a 65-year adulthood, you will read 23,725 books, fiction and nonfiction, cutting through all subject areas, a rich cross-section of human existence conveyed in print form.
In the United States alone, in 2015 alone, more than 700,000 titles were published.
Understanding the World is akin to putting together a 10000-piece jigsaw puzzle of which you have been given one thousand randomly selected pieces.
So in 2017 I stopped being a fiction writer. I’m not trying to write fiction anymore.
What am I doing?
On one occasion, Bob Weir and Jerry Garcia were arguing–again!–about Bob’s playing. And Bob said
“I’m searching for a part.”
To which Jerry replied
“Play a rhythm fucking part!”
I’m trying, Jerry. I’m trying.
Desperate for an anodyne to ease their hideous existence, Russian gangsters in prison have traditionally brewed chifir, a tea so strong as to be psychoactive, so bitter it can hardly be drunk.
And Starbucks doesn’t have it. I’ve been to every Starbucks in the state and they all just looked at me funny. I can see no clearer sign of the degradation of our civilization.
THIS ONE’S GOING OUT TO GENERATIONS OF CHIFIR SWILLING RUSSIAN MOBSTERS!