Ice Friday: Ballard’s “The Drowned World”

He had been born and brought up entirely within what had once been known as the Arctic Circle – now a sub-tropical zone with an annual mean temperature of 85 degrees – and had come southward only on joining on of the ecological surveys in his early 30’s. The vast swamps and jungles had been a fabulous laboratory, the submerged cities little more than elaborate pedestals. Apart from a few older men such as Bodkin, there was no one who remembered living in them -and even during Bodkin’s childhood, the cities had been beleaguered citadels hemmed in by enormous dykes and disintegrated by panic and despair, reluctant Venices to their marriage with the sea.

Their charm and beauty lay precisely in their emptiness, in the orange junction of two extremes of nature, like a discarded crown overgrown by wild orchids.

Survival Guide: Time to Get Angry

You only have five days before the Mayan Day of Doom, and it’s time to get angry.  finchThe world is fraught with injustice, much of it self-imposed. What is wrong with us?! It is exhausting to consider. It’s so stupid! What have we done!? Arghh. You may also need try to bargain with the powers that be for a way out of your despair (“I will never eat Lucky Charms again if this world won’t end”) even if you know that none of it will work. luckyIt’s a process, one step at a time. There is a lot of angry music that might help get you in the mood, including Nine Inch Nail’s The Fragile and Rage Against the Machine’s The Battle for Los Angeles, but Sinead O’Connor’s The Lion and the Cobra captures this deep-seeded emotion most profoundly. You’re still spitting fire/ Makes no difference what you say/ You’re still a liar! sineadThere are far too many angry people-with-guns movies, and I am sick of those. Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, Wrath of God is a much better tonic. Aguirre is as angry as it gets, none other than the self-proclaimed wrath of god. aguirreYou should also read Dee Brown’s Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee, a chronicle of the systematic destruction of the Native Indians in the western United States. It underlines the errors of our ways with depressing clarity. bury my heart After that, physical labor will do you good. Burn your anger off. And if it’s still boiling, get a punching bag and have at it. daffy

Coping with the Apocalypse

Whether it’s to come by holocaust, super-storm, bio-plague or sheer boredom, Mr. Mayan has predicted that our world is to end in exactly one week: December 21, 2012. meteorsWhile the prediction is dubious at best, the exercise of what you might do if this actually were the case, is interesting. You’ve got a week. Now what? Starting today – and using the seven stages of grief – I offer my Survival Guide to the End of the World.

Today is easy. It’s all about SHOCK & DENIAL.You don’t have to do anything really.You’re numb and can deny the reality of this in order to avoid the pain. Shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once. This may last for weeks…but you only have the day. Anyway, you just need to deny what’s coming up. Nothing more.

First of all, I recommend some music. A long and involved listening to the Grateful Dead’s Dick’s Picks Volume 16, Filmore 11/8/69 is ideal. No need to think. Just relax your mind and go with it.dicks pick After this, you might consider watching the film, Superbad (Greg Mottola). It’s so excellent because it’s so stupid, one of the most genius dumb-ass films ever made.superbad And, if you are able focus yourself for any time, try and read Joseph Heller’s Catch 22. Everyone’s in denial throughout the story; nothing is as it should be. And that’s good, right? catch And finally, you should do something different. Maybe juggle or kayak. Have your fortune read– Oh, maybe not that. I’m going to see a new band: Grizzly Bear. grizzlyAnd maybe I’ll take a pedi-cab after that. Arggh! (That’s a Grizzly roar.)