Friday, January 27, 2017

Screensaver for the Apocalypse

Yesterday's news that the Doomsday clock had moved closer to midnight sparked several of my friends to write to me; I am not known as The Apocalypse Gal for nothing.

Once I kept a watchful eye on that clock.  I thought the clock had been closer to midnight in my college years, I expected a nuclear cloud at any moment.  But no, we're closer to midnight than we have been since 1953.  Now there's cheery news.

This morning, I listened to this fascinating piece on NPR's Fresh Air about how the very rich are preparing for the apocalypse that now seems to be lurking in every shadow and tweet.  The writer travelled to a Survival Condo project, luxury condos being created in abandoned nuclear bunkers.  For just a few million, you could have one too--except that they're sold out.

The designer used tricks that cruise ships use so that survivors of the apocalypse don't feel claustrophobic.  Instead of windows, there are screens that will show scenes from a world that no longer exists.  I was struck by the woman who arranged to have the view that she would be seeing from her New York City windows--and since she's rich enough to buy a survival bunker, one assumes she has a beautiful view, not one of a squalid tenement.

Terry Gross laughed about a screensaver, an apocalyptic screensaver.  I loved that language.  I thought about the fact that I'm still writing stories and poems and sending them out--could I see this practice as a sort of screensaver too.

I had a great writing morning as I listened to the show about the ways the very rich are preparing for the end.  I am still hopeful that I might write a story a month--that means that I have a few days to finish the one that I'm working on--it's about a woman from corporate who comes on a fact-finding mission to determine the survival of the for-profit arts school, the school that is the linking device for the short stories.

I did think about the irony (not really irony?) that I was writing about the kind of apocalypse experienced by so many as I listened to this radio program about how the very rich are preparing for an apocalypse they will likely not experience in the way that they plan.

It's not that I don't believe in the possibility of apocalypse--I certainly do.  But I think it won't be the apocalypse for which we've prepared.  I have this vision of all these owners of luxury condos in the apocalyptic bunker lying sickened and dying in the hospital, felled by some flu that has no vaccine yet. 

And should humanity survive, what will future archeologists make of this site?  Will they be impressed in the ingenuity of the twenty-first century residents?  Or will they note the irony of the luxury bunkers in an age where it's increasingly harder to find affordable housing?

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