A Young Person’s Guide to the Looming Dark Age and the Joys of Fatalism

dark age 5

In an age of enforced ignorance looking good is going to be more important than ever, for at a time when brains are of little use to you if not a chronic misery, getting the most out of your body and the pleasures of the flesh will be the key to fulfillment, sanity and longevity, if you’re crazy enough to want a long life.

Optimists, a category of people I prefer not to be around, and whose chirpy peculiarities are particularly unsuited to times like these may not understand that a perfect storm of national and state trends and constitutional anachronisms are gradually setting in concrete an agenda of widespread intellectual depletion, a demented program of willfully undersupplying, or of active arson against our collective storehouse of knowledge.

Our Taliban of the hinterlands, our Khmer Rouge sans the red bandanas fight their war against the intelligentsia and universal suffrage with their disproportionately outsized tiny or rural state representation in the halls of congress, and naturally fill high positions in their own state and local governments with persons perhaps best understood as genetically exotic creatures, shrill mutants bred through all manner of unspeakable permutations of carnality. What poor, suffering beasts in Oklahoma and Kansas who enacted the legislative moats preventing the encroachment of Sharia Law in those fair lands one can only pity.

One thing we do continue to learn year-by-year if not month-by-month is how much easier it is to eliminate knowledge than one might ever have guessed: simply pass a law against it, or a law putting something else in its place. Lawmakers in North Carolina didn’t like the sound of the report provided by their Coastal Resources Commission explaining the degree to which climate change would cause sea levels to rise on the Carolina coast, a report designed to enable preparation. Their response was to propose a law requiring that future predictions be calculated incorporating only historical data rather than current or newly collected data. You may find this suspicious, but frankly it is genius. It is extremely cost effective as well. No boondoggle spending on clean energy technology or green resources, no change in driving habits or heating methods. Don’t say today what you can gurgle underwater tomorrow.

My newest favorite is the recent proposal by House Republicans to abolish what is called the Current Population Survey produced by the Census Bureau. Census could count the population but collect no economic data. This would be the data used to calculate the unemployment rate, labor force participation, economic indicators for home ownership rates, the condition or health of American industries and international trade figures. I admit, that when it comes to eliminating unemployment I hadn’t thought of this. I’ll go out on a very sturdy limb and suggest the conservative think tank-media-industrial complex will generate a slew of fanciful statistics of its own to use instead. As with so much else in the intentionally muddied waters of the public domain these days truth and accuracy will be entirely up for grabs. Volubility and propagandistic omnipresence then will determine what is “true”.

Harkening back with a moist, toasty glow of nostalgia to the days of Soviet anti-science designed to give an official imprimatur of the scientific to the program of collectivized agriculture for instance, even while millions were starving to death due to its failure, Republican members of congress have proposed that the National Science Foundation, which produces a wealth of research and scientific investigation for use by the entire world, award grants not on the basis of peer-review assessments, but rather through permission from political appointees. In other words, confabulated, scientifically polluted oil company studies about the consequences of carbon burning for example will win the day, and funding and publication as “science,” instead of research approved through rigorous empiricism that has passed muster with similar scientists who have duplicated or validated research.

Texas, god help us, purchases such an enormous number of school textbooks major publishers of textbooks capitulate and publish only textbooks approved for use in Texas, in other words meeting the criteria set by the Texas Board of Education. Are you still in the room, or have you run howling from it in dismay? If you are still reading this and your chair is dry let me point out that these days in Texas schoolbooks, Darwin is a wild and crazy dude with a serendipitous little theory known as evolution, while the definitive understanding of species is to be found in Genesis. The New Deal didn’t make much of a historical splash, Ronald Reagan was as universally beloved as Kim Jong Un, slavery and American intervention are washed white, and climate change…you must be kidding?

Historical revisions currently under consideration are to portray witch-hunter Joseph McCarthy as an American hero, while reducing Cesar Chavez, Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King to blips in history. God I wish I was being satirical. But how do you top influential Board of Education member Don McLeroy declaring to fellow members, “Somebody’s gotta stand up to these experts”? I’ve only scratched the surface, but honestly, you can’t handle the truth, not on this one.”

Sometimes you just have to go back to the classics though. Tennessee’s original and reincarnated version of the Classroom Protection Act, or “don’t say gay” law as it has appropriately been tagged, will “prevent teachers from discussing of any sexuality except heterosexuality.” Frankly the suspense is killing me to find out if it is possible for homosexuals to still exist once homosexuality is banned from the lexicon and public school usage. If there’ a puff of smoke in the chair where Rachel Maddow used to sit every night I guess I’ll know. Yes, quite a brood of bright young things coming of age in the state of Tennessee in the near future. So gird yourself.

As it turns out, in the Electronic Age it not only is easier to convey information, it is easier to convey misinformation as well. Medievalism and technological advancement are not mutually exclusive. The Fox-Limbaugh Media Axis of Philistinism guarantees a significant number of citizens remain functionally illiterate, inherently smart perhaps, but for all practical purposes in this democracy, boobs.

What can be done? I encourage youth, or the lifelong maturity-challenged such as myself to accept your dim fate with the consoling awareness that the bright side of enforced intellectual darkness is that enormous pressure will be created for the drinks to become stronger and the drugs extremely potent. While it’s my hope to preserve as much knowledge as I am able during this ensuing era of darkness I have no intention of becoming monkish.

If sex isn’t realistically in your future there is always dancing. Dancing provocatively to sexy music is as close as you can get to sex with your clothes on aside from actually having sex with your clothes on. If drugs are a balm that reliably does the trick for you but you just can’t lay your hands on any right at the moment, well, I know a guy.

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