I heard the news today, oh boy. The stream of stories was like a dopey sophomoric science fiction novel from the 25 cent box at St. Vinnie’s — The Planet of the Consumers, or something. The Republican candidates are an unbelievable freak show. The President is a slick-talking hand puppet owned by the investment banking crime syndicate. Lecherous football coaches are fondling slippery naked boys in the shower room. Everyone is praying for economic recovery and full employment, so we can fire up our credit cards, return to engorging on trendy imported merchandise, and successfully complete our extermination of life on Earth.
Gosh! Isn’t there another channel? Day in, day out, month after month, year after year, the fire hose torrent of mindless nonsense never ends. Many are washed away forever, never to regain a toehold in reality. Living at the amazing zenith of technological civilization is like being an inmate at the loony bin — total madness, all the time.
Now, imagine this: a really cool science fiction novel suddenly materializes and beams you up into a universe that is rational, coherent, and intelligent. You soar into a beautiful, breathtaking, mind-blowing, life-changing paradise of sanity — a place where the heroes care about the Earth, about life, about the future. It’s like an LSD trip, or something. Wow! The novel is called All of the Above, written by Timothy Scott Bennett, and that’s all I’m going to say about it.
Oh, I’ll toss you a teaser. Obama was followed by James Russell, who was followed by Linda Travis, the maverick governor of Michigan. President Travis understood that industrial civilization was obliterating the planet, and it was long past time to seriously deal with huge problems. Collapse was well underway.
Obie, a homeless genius from Duluth, gave this advice to Travis: “We don’t need more of the same. We need something so different that we can barely begin to imagine it.”
The President realized that her administration needed to pursue a radically different strategy. Striving to keep planet-killing economic growth on life support would be insane. “My job is to help lead the human race through the collapse of civilization.” What a president!
Only the poets can save us now. We’re marching toward the cliff of self destruction because we lack imagination, clear thinking, and reverence for all life. We’re not going to choose a higher path until we discover that higher paths exist, and that they would be far healthier than our daffy shop-till-you-drop quagmire. Creative people can summon the power to open our minds and blast us out of our ruts. We are in desperate need of healthy songs, stories, and visions. Creative magicians need to find them, bring them back, and share them with the world. All of the Above is potent medicine, a refreshing and invigorating experience. There are, in fact, sane people out there. Oh boy!
Bennett, Timothy Scott, All of the Above, Blue Hag Books, Eastport, Maine, 2011.
Tim and his wife Sally Erickson created the documentary What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire.