Every man deserves a pat on the back once in a while. Today I give myself one because it’s long overdue.
There comes a time when most affairs and causes, wherever you look, are crooked, corrupt, or somehow turned, steeped in vested interest and no better than each other. Organizations and parties, their leaders, the infrastructure and grassroots support, all compromised. No matter who you choose, it makes little difference. It’s either business as usual or some kind of noble-sounding hell. It’s either order totally out of order, or a batshit crazy overhaul, or some kind of unfortunate hybrid that leads to even more destabilization down the line, to the weakening of countries and the communities that make them up and the values they stand for.
When that fateful moment comes, it’s time to look back to history for clues. Whatever happened before will happen again in some form or other. Fact. Sounds conveniently New Agey and oversimplified, but it’s true. Anyone with any amount of experience north of the thirty-year mark — enough time to start reliving the lives of his or her parents in some weird way — will testify to the recycling of situations. Solutions will be found to old recurring issues and life will go on, but some processes repeat themselves down the line in frightfully similar ways.
It’s a culture thing borne out of numbers, people falling prey to what preceded them, to what surrounds them, interacting en masse, unable to break free from yesterday’s atavisms, dragging each other back into loops supposedly long resolved. The same old stories recycled to fit the times. History repeating itself in some way or other, rhyming with itself, recycling and reprocessing old errors in ways all to reminiscent of the past. Fact.
Then there’s fiction. Fiction can be a great messenger, a bellwether for change, tracing out what is already in the making. The stories we make up and the universes we create in our efforts to capture some undefined part of ourselves, they oftentimes rings as true, if not truer, than reality itself.
Not all fiction is able to reach inside time and bring back something relevant, of course. A lot of it is pure entertainment, escapism, which we need to take the pressure off. It’s candy for the mind. But some made-up stories dig deeper, pointing toward timeless processes that repeat themselves down the ages, offering insight on the human condition and what drives developments.
Sometimes a good work of fiction identifies trends-in-the-making, events smaller in scope but by no means irrelevant, tracing out a specific direction.
And sometimes fiction blends with fact to create a primer, a diorama of what is happening around us.
WAKE OF LIBERTY, a story written in 2006 (Draft One), addressed the grand scale, imagining a world totally insane by 2006 standards. Based on the French revolution, it was a warning for what was just around the corner, or so the writer, Yours Truly, claimed through the story’s characters. The economy in tatters, the political scene fractured, populists and demagogs wherever you turned, running the show. The system creaking and under attack. An utterly exhausted framework pushing itself further with no long-term vision. An establishment doubling down on its errors in order to protect itself, unwilling — or unable — to address its rotting concussed heads and foundations, the panic adding to its plights, its antagonists so carried away by their zeal, they were no longer distinguishable from those they rose against. Their actions bordered on immoral and criminal, questionable both at the time they were committed as well as centuries later. Every aspect of life in turmoil and upheaval, and up for grabs. The world better off for it in the end, in overall terms — and even that is relative — but only in retrospect, after having gone through a violent transformation, a revolution that redefined and redesigned the constitution of the West, if not humanity at large.
It was all happening in WOL in 2006, and it sounded stupefyingly out of this world at the time, a story of pure fiction, to most readers anyway.
Ten years later it’s right out of today’s operating manual, if not the daily news segments, and I don’t know whether to feel proud and righteous or shake my head and wonder.
Either way, this is the reality, and I embrace it, for better or worse. The story goes on.
Watch this space for Part 2
Artwork by Gav O.