Letters,  Review

Open Letter to the Shade of Max Planck (RIP)

You once said, “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” But what if you are living in a Second Dark Age?

I am writing you at a time when world leaders are moving forward with plans for yet another preemptive invasion of the Middle East, which reminds me of when I would go with my mother to the grocery store.

Every time we went into the cereal aisle, I got my eyes bear trapped: bright cartons of cereal, their sugary rainbow bread crumbs and mascots like Captain Crunch, Tony the Tiger, and those hyper happy kids who would always say, “Silly Rabbit! Trixx are for kids.”

Every time we went down that aisle I would go cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. But my mom skillfully redirected me, asking me to go fetch something she had forgotten. The prospect of doing my mother’s bidding and a potential reward for behavior was usually enticing. And if perchance I had rebelled like an ungrateful little brat, she would raise the specter of calling the manager. I had no idea what a “manager” was at the time, but the word sounded lethal, ominous. The word had necromancy enough to paralyze me and induce compliance.

Now I have that same old smoke and mirrors feeling. I want my leaders to move forward with a net-zero carbon plan and develop alternative energy. But when all the little beggar maid towns go boom overnight, and Pimp Daddy Biggie Oil fracks the hell out of our homeland who could resist rational economic thinking? For the rest of us, there is nothing like a splendid little war to take our minds off forces seemingly beyond our control: nothing like prime time war news to feed our vicarious desires to play soldier; it’s about as exciting as fantasy football!

According to one Amazon.com reviewer, The Collapse of Western Civilization fails because “As science fiction it’s totally disappointing and it’s not like any novel I’ve ever read.”

Maybe he should go back to reading Star Wars fan fiction because this could be one of the last tolls of the bell for the Empire (or as John Ralston Saul calls it, the Dictatorship of Reason). While the reviewer does have a point–it is not so much a novel, as SF near-future history–I have found it to be prescient and terrifying, but not exactly in an entertaining Stephen King horror movie kind of way.

Excerpt: “When environmental science showed that government action was needed to protect citizens and the natural environment from unintended harms, the carbon-combustion complex began to treat science as an enemy to be fought by whatever means necessary. The very science that led the U.S. victory in World War II and dominance in the Cold War became the target of skepticism, scrutiny, and attack.”

You may have been right in your pre-cold war times. But in our times the youth have no such luxury. In the words of Kesha, a 21st-C Warrior Poetess, “Let’s make the most of the night like we’re gonna die young.”

Best Regards,

Professor of Necropastorology
Department of Chinglish Studies
University of East Asia Republic

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