Unwarranted Ennui

Try to be positive. But beware that positivity may be impossible some days. Some days drip with sarcasm and skepticism. It’s hard to say why. Even after good news, positive experiences, and a good breakfast, the world can slit the throat of positivity. It will return one day; just be aware of the sutures keeping  the skin around its neck from flapping in the breeze.


I feel an immeasurable sense of weariness with the world. Ennui doesn’t begin to describe it. Afghanistan. COVID. Vaccination rage. Uneducated hillbillies who believe deeply in their superiority and in the words of moronic preachers whose sermons ooze ignorance and anti-Christian philosophies in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. Mothers who refuse to require their children to use seat belts because “God will protect us.”  I shake my head from side to side in response to my own question: “Can I do anything to emerge from this disappointment with humanity?”


If that’s not cheery enough…Do not read on if you fancy a day filled with lollipops and daisies.

Science fiction has a history of accurately predicting the future. Sometimes. But it’s not the only literary genre that offers a glimpse of life as it might—and often does—become. Political thrillers, too, have painted pictures of futures that came to pass. Political satire has done the same. Dystopian novels give us snapshots of futures we hope never to see but which increasingly seem likely, given the apparent degradation of civility, compassion, and simple human decency.

Literature has long disguised the crystal ball peering into the future. We  believed crystal balls were imaginary, make-believe glances forward into a time that has not yet come to be. But crystal balls are real, regardless of material or configuration. Crystal spheres they are not, though. They comprise writers’ imaginations, coupled with either cursory or deeply analytical assessments of the real world around us. The crystal ball is a “what if” device that produces alternate futures delivered by way of printing presses, Kindle e-readers, blogs, print-on-demand technologies, and myriad other ways of looking into the future.

Too often, we read writers’ warnings as if fiction is just a pleasant (or a jarring) pastime. In reality, whether the writer and/or the reader know it, fiction often carries an urgent and ominous caution about what is to come “in the real world.” Fiction, whatever its form, often warns us to change our ways if we wish to avoid cataclysmic failures of human society and the agonies associated therewith. At our peril, we flinch and giggle, hoping the messages are simply artificial alerts delivered by doomsday alarmists.

But fiction can be wrong, too. Fiction can predict fabulous tomorrows when, in fact, the future can turn murky and dark and violent. Today is not the stunningly beautiful destination we raced toward as children. It is more like a return to cholera and smallpox and polio, steeped in a slurry of gasoline and methamphetamine. This yesterday’s tomorrow is one in which pharamacists mainline heroin and worship science-deniers. It is a time when the collective “we” drowns children simply to spite the water and their swimming instructors. It is a time in which nurses, their syringes filled with super-dose warfarin, carry axes and don white hoods before entering medical clinics in poor neighborhoods.

This moment in history will be the one that will not appear in history books because books are being taken to alternative libraries, where they will be banned and burned. Or maybe not. Maybe skilled theologians troll the shores of the Gulf of Mexico for freshwater antelope while snorting FDA-approved cocaine. The point is this: today is both tomorrow’s yesterday and yesterday’s tomorrow, Simultaneously, it is a chaotic mix of irrationality and understandable fear. We have every right and reason to be afraid. Marauding gangs of deeply stupid motorcyclists could reach your street as soon as now. They are, most probably, outside your window at this moment, ready to fling vats of maggot-infested meat and blood through your open doors.


Indoor-outdoor carpet should be delivered soon. Who knows what happens after that? I’m down for no discernible reason. In fact, my mood is utterly at odds with all the good news surrounding me. WTF, I ask? WTF?

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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