I GOT THIS. I holed up over the last few nights and crunched all the numbers. The Mayans – they forgot to carry the one. The end of the world is NEXT year.
I spent the (so-called) Last Day of Earthly Things reading Kurt Vonnegut on the beach in Waikiki, Hawaii. I went for a jog and had steak dinner with my family. Then I found a dive karaoke bar in Chinatown and waited. It was perfect. The paint was peeling off the walls (that old cliché) and everyone was overweight, the wrong side of 40, and drunk. I was singing Bill Withers when the clock struck midnight – just how I wanted to go out. The clock ticked over. And nothing happened. I had made my farewells. Burnt some bridges. Said goodbye to my cat. How was this possible?
Some people have been confused by this blog. They ask me: “Do you really think the world will end? Or is this in fact a parody?” No it is not a parody. There were solid scientific reasons for believing the world would end. For example, the Mayans were ancient, so had ancient wisdom, and they made a calendar that stopped at a particular time. Therefore apocalypse. Then there’s the Zodiac. And polar interstellar NASA quantum shift flibbitybizkit. “Is it, then,” some friends will ask, “some sort of existential experiment, in which you find inspiration in living AS IF the world is going to end?” Well. If that last one were true, THANK YOU FOR BREAKING DOWN THE FOURTH WALL. If it were, I wouldn’t tell you. And no. It was not true. I was totally, 100% serious. Obviously.
I thought my friends knew me.
When Joseph Smith’s scribe lost his translation of the Book of Lehi, he didn’t give up. He just made up some other, shorter version. I read an interesting story about an eschatological cult from the 1950s. It was led by a Chicago housewife named Dorothy Martin who claimed to channel messages from aliens announcing impending apocalypse. When the world did not in fact end, members became MORE committed to their beliefs, undergoing a period of enthusiastic proselytizing. Leon Festinger, the psychologist who introduced the idea of cognitive dissonance, and who had infiltrated the group, argued that their evangelism was a way to bolster their own shaken beliefs, thus reducing dissonance. They re-wrote their disappointment as a victory. I wonder if that’s also what happened with Christianity.
The difference here, of course, is that I have maths on my side. PROOF in the form of cold, unshakeable equations. I would show you the full calculations, but they’re way too complicated for you to understand. Just like Joseph Smith, though, all this has only made me more determined. Like Dorothy Martin, I feel reborn – renewed. We’ve been given a second chance. The angel of death has passed over our houses, as over the blood-painted doors of the Israelites in Egypt, and spared us. For one more year. I’m inventing a second holiday, to follow The Last Week of Earthly Things – which is where you thank everyone for the time you’ve shared together. (I might have called it Last Month of Earthly Things. Whatever, it’s week now). It’s the New Week (or so) of Earthly Things, from December 22-31. It’s where you sit about feeling grateful as Hell.
Have you thought about what this means? This second chance? The things that you can do now? This is important. Really important. Because the world IS going to end. One day.
December 21, 2013.
For me, this means that all that stuff I was talking about doing – Brazil, the Pyramids, the EP. The novel. It’s all possible.
Mae West said: “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”