Thursday, February 16, 2023

The Collapse LXXXXI: One Year On

27 April 20XX+1

My Dear Lucilius:

I make note of the fact that, according to my records, it has been a year since I first re-initiated contact with you.

That sounds terribly dry, does it not? It reminds me of the days when we would receive unsolicited mail with “We Have Been Trying To Reach You” scrawled across the front of the envelope as if generated by a real person instead of a printer; the appearance of personalized instead of the actuality of it. One would think that after the year we have had, I could at least approach something more of a colloquial nature.

I laugh silently of course; I do not think that colloquial is in me.

I had not suspected, when I sent that first missive to you, that somehow it would form what has become the effective chronicling of a slow and steady unraveling of everything – perhaps one might argue a sort of foolish luck. It was not quite luck of course, but rather the visit of minor level bureaucrats imploring me to do something I had not considered in some years – actually paying attention to the world around me – that caused me to take various actions including, of course, writing to you.

It does make me ponder the nature of being aware.

The circumstances that we find ourselves in – you with Our Friend and your new love where we grew up, I here far away, both of us in the compost heap of what was a civilization – certainly did not just occur in the course of three months over the Summer last year. The decay had been present for many years prior to that, a rot and decay slowly spreading throughout not just one institution that supported civilization, but all of them.

One can argue that this should have been paid attention to more. And possibly it was, on the level that our society had come to pay attention to such things: big, brash, lurid failures and intellectual wars made the headlines and generated reaction and counter-reaction. The smaller things – the thousand things that make up a civilization – did not merit the same amount of attention even though they, in the end, proved to be the more damaging.

Should we have been more aware? Could we have been more aware? Possibly – but at least for myself and from the conversations we had for you as well, we found ourselves at a period and point in our lives that such issues interested us not at all. We were no longer building careers or families or fortunes and had come to desire only quiet and peace. The ascetics sought out isolated places to find such things and perhaps we, in our way, simply did the same – or as much as we could in the modern world.

Spring is more and more on the horizon here as the days continue to lengthen – which is greatly appreciated, given the fact that this is likely the last Spring that we can count on scraps of our former civilization supplying our needs in a meaningful way. There is much to do – and much I should make a habit of documenting in our letters (as if you were getting these at this point): the bees are coming out more in the finer weather, the quail have begun to lay again (with the knowledge I will need them to reproduce this year for sure), the seedlings have all been started in the greenhouse, and the Winter Wheat is remembering that it is time to finish what it had started last Autumn.

Of course, the other items as well: house rabbits to indulge, books to re-read, and a thousand and one small tasks that continually need completing and now – freed in some fashion from even the minimal trappings of society that I formerly lived with – have at least some time to attend to.

And, I am now reliably informed by Pompeia Paulina, tea on Tuesdays. As apparently this is now a thing.

It has been a long year Lucilius, and one full of both tragedy and hardship in ways that could not be imagined when I wrote you. And yet, I find myself in a strange way more hopeful than ever.

Your Obedient Servant, Seneca


  1. Anonymous2:40 AM

    Why does the Simon and Garfunckel song 'Hazy Shade of Winter' keep playing in the background ?

    1. Nylon123:23 AM

      The Bangles did a superb cover of that song. How many people see the collapse as it is happening TB? Everyday life occupies folks until it doesn't.

    2. (Having never heard of this song, quickly scuttles off to find Simon and Garfunkel's and The Bangles' editions...)

      That is really it. Completely accidental, as I had no idea the song existed at all.

      Nylon12 - We generally suffer from normality basis. Most will simply try to continue to fit ongoing events into the patterns that they recognize, up to the point that those patterns completely dissolve. The archetype, I suppose, is people who fail to see their water source is failing, do nothing, and then eventually die rather than search out a different location with a new source of water.

  2. Good "fictional history".

  3. "The nature of being aware." Good phrase. Dan and I were discussing the awareness (or lack of awareness) of people the other day. It's rather mind-boggling that so many people can't see and analyze the events of the times. I've always thought that they were so invested in their concept of reality that they were wearing self-appointed blinders, a denialism of sorts.

    On the other hand, so many things are being thrown at us that there's never enough time to try to contemplate what it means and where it's going.

    Or, maybe it isn't in some folks' nature to be aware. Maybe it's a trait or ability not shared in common by all people. I don't know. Puzzling.

    1. Leigh - Like many things, I suspect people have some level to which they are more or less "aware", and it can be in different things. For example, I am almost the last one in a room ever to understand when there is some kind of relationship issue (good or bad) going on in front of me, but I am highly aware and sensitive to a multitude of small things that arise in a business that may indicate good or bad things - mostly because I have been impacted by it.

      Perhaps that is it: how we have been impacted. Once burned, we watch out for stoves all the time.

      But you are correct: there is so much being thrown out at people today, and so much of that clamors for "this is the important thing that must be paid attention to". It is overwhelming - and exhausting. Perhaps that is yet another advantage of times gone by - yes, there was less information, but also less information to distract or confuse one.


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