Obama as our Gorbachev:
It was one thing to know this was true, another living through it. We knew George Bush was a dolt, that Cheney is evil. It was so easy to blame it all on stupidity and fear. Now we have to swallow the defeat of the bright and the clever, the constitutionally unflappable, confident, capable, the can-doers, the eighty-hours a week-ers with time to play hoops and throw a party on the weekend.
They can’t fix this. They’re in the early stages of a rising awareness that all the audacity they can muster and all the right degrees they’ve collected won’t help them. Calling a meeting, working up a contingency plan? Nothing….
They thought inexorable was the quality of fierceness they “bring to the game.” Now they begin to see that what is inexorable are the consequences of treating life as a game. It’s the shock, the stunned, cold recognition of the gun-shot. The surprise, the scramble to find a “positive” spin, to underplay how bad it all is until all at once. It’s perfectly clear. This one can’t be talked away.
That asteroid, you know, the one reflected in the reptilian eye on the Discovery Channel. It landed just south of the Gulf of Mexico. It might have helped form the series of domes that later held all the dead from phyto-plankton to leviathans trapped in dead zones of hydrogen sulfide pockets under the sea, accumulating to make oil. The oil all our cleverness and ambition has discovered. The oil we think we “need” to pull from its grave.
It is coming out now. There is an open question, whether it’s doing more harm pouring out of a shattered sea-floor than it would have caused captured, refined, transported, and burned?
Buckshot or soft-point, both are deadly. The concentrated and inexorable damage being done to the heart of our beating ocean. Why did it take this event to make it clear this particular body of water held such a vital role? Its gyre, the source of the world’s ocean’s circulation, the nursery for giant Tuna, and who knows what else?
What had been so deeply buried, concentrations of hydro-carbons, the results of some ancient and immense die-off, bodies entombed anaerobically defying their re-integration into life’s cycles on their death. Hidden away. Deep. Slowly re-integrated into rock perhaps someday to be subsumed and incinerated under a future continent’s volcanic edge. All this oil is now pouring, gushing, seeping, rising, spreading, and killing, killing, killing wherever it goes.
The reflex of confidence that led to accepting the risks of such a disaster as if they were of no consequence is now shown to be the result of blindness and lack of imagination taken to staggering levels. As its inexorable nature takes over, the wound continues to pump out – not a spent life’s blood, though that’s what it once was; but poison and the catalyst for unknown reactions potentially leading to a fresh oleogenic age. What more fitting end for this time of oleopyric excess than for us to trigger a new oleogenic event.
Lost in all the noise surrounding the end of our oil-age has been a new understanding of the conditions that generated the oil in the first place. Dead zones, anaerobic seas choked with hydrogen sulfide spewing from a de-oxygenated metabolism, trapping and killing and preserving in ooze the lives of its time so they were transformed into geologic deposits we could search out and drain so eagerly so as to trigger the same mechanisms that originally caused them to be formed to return and repeat the process.
The sea, the Ocean, our constant! has always drawn the powerful and the status-ed among us to her shores. Tiberius at Capri floated in his pool gazing out on a clear horizon. His depravities, his boundless power, the power of Rome itself, and all its predecessors had not blemished his view. “August at the Vineyard,” or “Valentine’s Day at Hilton Head,” overlooking Lake Como, or poised on St. Bart; our own Caesars have rested with the same assurances. Whatever they’ve done, condoned, allowed, glossed-over, winked at, colluded, or conspired in, their view has always remained clear, clean blue.
Those days are coming to an end. Their playgrounds lie along the route of the gyre and its tributaries. They are exposed. Air samples along the Gulf Coast already show a rise in hydrogen sulfide. Tar balls and tendrils of oil reach towards Florida.
This same process has been going on along the Niger Delta for decades. No one cares. That’s what Africa has been for. Ever since Prince Henry began a leap-frog down its west coast five hundred years ago. The damage done, the benefits passed on as dividends, the vacations have remained unspoiled, spotless. The ocean, pricked below the belly of West Africa, bleeding into open sea, diluting the destruction, blending the damage into the wholesale destruction done every day everywhere.
Not this time. Not only is this happening “Along Our Shores!” Even if this “Third Coast” were not along America’s third world side. Home to its poorest, blackest, the “Old South,” the gimcrack of retirement settlements and shrimp-shacks and bayous. Far from the Heartland or the concentrations of wealth and power that cash in on The Heartland’s sentimentalization. Not only is this happening here. It is destroying this unique body of water enclosed, engulfed along with the Caribbean, at the heart of world’s ocean. This area, incubator to currents and giants, holds itself away from the cold deep abyss as a shallow cradle for life protected.
This is where the genius of the market in all its invisible-hand wisdom decided, not only to drill the deepest off-shore well, but to do so with absolutely no regard for how it might deal with a “problem,” should one arise. What is the ratio of blow-outs to problem-free wells world-wide? The celebrated ejaculatory Gushers of old seemed common enough ashore whenever untapped reservoirs were pricked for the first time in the past….
Will this topple the machine? No. But it should kill the last embers of enthusiasm for its promises, for the belief in and respect for its authorities. As they slowly awaken to their appalling ignorance and paralyzing incompetence at facing the inexorable results of their follies.
Make no mistake. This has not been an accident. Let’s be totally clear. This is not a call for claiming a conspiracy either! Accidents are unforeseen calamities; collisions with reality too fast to avoid or comprehend. This has been the most recent example of the machine doing exactly what it does. This has been the result of an arrogant and willfully blindness of being and acting, thrashing against very clear and visible limits, working to its fullest capacity to do nothing but lead to disaster. At this level, and coming from such a position of hubris, pleas of intentionality, that this was unintended, can have no sway. Just as the pleas of a killer’s intent have no sway in a law-court. These are no more than cries of surprise at being caught-out when these perpetrators have always felt secure in their power. Not secure that they were blameless, doing good. Secure only that they were untouchable that the consequences of their actions would only fall on others.
Those days are over. Our Gorbachev is fulfilling his promise. We’re way beyond loss-of-innocence. We’re now well into an era where only the most insane can retain any belief in this system. Take heart, or further chill, in the sure knowledge that insanity has been the machine’s greatest success. There will be many willing and ready to “fight-on” in the cause of progress. But let us know who they are and why they persist. Let’s have no more misplaced innocence as we mourn for our world.