It's been a nightmare couple of months. Events that seem to confirm we are in fact trapped inside the dystopian fever-dream of a comatose science fiction writer are coming at us in an intensifying wave of horror.
I'm marking this current wave from the disappearance of Malaysian Flight MH370 on 8th March with 239 passengers and crew on board. Theories such as a rogue pilot, a terrorist hijack, a remote controlled hijack, a Diego Garcia landing like something out of the TV series Lost, and a mysterious cargo abound. We don't even know into which ocean it crashed … if in fact it did. The grief of the families who have no hope of closure for the foreseeable future is heartbreaking.
From natural causes to malice to rank stupidity, the disappearance or death of large groups of innocents in such a short space of time — not including the war zone of Syria where the daily death toll continues to mount numbingly — is removing all complacency we used to have in our western bubble of stability. There's a demonic force abroad in the world and it's getting closer, confirmation if any were needed that we are all in this together. None of us is an island, we are all part of the continent and it really is that every man, woman and child's death diminishes us.
Perhaps the most angering aspect of the capsized South Korean ferry is the order for the kids to stay in their cabins while the captain and some of the crew made good their escape. This is only relieved by the tales of the heroism of those crew members who did stay, and a diver who lost his life in the search.
Within weeks, Mother Nature dropped two mountains onto two towns thousands of miles away on two different continents. One waterlogged mountain killed 29 with at least 20 people still missing in a mudslide in Oso, Washington State on 22nd March. A few days ago in Afghanistan, another completely engulfed the town of Abi-Barak, with thousands buried and no more survivors expected.
For sheer malice, nothing matches Boko Haram's kidnapping of 230 young girls from their school in Chibok, Nigeria on 25th April. Having flouted the group's fundamentalist worldview by receiving a western education, regarded as evil, they now face being sold as "wives" or simply being killed.
It's tornado season in the US. The British climate now features regular flooding. The Chinese economy is looking alarmingly bubbly … and World War 3 might erupt in the Ukraine.
Meanwhile, no nuclear bomb has been dropped … yet. Nevertheless, here we are standing in the rubble of the Enlightenment with the buildings intact and our common humanity in tatters. Charlatans, hypocrites, phoneys, fuckwits and thieves run everything and fight for top-dog status. Meanwhile, it's all going up in smoke, down the swanee and through the looking-glass.
I'm half-expecting to hear of an asteroid strike wiping out a city. Or the Canary Island overhang finally dropping into the Atlantic, sending a tidal wave which will destroy the eastern seaboard of the US and West Hampstead. Either that or the ruling class will finally return us all to the feudalism they apparently miss so keenly.
So today I'm getting out the comfy chair, sitting in the garden and dreaming about what life was like before late capitalism grew totally decrepit. All that promise and no knickers, now running on empty and barely held up by a rusty zimmerframe while we scramble for survival.
- About: British Chinese poet, writer and broadcaster Anna Chen
- On the radio
- Arts Reviews
- The Steampunk Opium Wars
- Foot and Mouth Campaign
- RSC The Orphan of Zhao controversy
- A Bad Case of the Trots
- Reaching for my Gnu: poetry
- Print Room protest: In the Depths of Dead Love chronology
- Poetry Live!
- Yellow Peril Orientalism