|Chapter 23 : Brave New World|
(or: What? Millenium? What the hell are you talking about?)
|Dec 31, 1999
It is, of course, difficult to actually see, to view, to observe the world on a daily basis through new eyes, eyes that don't just see the same things day after day, like a new cartoon placed over the same background looping and looping continuously to give the impression of movement, when there is such repetitive predictability based upon a routine that barely gets shaken up over time.
And so the entrance to a new year, to a new century, a new millenium, faces us, with all the hyped up worries of the Apocalypse, an Armageddon not of Biblical origins, but of continued human mistrust of the machines they themselves build and are played out time and time again on the screen, with debuts from Hollywood running from The Terminator to The Matrix.
Of course, the religious are out in full force, this being the time of the end of the world, predicted in a time where the year 2000 seemed such a far time away that anything was possible to believe, much like (perhaps) the science fiction writers of the 50's and 60's saw the 1990's as sufficiently far off to envision humans emigrating to the Moon and Mars to remain believable in some sense in the backs of the minds of their readers.
It is a number, of course, and a day that is not of any major significant difference from New Year's of 1999 or 1998. But the wholeness of it, the idea that it is a marker in time provides the magnetism of it, perhaps much like the comet Hale-Bopp, because it provides the opportunity for a unique experience (albeit shared by 6 billion others), even if it is simply a structure of human convention.
And so today, the day before the new year of 2000 begins, seems like it should be a day of significance, that one should take stock and review the world in which we live. But what is the point? Much as a birthday, the world is experiencing a collective reflection, and a collective look to the future. And when taken seriously, and viewing the state of the world as it stands today, a 6 billion person sigh is going up, wondering what the hell that future hold.
Perhaps that's why there has been such focus on this Y2K bug, this harbinger of doom that will toss us into the Middle Ages and everyone with riot and loot and pillage. It gives people something tangible to latch onto, so when the ball does drop, and the time has past, and our fears of Y2K are revealed to be nothing more than fancy, we can breathe a collective sigh of relief and tell ourselves all is right with the world, we aren't spinning towards self-destruction, self-annihilation.
I don't mean to be fatalistic. I sincerely believe that I will manage to live out my life well into the new century (barring any unfortunate accidents, such as being hit by another bus, falling from a cliff, crossing paths with an angry web hostess in a dark alley, or being driving insane by two toddlers). Life, as we know it, will not get harder or easier, it will just change, as it has for the past 6 thousand years or so, give or take a millennia.
But I don't have much faith in the human collective, I have no predictions of utopia or a decent in anarchy or chaos, I have no major fears, other than wondering what purpose I will feel I have had over my lifetime when, at 50, 60, 70, or 110 years old and dying, I look back and ask 'what was the meaning of it all?', and I still only have the sense of purpose of continued inertia, my body in motion to remain in motion.
Oh, sure, I have the impending birth of a child I am consumed by, the love of a family, the continued exploration of the self, the spark of desire, all which are unconstrained by the passage of a new year, or the meeting of a new century, a new millenium. Much as the rest of the world, there are constants that continue along regardless of the human imposition of markers, of milestones, simple conventions to perhaps try and create significance instead of taking stock of what exists daily, and the significance and importance even the seemingly mundane hold.