Discover more from Contrarium
How I learned to stop worrying and love the Apocalypse
And how you can do it too
While most people were understandably driven to fear, rage or despair over the most recent massacres in that eternal conflict in the Middle East, while thousands were protesting in the streets for their preferred side and a few were even driven to violence over it, I, after an initial panic, spent my time trying to stop and think things over.
Of course the situation is dramatic, especially for the people trapped in Gaza, but also for the Israeli hostages. (Even if the Israeli strategy of bombing all kinds of objectives seem incomprehensible. What the hell are they hoping to achieve? To be hated even more? Cause a global war?)
Meanwhile, in France, a Muslim fanatic from Chechnya killed a French teacher, in a case related to the current troubles in Palestine, or perhaps because of the prohibition of islamic garb in schools, and another terrorist in Belgium, native from Tunisia, shot to death two swedes who went to the Sweden-Belgium match. Although the motive here appears to be the Koran burnings that took place a while ago in Stockholm, the newest flare-up in the Middle East and the several related protests taking place in European — or former European — capitals certainly didn't help.
And the U.S., Iran, Russia, and even China are all making gloomy pronouncements that threaten further international escalation of the war.
In short: yes, things are bad and looking to get worse.
And yet, I have come to realize that all this fretting and worrying — which is, after all, what the media promotes with its constant repetition of horrific images of such happenings — is not good for anyone, and doesn't help. First because we don't really know exactly for sure what happened or what is happening. Lots of initial images and facts have been revealed as fakes, and, in principle, one shouldn't completely trust anything coming from the big media.
And second because hate and panic are not good in themselves and actually contribute to the problem. The System wants you to panic and hate. That's why they are constantly provoking all those conflicts. But, among other things, a recent post from Mr. Charlton as well as some of his earlier writings led me to think that writing in hate and fear only brings more hate and fear, and that we should instead strive to think more positive thoughts.
You will ask, how is it possible to think positive thoughts, with the world going to the dogs like this?!? Well, even if the world is ending, or, at least, the modern western world — and that is, indeed, a possibility — we shouldn't worry more than it is necessary about it. In fact, we shouldn't think too much about the current end of this world at all, but instead try to concentrate in the new world that we want to build after that. Well, if we survive…
As Yeats wrote in “Lapis Lazuli”:
All things fall and are built again
And those that build them again are gay.
(Gay, here, of course, means “happy” or “joyful", which is the meaning the word had before it was appropriated for other uses.)
Now, how can we do that? Well, I suppose each one can do it his own way, some concentrating on raising well their families, some on doing well their job, some on applying their skill or talents for positive enterprises.
I, for instance, have a hobby as a small-time publisher. Every month I receive something between 15 and 40 dollars from Amazon from the books sold by my independent imprint. It's almost nothing, but it's still more than I ever got paid for writing about politics and fretting about the state of the world, even when I wrote an actually successful political blog years ago.
Now I am preparing three new books, one a bilingual Spanish-English edition of Horacio Quiroga's short stories, another a new edition of Hilaire Belloc's “The Path to Rome”, and another one a compilation of stories for children. I am also writing by myself a non-fiction book about the history of Argentina, although that will only be available next year. All books are available in both digital and print formats.
Why do I do it, given that none of those books will probably sell much, if at all? Well, for one, I enjoy creating new editions of old books. It is fun to choose fonts and create a new design for the covers. I am a professor and translator by profession, so that's also something I can do even when I'm not paid. It is also good to think that I am doing a small part to keep old books alive.
While other publishers have been doing the same thing — after all, works in the public domain are free to be republished by anyone, and lots of works are available for free at Gutenberg and other sites — I have noticed that the quality of such books, in general, is very bad. Printing quality and translations are generally dismal, with lots of errors, typos and ugly covers. So I wanted to provide something with a slightly better quality. Of course, given that this is Amazon print-by-demand, the printing quality is variable and not as good as what could be obtained if I could print my own books, and a real publishing company, but that costs money that I don't have. So, for now, it’s really no more than a useless hobby.
Another thing I can do, I think, is to focus on writing a bit less on the current apocalypse and more on the ways that we can build things again after they fall. At least, that is the challenge for this website and any other project that I may have in the future.
Will you join me?