Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

It was over, he said. It was too late, we had dithered too long. Our society had already become too fragmented and dysfunctional for us to fix, in time, the calamitous mistakes we had made. And, in any case, people’s attention remained elusive. Neither season after season of extreme weather events nor the risk of extinction for a million animal species around the world could push environmental destruction to the top of our country’s list of concerns. And how sad, he said, to see so many among the most creative and best-educated classes, those from whom we might have hoped for inventive solutions, instead embracing personal therapies and pseudo-religious practices that promoted detachment, a focus on the moment, acceptance of one’s surroundings as they were, equanimity in the face of worldly cares. (This world is but a shadow, it is a carcass, it is nothing, this world is not real, do not mistake this hallucination for the real world.) Self-care, relieving one’s own everyday anxieties, avoiding stress: these had become some of our society’s highest goals, he said—higher, apparently, than the salvation of society itself. The mindfulness rage was just another distraction, he said. Of course we should be stressed, he said. We should be utterly consumed with dread. Mindful meditation might help a person face drowning with equanimity, but it would do absolutely nothing to right the Titanic, he said. It wasn’t individual efforts to achieve inner peace, it wasn’t a compassionate attitude toward others that might have led to timely preventative action, but rather a collective, fanatical, over-the-top obsession with impending doom. It was useless, the man said, to deny that suffering of immense magnitude lay ahead, or that there’d be any escaping it. How, then, should we live?

Sigrid Nunez, What Are You Going Through: A Novel (Riverhead Books, September 8, 2020)



  1. devastating

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep…

      Liked by 1 person

    • “It was all over, he said. He quoted another writer, translating from the French: Before man, the forest; after him, the desert. Whatever must be done to forestall catastrophe, whatever actions or sacrifices, it was now clear that humankind lacked the will, the collective will, to undertake them. To any intelligent alien, he said, we would appear to be in the grip of a death wish. It was over, he said again. No more the faith and consolation that had sustained generations and generations, the knowledge that, though our own individual time on earth must end, what we loved and what had meaning for us would go on, the world of which we had been a part would endure—that time had ended, he said. Our world and our civilization would not endure, he said. We must live and die in this new knowledge. Our world and our civilization would not endure, the man said, because they could not survive the many forces we ourselves had set against it. We, our own worst enemy, had set ourselves up like sitting ducks, allowing weapons capable of killing us all many times over not only to be created but also to land in the hands of egomaniacs, nihilists, men without empathy, without conscience. Between our failure to control the spread of WMDs and our failure to keep from power those for whom their use was not only thinkable but perhaps even an irresistible temptation, apocalyptic war was becoming increasingly likely. . . .

      —Sigrid Nunez, What Are You Going Through: A Novel (Riverhead Books, September 8, 2020)

      Liked by 2 people

    • Dark, but she certainly captured my attention.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Gonna need another cup of coffee after that. 😓

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I cannot but agree, wholeheartedly!
    We should be living differently. We are way too relaxed about what’s happening and what’s coming.
    Thank you for this dose of reality to start the week.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I’m with Sawsan – perhaps a bit early for reading, but definitely woke me up. Yes – we need to be collectively, fanatically obsessed with what is becoming of our world. Yes, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale – and then get to the matter at hand.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Our complacency has led us here. To a land of fire and smoke. With heads in the sand our bodies burn.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Can’t say it any better … “This world is but a shadow, it is a carcass, it is nothing, this world is not real, do not mistake this hallucination for the real world.” … Sigrid Nunez, What Are You Going Through: A Novel (Riverhead Books, September 8, 2020).

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a mess we’ve made of the world, both in our abuse of nature and in the way people treat each other now that our society, our family structure, has broken down. Is it too late?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m afraid I agree. I’m afraid.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You sure are not giving any freebies away today – what a way to start a new week! If only it weren’t so terribly true.
    I have had my fill of bad news already on the first day of the week for the rest of it! It’s 5 past 12 for our world and we have but ourselves to thank for!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sigh. So…. if we are only in the final minute of the first year of our existence, as Sir Robinson so beautifully frames our time on earth as a species, perhaps it’s not so dire. We’ve created and accomplished so much in our brief history on earth, perhaps, if we really work together, we can create a better new normal for all!

    At least, that’s what I’m hoping and praying for and going for — and once again, where is the ‘hope’ button when I need it?

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I thought I would just read a couple of blogs and chill before trying to sleep. Oh well, sleep is highly overrated. That. Was. Devastating. But oh dear, so truthy.

    Liked by 1 person

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