I was away for about ten days and had my USPS mail on hold. It has been delivered, and the portion within shouting distance of mail I want rounds up to .5kg/1 pound, counting what feels like a doggie blanket from the SPCA, which I'll hand on to neighbors who actually have dogs. The mail I don't want, the junk mail, weighs in at 2.4kg/5.28 pounds. And I recall deleting something like 238 spam e-mails.
That is for one old man, living alone, who has about all he needs in the way of possessions and doesn't buy many new things or take extravagant trips or contribute all that much to the Democrats or other objects of charity.
In his hopeful dystopian story, "To the Chicago Abyss" (1949), Ray Bradbury's crazy-old-man protagonist will help restore civilization by remembering the junk products of "a race-track civilization that ran last over a precipice": i.e., ours. Bradbury challenges us with an intriguing paradoxical conceit we might call homeopathic
: his unlikely hero feeds the survivors the words for the "clamored-after [...] absurd [... products] of a never never-ending river of robots and robot-mad owners." The recovery of civilization will require lusting after the lost materialist crap whose production and consumption had doomed civilization.
As I said, it's a hopeful story, relatively speaking. Looking at the crap being shoved my way without my asking — looking at the waste of all that paper and time and energy — I suspect another couple generations will be time enough for us to run out over that precipice.
This is the way the world ends;
this is the way the world ends:
not with a bang or a whimper,
but with a pitch and a hustle and an inundation of ads.
(And with mild apologies to T. S. Eliot