mad in pursuit journal


Masque of Red Death

Who needs al Qaeda when we can bring down our own civilization? Who needs a boring old bridge when we can have a shiny new sports stadium? Why should American children become civil engineers when they can design video games?

And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all. [Poe]

There's an Edgar Allen Poe story: "Masque of the Red Death."* A plague known as the Red Death is epidemic. Prince Prospero decides he's going to invite all his friends into his walled castle for a big masquerade ball. The doors will be locked and they can party till the epidemic passes.

But the irony is that they have locked Red Death inside with them and the rich, self-absorbed party people must face their own agonizing demise.

So it goes. We wage our war over there, stoking up our arms industry and our oil companies, so "the terrorists" don't find us over here. We like to think we've walled ourselves in, safe to mow down forests for golf courses, demanding tax cuts for these improvements.

But as Pogo said: "We have met the enemy and he is us." The terrorists must be laughing their asses off.

Maybe we should simply recognize that our civilization is done for and let all the bridges fall and the water systems spout geysers through downtown sidewalks. Dig a well. Plant a garden. Walk. Read a book by candlelight. Wait a minute... candlelight? No computer? No internet?? Let me think this over...


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*Published in 1842. See wikipedia