Life’s Back Nine

Something is definitely wrong here. Me thinks the global mind-control experiment is working better this time for some reason.

life's back nine

Life’s Back Nine

by Severian

Everybody knows the cliche about midlife crises: A guy hits forty, and all of a sudden he buys a sports car, takes up skydiving, starts cheating on his wife with a nineteen-year-old stripper. If “middle age” ceased to exist tomorrow, entire industries would go out of business. If you’re one of the young folks who hang out here for some reason, trust me: You, too, will one night wake up in a cold sweat, wondering where the hell half your life went, and what it all could possibly have meant. Cliches are cliches because they’re true.

All that stuff — the sports car, the stripper — is a desperate effort to make that cold-sweat feeling go away. The cold-sweat feeling comes on you of itself, the way Kierkegaard or whoever said religious feeling does. You can’t avoid it, because no matter how full a life you’ve led up to then, the thing that wakes you up at three in the morning is nothing less than the certainty that you are going to die.

Most men get over the strippers-and-sports-cars overreaction pretty quickly, generally to be replaced by a new outlook on life. The guys who have come through the midlife crisis are generally a lot better people — more focused, more outgoing, far less materialistic — because they’ve taken up, however briefly, the perspective of Eternity. If you’re religious, you wonder if you’ll merit heaven. If you’re not, you wonder how you’ll be remembered. Either way, you start thinking about the kind of world you want to leave behind you, and what you’re going to do to achieve it with whatever time is left to you.

This is why I’ve found the COVID overreaction so bizarre. Realizing your own mortality changes things. You can always tell, for instance, when it has happened to a younger person — when they come home, combat vets often act like middle-aged men going through a midlife crisis. Readjustment to civilian life is hard. Read the great war narratives, and it’s clear that none of them ever really “got over it.” Robert Graves and Ernst Junger, for instance, both lived to ripe old ages (90 and 103, respectively), and were titans in fields far removed from battle… and yet, the war WAS their lives, in some way we who haven’t been through it will never understand, and it comes through in every line they wrote.

If the “Covidians” were really freaking out about COVID, then, I’d expect one of two broad types of reaction: Either party-hearty midlife crisis mode or a new determination to get on with whatever’s left of life. Obviously, neither of those are true, and I just can’t grasp it — these might be your last few weeks on Earth, and that’s how you’re going to spend them? Sitting in your apartment like a sheep, wearing a mask and eating takeout, glued to a computer screen?

If you want a measure of just how feminized our society has become, there you go. Call this misogyny if you must, but it’s an easily observed fact of human nature — indeed, it has been observed, in every time, place, and culture of which we have knowledge — that post-menopausal women go a bit batty. Though a man might know for certain that he dies tomorrow, he can still keep plugging away today, because he’s programmed to find real meaning in his “work” — we are, after all, running our snazzy new mental software over kludgy old caveman hardware.

Women aren’t like that. They have one “job,” just one, and when they can’t do it anymore, they get weird. In much the same way high-end sports cars would cease to exist if middle-aged men ceased to exist, so there are entire aspects of culture that don’t make sense in any other way except these are channels for the energies of post-menopausal, and therefore surplus-to-requirements, women. You could go so far as to say that pretty much everything we call culture — traditions, history, customs — exists for that reason. Women go from being the bearers to being the custodians, of the tribe’s future.

(An odd sort of misogyny, don’t you think, that gives credit for the persistence of culture to the ladies? But read on before you give me too much credit for my enlightened sexual politics).

But that’s Covidianism, y’all. Instead of shrieking “think of the children!” like Mrs. Lovejoy, the vinegar-drinking shrews who run our culture have decided “to hell with the children.” They themselves don’t have any, and thanks to a girlhood spent riding the carousel, jacked on artificial hormones, and with the abortion clinic on speed dial, they never can. So all the energy that would’ve gone into curating the tribe’s future gets channeled into ever more bizarre politics in the here-and-now.

I’m not blaming it all on the ladies, though. The men let them do it. Even in my day, when third-wave feminism was well advanced, this ridiculous mask shit would be unenforceable. No kid would’ve complied. There are no better barracks lawyers than high school kids; I can’t even imagine all the stuff we would’ve done with our mandatory masks, but one thing’s certain: We would NOT have marched around the halls in lockstep, gazes held firmly on the floor, wearing our little masks and lining up quietly for our government goop shots. Again, see above: If you’re really faced with your own mortality — if you really believe, if you truly know, way down inside where it matters, that you’re going to die — you don’t turn into a quivering little mouse. “Bargaining” and “depression” always follow “Denial” and “anger”… and we’ve seen neither of those.

Something is very wrong here.

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