This night I dreamed of a street. It looked like a Japanese suburb. In a quiet evening, I was with my family outside, behind the house. Kids were playing in the garden, though night had fallen already.
Then something happened, far in the city. We heard screams in the distance. Then some people, more and more people began to pass in front of the house. I was watching them from my porch. They were worried, like fleeing something.
I stood up, listening to the night, on the look out for clues. I heard more screams, more people, like a river. I heard someone saying : “People are really fighting over there, phewww!”.
I grabbed the kids, my wife : “Hop hop! Everyone inside!”. Then… I woke up, in a grey mood, with this word in my head : “Varnish“.
Civilization as a “varnish over something” is a classic metaphor. Depends on what you think about : over opaque nature, over barbarism of men, over… absurdity?
Fragile varnish, chipping off prone.
Well, cities can burn, wars and earthquakes – or revolutions – can fracture the skeleton of social structures enough to push entire counties to different strange Middle Ages.
It’s probably why many humans are fascinated by “after the bomb” or epidemic (or zombie) movies, when one or a little group of humans has to gather to protect themselves against… something.
As a bookseller I see that many people buy books about survivalism. How do you do when there’s no electricity anymore?
Social collapse can also lead to other things.
When the Russians arrived in Berlin in 1945, it was about another kind of survivalism. German people (mostly women, kids and old people) had to find food, water… and find hideouts not to be raped… For months.
Isn’t our health a similar varnish? We move forward, full of trust, until…
OK. How will I finish this article? A boring “Don’t take things too seriously” quote? I don’t think so. No, let’s BE serious. One day, we will maybe HAVE to be seriously serious.
No : let’s invent a meta-story full of paradoxes and lessons. Oui ?
An author lives with wife and kids in a wealthy neighborhood. He writes a novel about a family trying to survive after a nuclear war (no electricity, fires, looters, violent riots, nuclear winter coming).
Our guy has fun and makes progress in his writing, but a REAL terrible earthquake happens, destroying 80% of his city. Chaos ensues (no electricity, fires, looters, no more police or hospitals, etc). Confrontation between his ideas for the book and… reality.
You have a week.
Have a great day!
PS : In my dream, should I have had taken my family out of my house, or was it a good idea to hide inside?