My good friend Violet remarked a couple of months back upon how the internet is (slowly, so far) bringing about the downfall of Western Civilization. On the traditional purveyors of The News, she wrote:
Having grown up in an environment where you built your identity on the trusted words of a few white men, it must be terrifying to look at the enormous, overflowing wealth of voices that can now be heard and realize that people are listening. Not that many, not yet, but they are listening to them and not you. It is in a very real way the downfall of western civilization. It’s not a violent revolution so much as simply the collapse of that particular institution that distills the world into a pleasant hour to be taken in at the end of the day. It’s the slow degradation of our ability to say the world is like this and have it simply be true.
And I, for one, welcome the barbarian hordes.
I’d like to use that post as a jumping off point for the content of this little corner of the internet to which I’ve laid claim. See, I’m pretty much of the opinion that Western CivilizationTM could use to collapse just a wee bit, or perhaps entirely. But I don’t think the best way to do that is to just start tearing shit down, as fun as that would be. I’d rather pull the rug out from underneath Western Civilization by just going and doing something else. And that starts with thinking and saying something else. I chose the name of this blog for a reason (other than that it sounds cool, or that it makes a cultural reference that might make certain people think I’m smart). Here’s the context (W. B. Yeats’ “The Second Coming”):
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born
In a nutshell, “oh noez, it’s Teh Apocalypse.” Only Yeatsy. Which is actually important, because Yeats is a firmly established figure in the Western TraditionTM, and he’s not too happy about them things falling apart. (To be fair, I’m not all that happy about WW1 either, but I’d be likely to put the blame in a different place.) Anyway, what’s important here is the imagery of the falcon and the falconer. To me, the falconer is all those rich (mostly) white (mostly) men sitting in their newsrooms and their boardrooms and their White Houses and their Kremlins and their basilicas and their megachurches and thier capitol buildings. Or rather, it’s the whole structure of perspectives and ideas and values that they represent and benefit from, but to which they are also servants. And the falcon is us. And we can still hear the falconer, but we’re learning not to listen. And each day, gods willing, we’re widening that gyre just a little bit more.