Out in The City
2012 is here. All the doomsayers are drumming their fingers, full of anticipation. The Mayan calendar runs out of steam on December 21st. Runes have been cast; tealeaves and seaweed have been read and the green movement issue dire warnings of ‘the tipping point’ having been reached. All those placard-bearing souls are hoping that they will soon be vindicated and that the end really is nigh. The Discovery Channel has been screening countless documentaries that alert and alarm with endless speculation about the ‘inevitable’, approaching apocalypse, be it by deadly virus, malignant asteroid strike or the Yellowstone caldera exploding and plunging the planet into a fresh ice age that wipes us all out.
Classical theologians are frantically thumbing through the Book of Revelations and the Pagans and Wiccans are all quoting the Hopi prophesies. The Arab Spring, global financial meltdown and social breakdown are all signs of Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi and Naqoyqatsi, they say. We’ve all had our chips. It’s enough to give you nightmares. However, in one, fluffy pink dream, a little fairy appears: Poof! And grants you three wishes. The first two are swiftly used on a very large gin and tonic and a tasty snack. The fairy is tossed into a philosophical spin when the third wish – an endless supply of wishes – is made and after no end of fairy head scratching that produces a positive shower of Disney dust, you find yourself with an infinite supply of desires to be granted.
This is where it all gets a bit tricky. World peace, instant cures for all disease and everyone rolling about in stacks of cash? You don’t want to start off sounding like a Miss World hopeful. An end to greed and malice? Probably not a good idea to mess with the human condition – it would be like violating the Prime Directive on Star Trek, or a time traveller bumping off his granny – you can never gauge the ramifications of such swingeing moves. Better to begin on a smaller scale and concentrate on ambitions that are more personal. Bathing in a bathtub filled with bubbly seems churlish. A small (or large) retinue of moist items ready to fulfil any carnal whim is so passé. That dream, designer home, conjured up with a graceful wave of the hand would soon lose its shine.
There’s no getting away from it. All this self-conscious, self-indulgence is not the answer. You cannot contrive gay abandon. Hedonism is savoured best from the hot chalice of spontaneity and is born in the crucible of happy happenstance. At the risk of sounding jaded, maybe the best wish, the only real wish, recognises that we weren’t around for the big bang that started it all so we might as well be here for the big bang that ends it all. Let’s wish for that asteroid to hit a day early on December 20th and prove the pundits wrong.
James Barnes is editor-in-chief of OUT in Thailand Magazine.