(The earlier version inadvertently left out the James Baldwin quote which is obviously essential to understanding this post )
James Baldwin saw it decades ago. It was inevitable, then, as it is now.
I, myself, have been feeling a nebulous sense of impending upheaval for maybe five or six years now; an unshakable belief that something major and huge and very terrifying was just beyond the horizon, approaching like a weather front. I could feel the enormity of it in my bones.
It scared and depressed the hell out of me, because this shadow didn’t have a shape. I fretted over what form it would take and how it would finally present itself. I considered perhaps, there would be a pandemic or another world war fought over dwindling resources. (Both are still quite possible. In fact, I’d say, highly likely.)
There were times I felt as if I were losing my mind, losing grip with reality, becoming one of those tedious depressive types, like that chick Woody Allen tries to pick up in the museum in Play It Again Sam.
I held back from bringing up my fears too often to others because, let’s face it, it’s fucking depressing. Nobody wants to hang around with Betty Buzzkill. My friends like me because I make them laugh. I’d seriously harsh their mellows with all that Henny Penny gloom and doom stuff.
Over the last couple of years, however, the shape of The Thing is becoming clearer. Certainly Trump is a harbinger, a catalyst, a symptom, a symbol…but he is not the root cause nor the end, in and of itself. If it hadn’t been him, it would have been another demagogue, another catalyst. The zeitgeist is ripe for these kinds of men. The balance is tipping and they are not giving up their power and privilege without a fight.
I believe the future that James Baldwin predicted is finally upon us.
Oddly, there’s a bit of a relief in finally being able to see the shape of it.
Addendum: what I meant find that last paragraph, is that a threat you can name and fight is better than a shapeless, formless threat that you cannot even identify.