Monday, July 31, 2017

Prophet of Doom cheated out of his Due Respect

Dateline: Year 2032, somewhere in the former United States—After the collapse of Western civilization in 2031, followed by the ruination of the rest of the planet, a self-proclaimed former prophet of doom has been reminding the survivors that he told them so, but they’ve declined to favour him with praise for his foresight, on account of their being too busy clawing for scraps and fending off the cannibals and scavengers who threaten their squalid encampments.

The doomsayer styles himself Ludovico the Magnificent, and carries a scrapbook bearing photographic evidence of the years he spent as a rabble-rousing anarchist standing on street corners, holding accusatory signs, and barking at strangers about the coming end of all things.

In addition, his scrapbook contains printouts of articles he wrote on his pessimistic blog in which he predicted at length how and why the world would be imminently destroyed.

“I saw the end coming and I told them so,” said Ludovico. “I told everyone back when no one cared. They were all bustling from here to there, happy as clams and blissfully unaware of the dangers of their way of doing business. They didn’t care about the blowback, because they lacked the vision or the commitment of a prophet.

“That’s where I came in. But no one listened! No one put their briefcase down for even a single nanosecond to stop and listen to summaries of the case I laid out in meticulous detail on my blog. And look where they are now: dead from war, plague, or starvation. Just as I predicted!”

Ludovico has taken it upon himself to continue his rounds, albeit now clad in a flamboyant red cape and sparkly magician’s suit he’d preserved in his bug-out rucksack. The prophet, however, has switched from predicting catastrophe, to rubbing the bitter truth in the faces of the beleaguered remnants of humanity.

“Oh, what’s that you got there?” he asked a bedraggled old woman who sat by her mud hut. “Is that rat flesh you’re feasting on? Gee, I wonder who predicted ten years ago on his blog that everyone was going to be reduced to eating rats. I wonder if that genius survived the apocalypse and might even be standing right in front of you, waiting for an apology because you would have failed to give him even the time of day, let alone the help he could have used marketing his website and spreading the news that could have saved the planet.

“And what’s that I hear? Nothing at all? You’re just going to keep sitting there, gnawing on rat, your sad old eyes staring at nothing? How typical!”

Later, the prophet came upon a wretched family wandering the hillside, whereupon he badgered them for hours but failed to receive the thanks and the praise he sought for his labours.

“Just a middle-aged couple now with their two daughters, eh?” he told them. “They would still have been old enough to read when my blog was at its peak. But did any of you read a word of it? Of course not! And look where you are now; look what’s befallen you. No more amenities for you, eh?

“And who predicted all of it? Did you? Of course not! No, let’s think now. Who both saw it all coming and had the foresight as well to protect the hard evidence of his wisdom? Could he be—Oh, I don’t know—stumbling along right beside you in a flipping red cape, waiting for—hmm, I don’t know—someone to acknowledge he was right all along and everyone else was stupid and arrogant?”

The family never did pay its respects to Ludovico, oppressed as they were by the weight of all that had befallen them.

At any event, they were soon set upon by cannibalistic ravagers whom the prophet addressed in turn.

“And who do we have here?” said the prophet. “Cannibals from the tar pits yonder? And I suppose you’re just going to go ahead and rape those girls without even setting a moment aside to honour the personage who’s wearing a wondrous red cape, who just happens to be called Ludovico the Magnificent, who bears evidence of his genius in this here scrapbook, and who foretold all this misery. Sure, don’t mind me! I just saw it all coming, is all. Just ignore the prophet while you chop up their flesh. Don’t even give him the time of day or anything! Just like before.”

The prophet made his escape by convincing the savages that his cape conferred magical powers on him. But his getaway provided him little joy, because the savages likewise neglected to acknowledge that some years ago he in fact had shown remarkable foresight.

“What really gets my goat,” confessed Ludovico, “is that the world itself is screwing me over a second time. The first time, everyone was too busy to acknowledge my greatness. Now, when all the businesses are ashes, everyone’s too depressed or horrified to do so. Either way, I’m being cheated twice over!”   


  1. Not sure if you picked 2030 randomly or not. I follow a lot of cycle experts, people who study saeculum cycles. Many of them have the 2030 time frame as being the beginning of big changes.

    1. No, I didn't have any prophecy in mind when I picked 2031 (not 2030).

      I suspect the prediction that "big changes" will happen in a particular year is unfalsifiable, since big changes happen in every year, depending only on what someone considers to be big or important. Big changes were predicted for 2012. Did they happen or not? The world didn't end, but maybe that was only the beginning of the end. Who knows? Predicting the timing of such immensely complicated historical events would be far from an exact science--unless you happen to have the mystical insight into the nature of human reality, as in the movie Pi.

    2. This isn't radom predictions, but based on historical cycles. The 2012 "end of world" nonsense was not scientific in any way.

    3. Interesting. It sounds like Spengler's theory, especially the talk of seasons. I'd be curious how the saeculum idea could be mapped onto his theory. For Spengler, the cycle is due largely to waxing or waning faith in the society's ethos or core cultural myth. So his timeframe is longer than 80-90 years.

      I do like the idea that stages of individual growth are reflected in historical cycles. I've written about that on this blog, such as in the article below, which adds to the mix the difference between naive, childlike characteristics and jaded, adult ones. Young societies are childlike while old ones become cynical and pragmatic.

      Revolutions introduce the complication of new starting points within a larger, older society. Or maybe that's just a semantic issue of whether the period after the revolution amounts to the same society as the one that obtained in the prior period. For example, does Reagan's killing of the New Deal make for a different society than the one that formed after the Great Depression? Is there anything cultural that unites the whole of American history? I suppose there might be just a cycle, like ones we're talking about.

    4. Ah, I see that the authors of the Saeculum theory wrote The Fourth Turning, which influenced Steve Bannon. I'll have to look into this more, because although I don't know much about this theory, it's dismissed as outlandish by the American neoliberal establishment (CNN, etc), but if it's grounded in Spengler's ideas, I'd be inclined to defend at least some aspects of it.

    5. It is quite similar to Spengler. Maybe just building/expanding on the same ideas.