Stop the clock.

Whoever it was who proclaimed the end of history must feel sheepish on a fairly regular basis. I imagine Francis Fukuyama frequently takes a deep breath at cocktail parties and launches into an all-too-familiar-to-him refrain along the lines of “I didn’t mean that things would actually stop happening…”

Do you ever stop and think, “I wish things would actually stop happening”? 

I’ve never thought that up until the moment I wrote it just now. But now that I’ve written and then begin to think about it, I’d love us all to live in a steady state, blissfully caught in amber.

Wouldn’t it be nice to bob around in a swimming pool in one of those inflatable armchairs, periodically knocking against the rim of the pool and kicking off back into the blueness? There’s not much more utopian than squeezing a bottle of lager into one of those rubberized recesses in the armrest of such inflatable armchairs. The aching suction of those rubberized recesses, as you pull the bottle from it; the squeak of material as you shift ceaselessly from buttock to buttock: these are the sounds of a heavenly nothingness. 

Happiness, contentment: a well-earned rest from the bump and grind of history.

And then history, like tragedy, intrudes upon your reverie. Somewhere distant in the living room of your working life, you hear a tinkling as the third porcelain bird falls from your wall. Something is kicking off, but in a far less leisurely fashion than you kicked-off across the pool.

You’ve no choice then, but to get up from your rubber armchair and doggy paddle to the metal ladder. You rise out of the water like a reluctant leviathan and stride towards events (and the people of which events are made).

“Break it up!” you say, assertively but with no small trace of ennui. Events break up like sullen young things, separating into the guilty, the pained, the grieving and the angered: their reddened eyes still downcast, jaws slanting, snorting like bulls and making ready to explain, exclaim, denounce or simply cry out for help. A cacophony of voices engulfs you. Somehow it supports you as you stand and your ennui evaporates.

And you are back in the midst of an unfolding history. You are a part of difficult things. You are an unfinished being in an unfinished world. You acknowledge your part in its making.

That you are still in your swimming trunks is forgiven. But do hitch them up a cinch, please. 

Nothing in history is quite ready for that.


2 thoughts on “History

  1. Is this a symptom of an alienated condition? In which reality and meaning are made for you. Where you can never fully process your history and experience because you are too busy resolving an imposed rationality. In which authority attempts to make sense of things for you. Contrast this with a democratic humanistic experience in which a rational sense of history is naturally related to sensory experience. There is no bizarre twisted neoliberal filter trying to order the world, impose its rationality on our experience and making it difficult to relax. Even with a lager, a pool and some sunshine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alienation? I’m not sure. It’s certainly a kind of social abdication. The myth that the current economic orthodoxy is a final system does rather close off debate, doesn’t it? And that is part of a general malaise: a ‘job done’ and a washing of hands. Still, history always wakes us up again.


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