the rant

Science fiction writers often used to be called Cassandras, after the prophet whose predictions weren’t believed until they came true. So this, if it needed a title, would be entitled, “Cassandra’s memo to herself after laying out the cards”.

It’s easier to warn about a disaster that hasn’t happened yet than to write about the one that’s happening all around you. When you’ve fancied yourself as a misfortune-teller all your life, and now the voices echoing back off the temple walls are repeating with great clarity the words you never really wanted to believe—because they were, in the end, just too much of a disaster—what do you say next?

When the disaster gets too intimate with you—when it’s crawled too close, like the prophetic snake curled up and licking in the mouth—the snake licking to be admitted and at the same time to be transmitted—to be acknowledged and released—what are you going to find to say?

Cassandra’s in need of new omens and new ways of managing them. Or is she? Omens aren’t much use when the ominous hasn’t just come about but is free, clear and acting out in real life. How meaningless to spread the cards and invoke Future #16, the Fall of the Tower, when the tower has already fallen on you!

Specifically, what use is a prophet, now that the future has caught up with the past, and the present has caught up with the future? The whole point of prophecy collapses as soon as the prophecy comes true. So what do you do next?

Cassandra doesn’t know. Except:

Events this overbearing leave you with the growing sense that unless you foreground them, you have no position to speak from and no business speaking.

Try to understand the science. Try to tell the truth. Try to find a medium in which to tell the truth. Try to extend the envelope in which you will be permitted to tell the truth. Prophecy is over. Persuasion is over. Action is the last thing left. Rebellion is the last thing left. Stay steady in the face of it all. Do what you can. Write that. Record that. Try to pass helpful messages between practical, determined people.

Speaking with XR Writers in support of Extinction Rebellion, 11.10.2019
Photo: Julian Richards