I have just come from meeting an old university friend in the far south west of Londres. He is settling into his home in the outer realms of Londres after only five years, and is wondering whether to educate his kids privately because his area is so mixed. He had recently been in contact with another friend from the same time. He has established a similar life, very separate from other people.
A suspicion has been playing around the edges of my mind for the last two weeks, a suspicion which, if true, may have serious implications for the world and for this journal. I have been writing under the apprehension that the apocalypse is due to happen any day now. I have been reading the signs in nature and the faces of the residents of Londres. Something terrible is soon to happen, they seemed to say. But if that was what they said, I think they may have been mistaken. The suspicion that has been growing in my mind recently is this: I think the apocalypse might already have happened. Something terrible occurred, but it crept up on us. We were frogs in a swimming pool of gradually boiling water.
If this is true, it means that we should not be preparing for the apocalypse, for it has already happened. Instead we should be seeking to recover from it. I wonder if the fear of the apocalypse was stopping us dreaming of what the future could be like. I suspect that as a society we fear to dream of beautiful worlds in which we might live. We’d rather dream of darkness. Disappointment, it is true, is frightening, for it never stops stinging. We travel to a place we have romanticised, and find it very ordinary, very everyday, and we realise that people still have conflicts and feel miserable, or even that what might seem harmonious to an outsider is experienced by those who live it as a trap. We feel something noble and good is lost from the world, though it is only lost from our own worlds.
There is some truth visible in this process: that romanticisation rarely survives reality. Yet we can create beautiful worlds that are everyday, where nothing is perfect, but many things are better than here, utopias without illusions, if I can put it like that. Perhaps it is not even the future we should be concerned about, perhaps we should be concerned about today. Perhaps our utopias should start here. I have sometimes thought that utopias would only be possible after the apocalypse.
Here we are.