So here’s a weird thing….. not long before dusk on Sunday, I was at the (closed) Goddard College library. I was there to record a small radio piece.
Save for myself, there’s no one on campus, so I wandered around. A few years ago, the college converted to low-residency programs. The campus now — with some buildings disintegrating into moss and rot — has an odd Planet-of-the-Apes-ish feeling.
I expected to read shortly some writing about the collapsing American Empire. For a few moments there, I wondered if I’d hit a time warp…..
We are inclined to think of hunters and gatherers as poor because they don’t have anything; perhaps better to think of them for that reason as free.
― Marshall Sahlins
My daughters’ cat and I are listening to Chris Hedges lecture about the collapse of the American Empire — extremely serious and unfunny — when the cat falls off the hutch and splashes into my pan of lemon-yellow paint.
The cat probably yowled; I certainly shouted. The creature scrambled through the dining room to living room, through my study, into the kitchen, where my daughter grabbed the paint-soaked cat. While she cleaned paint from the cat in the basement, I washed wet paint from our floors on my hands and knees.
We’ve lived in this house not much more than a year. While I love the maple floors, I generally don’t spend much time mopping.
While Hedges kept talking, I realized some of the narrow boards were birdseye maple. Through the closed basement door, I heard my daughter murmuring, comforting her beloved cat.
Whoever laid the floors in this house passed from this life decades ago. I thought of these slender, hard boards in a carpenter’s hand, his sight appraising the grain.
The decision by the ruling elites in ancient Rome—dominated by a bloated military and a corrupt oligarchy, much like the United States—to strangle the vain and idiotic Emperor Commodus in his bath in the year 192 did not halt the growing chaos and precipitous decline of the Roman Empire…. Trump and our decaying empire have ominous historical precedents.
— Chris Hedges, America: The Farewell Tour
The Larch Season, November, Vermont