Author Archives: T. E. Grau

Doom from Above: When the End Arrives, Will Anyone See It Coming?

The Extinction Papers – Chapter Three

 

So few humans look to the sky these days, engrossed as they are with the glowing box on the wall, the interconnected device held in their hand, and the cracks in the pavement in front of them as they count each step to the grave. Add to this the contemporary obsession with navel gazing, and the vista above doesn’t stand a chance. Downward the eyes are cast. Ever downward, searching for salvation

But I still look up, because that’s where the mysteries still exist, and that’s where the end will come.

Armageddon will come from above as we scuttle like ants in a Petri dish. This has always been a part of human lore, but we seem to have forgotten, as our vision becomes more nearsighted and internalized.  In version of The End preached by the modern, literalist Christian tradition, the returning Jesus will descend from the clouds during the Rapture and take up all the properly saved believers, leaving the rest to the Tribulation slaughter under the hideous reign of the Antichrist.  In the cosmic horror writing of Lovecraft and other devoted Mythosists, the Outer Gods might someday decide to pass blindly through our neighborhood, bulldozing our reality and raining down destruction born in a reality not our own and certainly over our heads. The cinema has filled seats with flickering tales of duplicitous aliens who arrive on earth to suck the planet dry. Asteroids and meteorites pose a constant threat to both the continued existence of our species and the quality of American filmmaking. Solar flares could one day decide to burn our watery marble to an orbiting cinder. Once again and over and over, death comes from the stars, or even from our star, and even from those places closer to home yet still firmly elevated. Read the rest of this entry

Shame for Fame: The New Path to Stardom in the Age of the Status Cult

The Extinction Papers – Chapter Two

 

I am routinely wrong about many things.  The enduring popularity of televised talent shows.  The assured success of former Raider Bill Callahan as the new head coach of my 2004 Nebraska Cornhuskers.  The viability of something called Twitter.  While the second one caused me more pain (barely edged out by the first), the last might be my biggest miss as a cynical and formerly smug prognosticator.

From what I knew of Twitter at the time, I just couldn’t imagine that this insignificant and seemingly limited tentacle of social media would be embraced, let alone last long enough to metastasize into a societal norm, and even a verb (“tweeting” <shudder>).  Allowing one to send out uninteresting life updates in 140 characters from the line at the grocery store (“Ugh! I’m SO ANNOYED by people who pay for their cat food with checks!  FML!”), or the gym (“Just ripped off 15 reps at 230 on bench, bruh . . . Feeling pumped”), or from their own living room (“Watching re-runs of ‘Cagney & Lacey’ on Oxygen, y’all, and gotta’ admit, Tyne Daly is at the top of her game”), just didn’t seem to have any cachet, let alone meaning.  Even with the proliferation of insipid reality programming, I still didn’t foresee the voracious interest in the mundane minutiae of the lives of everyday people.  I had no idea that sharing random thoughts on traffic lights or a blurring phone pic of what one is about to eat for lunch would enthrall a nation, let alone a world.  One would assume that a so-called enlightened civilization would have more important things to occupy their hopefully expanding brains than your college roommate’s recent sock purchase at Target.

But, I was wrong.  Lords of Light, was I ever wrong.  People dig this shit.  CRAVE this shit.  JOIN IN on this shit.

So I sat, baffled — with my quiet, unintelligent phone stowed somewhere in my bag — by the explosion of Twitter and the flood of tweets that were now an essential part of seemingly everyone’s daily lives.  And baffled I remained, until I remembered that in the 21st century, EVERONE wants to be famous and recognized, even if only amongst a small group of friends, family, and online acquaintances.  This is the era where fame trumps all, trampling the desire for talent, happiness, and stability, and just barely edging out success.  Fame is king, queen, emperor, and god.  As such, it attracts acolytes of the Status Cult, who routinely have sacrificed and will sacrifice anything upon the freshly stained, newly hewn titanium altar to achieve immortality, which these days can last only a few minutes, falling far short of that promised Golden Fifteen.
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If Science Kills God, What Fate the Devil?

The Extinction Papers – Chapter One

 

Greetings, dear readers, and welcome to the First Chapter of The Extinction Papers.

I’m genuinely thrilled that The Teeming Brainfather Matt Cardin has asked me to pour out my often daft and hastily supported thoughts into this ever-growing dossier as I attempt to document the multitudinous Mass Extinction of Things happening all around us.  The felling of gods and monsters, culture and mores, tradition and fairy tale.  The annihilation of traditional communication and existence in the moment.  The second toppling of undead Disco.  We are living in deleterious times, and for every spotted owl brought back from the brink of oblivion, often by the efforts of hard science and compassionate preservation, other things — more subtle and possibly more important things — are being blotted from existence with nary a peep.

In The Extinction Papers, I will attempt to chart and discuss the death of those nouns, those persons, places, and things (both concrete and nebulous) that are dying with the day.  Put on your butchers apron and come with me, won’t you?

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