A Brief Aside (Prologue to “Dispatches From a Fly On the Wall”)

Recording Editorial History
5 min readMar 14, 2020


So we are quarantined. No, not because any of us are sick, nor our immediate neighbors, nor anyone, (as far as I know), living within the vicinity. Our whole town is shutting down–no kids at school! Teachers–stay home! Will you be paid? We haven’t decided. Will work ever resume? Let’s wait and see.

A handful around us, more of a hushed rumor, people within our rather vast county, surrounded by numerous other massive counties who have also released hysterical news about some person or other testing positive locally, maybe even dying. All of us are waiting for the clearly overwhelmed CDC to administer their own tests to clear this case as positive.

So what has happened? People have gone bat-shit crazy–and I mean that in the juvenile sense, back in high school when you’re with your friends, talking about some crazy motherfucker; you call them bat-shit. Bat-shit crazy. You know what it means. Let’s transcend its crudeness.

Yes, you fools (you and I), have dived right into panic. “Two weeks,” they say. You are off for two weeks, kids and parents alike. Stay in your homes. Go out for a walk sometimes. Clean up after your pets (maybe wear gloves and a mask when picking up dogshit?) Buy a lot of whatever–swirling the economy briefly as we lumber towards what is clearly the sign of a coming economic collapse.

National governments have been overthrown over such things. People are scared; we are trapped in our homes. No place is open. Every order is managed by a shop online. Stay Home! spooks the ghost of imminent disaster. Be glad if you have a gun. Paranoia reigns. The partisan divide has reached a breaking point. The radicals on the other side, those challenging the radicals who have overtaken our government, they have reached the call for “Revolutionary Succession!” A division between North and South, East and West. Let’s break off away from you crazy motherfuckers, and we can go back to colonial time, each state declaring its own independence, and conforming into some shattered European model, where great empires crumbled into petty rivalries thousands of years before.

Let’s take a look at Europe–certainly a far more fascinating model on the unwinding of organized civilization, certainly more than the bright baby blue shouting outrage to reform the world, bringing on the Second Great Collapse of American Civilization. It is an age of Civil War–I do not say this lightly, me being an occasionally correct prognosticator of future events. No, our nation is irrevocably shattered, unable to continue living the way we are now. The plague (as we take it, we anxious nervous Nellys sniffing doom in every shadow) provides an excellent excuse to fall into the many hatreds that render civilization a part of the hereafter. Everything is mine! far too many of us say in our most shallow moments, all alone, seething and fuming, wondering how everything got so awful?

Oh, there are the armchair optimists–armchair, because all we do is sit around and theorize, explaining the truth while the actors do their best to ignore us. But the optimists are destined to fail (we know it too, your hopelessly cheerful narrator, denying any idea of a worthwhile future, certainly aware of my own self-destruction). All we can see is the growing horror without, usually, having to physically take on anything truly threatening. We humble in fear, joining churches, finding a new God, devoting ourselves wholly to a political party or religion that promises to save us. And we sulk over all of our rivals. We invent things then cry out harm! We live in this fantasy life of an online game, playing different political characters. Most of us–as we always are–really like the villains. This is fantasy. Let’s play the bad guy.

I call this an aside because this is the third piece written for Recording Editorial History in the past eighteen hours. My own humbling is to sit here, penitent, catching up on my projects. This What We Believe story has become something far aside the original concept of telling these stories from the point of view of an injudicious sports caster. Politics was now a sport! It was a bloody boxing match, or an overtime sack that wins you the title. You could even see posters, stapled to telephone polls, running lines which now carry satellite pictures, randomly made of everyone. Politico versus Politico, for high office! It is Pay-Per-View. No matter who wins, it will cost you a fortune.

For me this has become a truly tragic chronicle of the destruction of a great civilization. Oh, worry not! Like the once dominant powers of Europe, some of those fifty states are going to take their interests into other lands. They can build their own empire, kind of a backwards slant into the age of monarchy. King of Texas. Czar of Washington, DC. The Emperor of the North States. America will continue to win at least until your children are old. Eventually some outsider is going to destroy one of the major powers on the North American Continent. Life will crumble into anarchy.

So you see, what I am seeing is a horror story. I’ll admit to a little joy in the notion of what terrible things I get to witness, but it certainly isn’t anything I want. Not for anyone. I do not wish for these late night ideas when all are in bed and my dog is asleep and the cat is sitting in the same spot he was when I started writing today, way back early in the morning. But the divide now facing this should-be unified crisis . . . I just don’t see us holding it together. We live in such anxious times. One newscaster today, clearly giving us some insight into their own daily struggles, asked a doctor about how Coronavirus Panic (already a newly defined illness by some pharmaceutical firm, the cure in the works) affects those already suffering from anxiety. Such a terrifying thing–virus, plague! Everyone might be infected. We are all enemies. It’s the Invasion of the Body Snatchers (https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?isbn=9780684852584&n=100121503&cm_sp=mbc-_-ISBN-_-used)

And so we end, exhausted. I have spent just about the entire day writing, something like eighteen hours. It has been a very productive day. These three pieces, only the first one truly serious, have helped provide a steadiness to work on other projects.

Now I understand that this comes across more as a diary entry than my usual flare, but sometimes one needs to sort their thinking out, taking the time, taking a deep breath, and seriously, trying to be https://www.calm.com/

It should be another fascinating day come morning. I choose to be on shift, and will attempt to bring you whatever depth I have from the rear guard on the battlefield. No doubt hysteria will grow. Stupid public statements will be made (and here the rushed effort to include every side of the spectrum is valid), and vicious attacks will be slogged onto the innocence of belief, tearing people down–again, publicly–for the whole world to enjoy. Listening to the creeks and caws from the upper deck of the cheap seats, blotting out all thought, all vision, all everything. So-called Russian Trolls no longer even need to exist. There is already knowledge they were maybe once there. We can never trust anything ever again.

It still remains that tomorrow, however many days you think it will take to reach it, something new is going to happen and we’d better be prepared.




Recording Editorial History