It was a dark evening (11pm at this time was “evening”), and I was sat in a living room larger than half of the basement suites I’ve lived in, listening to Yellow Monkey, playing Geometry Wars 2, and maintaining an hours-long monologue about my history of sleep. I was thinking about sleep because I had been experiencing it in strange ways of late. I had a bed, but the bed was in a small room, and being in the small room felt strange when such a large house was empty and available, so I often found myself falling asleep halfway up a set of stairs, or on a rug on the hardwood floor.
It was my third experience of “living alone,” and the first that gave me the thought that maybe I should grow up. Dishes piled in the sink and dishwasher, newspapers’ crossword pages were strewn across the floor, miniature Sprite cans were hidden in strange alcoves (for a project), and a single armchair in the living room had been arranged in the direct centre of the room, a few feet from the television. There were no pizza boxes or take-out materials of any sort; I had never ordered a pizza before and I knew not how. I subsisted on a gigantic tortellini casserole and several tupperwares of rice I had made the week before.
The Rio Olympics were on TV. I lounged, groaning, for hours upon hours of every day watching women’s ping pong, women’s archery – any sport where I could watch women execute technically proficient movements with finesse. Of course, time had to be made for tennis as well, and when none of that was on, I turned the TV off and stared at walls. I can’t watch swimming. I’m sorry, but I just don’t understand the appeal of water.
–**BZZRT**– –**BZZRT**– –**BZZRT**–
WE INTERRUPT THIS ACCOUNT OF A YOUNG MAN TRANSFORMING INTO A SLIGHTLY OLDER YOUNG MAN FOR A SPECIAL NEWS BULLETIN STRAIGHT FROM THE DESK OF ALISTAIR TUDSBURY, WAR CORRESPONDENT COVERING THE PHILOSOPHICO-PELOPONNESIAN WAR ERUPTING IN THE FARAWAY REALM OF BACKLWEL:
A fatal strike has been delivered on the forces of Balckwellism! Today, the Earth Defense Forces launched their amphibious counter-strike upon the Isle of Proustillia, reportedly wiping out the slumbering air force on the Haldgren Airfield!
It seems hope has come at last for the people of the world! The menace of Balckwellism that has corrupted the minds of so many youths across the world, transforming them from productive, vibrant societal contributors into selfish, solipsistic writer-translators, looks to be on its back foot for the first time since the start of this hideous war.
But we must not rest easy! The fight will continue as long as their leader, the enigmatic Balckwell resides in his secret palace along the banks of the Tiber. Fight on, my lads!
*WE RETURN TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAM*
Well, ain’t that something, folks? Looks like Balckwellism isn’t as strong as we all thought! We’ve cancelled the scheduled program, as our producers found that it reeked of Balckwellist propaganda. We shall instead fill the time with a re-run of Alistair Tudsbury’s famous prophetic essay, penned six months before the breakout of war. We hope that it shall provide you with an opportunity for reflection:
The Seasons Change Only You, and Other Lies: The Dangers of Balckwellism, by Alistair Tudsbury
It has come to my attention recently that a new spectre is haunting Earth – the spectre of Balckwellism. It seems that many youths are being pulled into this new ideology, or, to use a more accurate word, cult. You may have only heard of it in passing, perhaps as a joke. I regret to inform you that the joke has become reality, and this shallow, nightmarish amalgamation of ideas is capturing the imagination of young people across the world.
So, what are the core tenets of Balckwellism? Drastic individualism, abandonment of societal norms, hedonistic pursuit of a pain-free existence, and a complete casting aside of duty and responsibility. One can see clearly why this appeals to the young, can’t one? But this goes beyond mere youthful rebellion. It has been reported that the founder of the movement is in his late 40s, and resides in a palace near Rome, subsisting on the labours of his “disciples,” or as we might call them, slaves.
It almost feels foolish to contemplate Balckwell’s absurd cosmology, but it does bear mentioning. Mankind is susceptible to being swept away by mythos, and Balckwell wisely wields this power for his wicked purposes. His barely intelligible writings seem to centre around an entity he calls the Soup Web. This Soup Web acts almost as a Web of Maya, entrapping us all inside of a certain unreal reality. According to Balckwell, the Soup Web is the primary source of despair in this world. It is not beyond reasoning to interpret the Soup Web as a representation of adult society, which carries certain expectations that it seems Balckwell, stuck in his perpetual adolescence, can never hope to meet or even understand.
He claims to be a scholar, but has no academic credentials: he has never attended a university, never published a paper – to be frank, has not contributed anything of value to the pursuit of knowledge. He revives that dangerous notion of subjective knowledge, and its even more dangerous sibling: subjective morality. This irresponsible corruption of pseudo-philosophy is one of the greatest threats to our society, and I fear that when the number of his followers reaches a certain point, it could spell the ruin of our entire civilization.
What is a person, but a member of a society, of a civilization? We all stand on the shoulders of the generations that came before, who worked together, sacrificing their individual pleasure for the good of all. Those that hid away and waffled their time away writing troddle or otherwise wasting the beautiful and glorious physical and mental capabilities given unto us by God, were rightly persecuted and shamed. What good is this so-called art? Paintings, novels, films – they should lift us up! They should teach us of the good that we can do! And how is that good achieved? Hard work!
Laziness is not a virtue, as Balckwellism would lead you to believe. Humanity reached the point it has reached via work, not via lazing around. We built the world, one brick at a time, one crop at a time, sometimes dying in the process. And Balckwell has the gall to throw it all away, so he can thrash about before a keyboard, spewing venom and anger at the world for not conforming to his personal desires! Why should the world conform to you? It is up to you to lift yourself up in order to belong to the world!
Imagine a world of people who live only for themselves! Imagine a world in which one mystic, sheltered away in the shadows of Italy, can bend the world for his own gain! This is what I see when I cast my ken upon our future! Balckwellism frightens me, and it should you, too. Our sense of community has been lost. Our sense of family has been lost. We are isolated atomic units, easy prey for a con-man like Balckwell.
So what can we do? Well, we fight! We fight by restoring the ties that link us together: ties of family, ties of civilization, ties of culture. We fight by showing the young people of our world a better vision of the future than Balckwellian hedonism and near-nearsightedness. The children need hope!
And if we fail, we will have to fight in the streets, on the sea, and on the beaches. It seems far-fetched and ridiculous now, but there may come a day when you will have to put on your kit and fight for the world you want to live in. Is it a Balckwellian hellscape? Or is it a well-oiled, functional society where we all contribute our part? I am old; it is not for me to decide. There is nothing I can do but put my pen to paper, and hope that the world ends up in good hands when I must leave it.
I know it seems as if I’m overreacting. You may ask how or why this ideology could become so popular as to actually become an existential threat to our current way of life? In that sense, I must admit myself incapable of understanding the currents that run through the human consciousness. All I can say, is that I have searched my heart, and determined that to overreact would be a far lesser sin in this instance than to under react. Heed my call: Balckwellism is a menace. It will be our ruin, I tell you!
– January 2039