Listening to the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and witnessing the barrage of events, commentary on events, commentary on the commentary on events and general nonsense that takes place on the media, it’s hard to not draw a parallel. My efforts at making sense of it so far have only brought me frustration.
The Roman Empire
Conquering. Jealousy. War. Nepotism. Narcissism (Constantine, Constantius, Constantina…). Ownership. Anger. Revolt. Murder, torture, murder. So far, that seems to sum it up. I can’t help but think about this being the basis of our society and democracy (almost just typo-d democrazy) and how our flowery view of the ideal might be a little corrupt. Granted, I’m only on part three of a twelve-part audio book but since it is just the BEGINNING of the fall of the Roman Empire, I can’t imagine the situation improves greatly. Listening to this book, counterpointed with the speeches, commentary, advertisements and nonstop analysis of this election year, has uncanny similarities. The grandiose verbiage, statements about what we feel being fact, fear mongering, racism, hate, pandering, etc. Participating in this dialogue seems completely futile to me.
Making sense of a situation that is un-sensible is what I’m trying to do. My best efforts to attempt this had to start with diagramming, drawing and mapping. Maybe if I can outline causes and effects, I can watch it occur, find my place in it, and not feel that the futile dialogue generates a futile situation.
I am on my fourth version of this diagram. It started with Giorgio Agamben’s concept of the State of Exception. There always seems to be more to add and I don’t see an end to it. It’s a map of my reasoning and my struggle to understand people’s values and actions. Or, if I can’t understand, I want to at least be able to observe, accept and take action in some kind of personally meaningful way. What can we do when most of the things around us seem meaningless, misguided, hopeless and off-track? Somewhere in there, awareness and humanity resides.