“I do not weep at the world–I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.”
– Zora Neale Hurston
“What is a rebel? A man who says no, but whose refusal does not imply a renunciation. He is also a man who says yes, from the moment he makes his first gesture of rebellion.”
– Albert Camus, The Rebel
“I go over my own escape routes all the time. To survive in this state, you have to think like the French Resistance.”
― Tim Dorsey, writing about Florida in The Stingray Shuffle
Everybody pretends this is Florida in the 30’s, the 50’s, the 80’s. Nobody wants to stare into the ugly mess we’ve become or the horrible future that lies ahead. This isn’t a question of philosophy or ethics but a fundamental problem of perception that leaks into everything. Take foreign policy: if we don’t change something quick we’ll be left behind as the planet descends into the fourth layer of robot hell.
I am parked underneath a causeway, the rhythmic beat of tires against concrete echoing across the Kia which now serves as a small cabin. Pillow behind my back and stretched in the back seat, I’m typing away as I think about how many days we could camp here. The car, as always, is kitted out for misadventure: camping stove, mosquito net, hammock, table, cooking gear, and a host of supplies as well as enough beer to enjoy them.
We weren’t in the woods. Florida’s Scenic Highway is our preferred hunting ground, a stretch of road riding up from the Keys all the way to the demilitarized zone bordering Georgia. Beside the pavement we travel is a constantly changing landscape: mangrove swamps and dilapidated motels, the Indian River and stark naked ocean, abandoned orange groves and mutated beach communities where palm trees once towered above the buildings.
Those in particular always seem dumbstruck, confused at how big they’d gotten. Rather than change they hold on to a memory, selling the illusion that everything is the same. Condos litter the shore, the mom-and pop’s have been shut down by Walmart, hell you can’t even buy fresh squeezed orange juice on the side of the road anymore.
So be it. We live and play in the here and now. The spirits of this land still speak to me, still run strong.
As the reassuring stink of low-tide hits my nostrils I laugh at the anxiety of comrades about the future. Will we invade Iran? Will we attack North Korea? And if we do…what then? The anxiety spills out to performative gestures: filters for profile pictures, memes, and the occasional street rally.
But what does that do?
The answer usually given is those in power will become aware that we, the “people,” will not stand idly by as they slaughter millions. That our rage has consequences. Politicians that want to get elected will heed the will of the people. We will go to the polls.
But what if the polls no longer matter?
We talk about war like its something that rolls out, like a rug. That it requires mobilization. That at any point the people, given just enough information and just enough voice, could stop the train and end it. We picture presidents and cabinet members rubbing their hands, hoping the voters stay quiet. We like to think we have that power.
That our emotions alone, our indignation, might set the world aright.
The truth is being “anti-war” is the same as being “anti-space” on the Space Coast. You might believe humanity nothing more than a pack of locusts, you might truly think the export of capitalism beyond our atmosphere will be nothing more than ejaculating the most foul, diseased, and fetid load onto the most pristine face we’ve ever encountered, but at the end of the day you long ago lost the ability to do anything about it.