So let’s pretend that you’re me (YOU call the medical insurance people :-\) I consider myself intelligent enough, but I’m not a person with credentials attesting to that. I am not a PhD in anything. By the time I finished my masters degree many years ago, it was clear that colleges were no longer creating tenured positions for people like me. I did the math on what I could earn as an adjunct in NYC and even if I went full-time, it was less than I could make word-processing at a legal service bureau (‘less’ by a couple dozen grand a year, as it turned out). I don’t have the academic credentials to write about climate collapse or runaway global warming. I am not a pedigreed credentialed expert on much of anything. I am a research junkie. I am a storyteller. I read a lot. I occasionally do activism. So… Back to the premise:
What does someone like me do when confronted with near-incontrovertible facts about the certainty of human beings not being able to survive on a planet that has been our only home?
I try to write a play about it dammit!
I am a playwright and (apparently) a screenwriter, and I also perform in one-person shows. I have always been interested in science and politics and war, and when I sit down to write one of my one-person plays I do an extensive amount of research. I spent a year or so researching Monsanto and ‘Frankenfood’ in preparation for writing A GOOD DAY 2 PIE, my play about a 1998 anarchist pie-attack on their CEO. ON THE GRID was based on analysis of the UN’s attempt to get all countries to be money-based–to do away with barter economies and throw poor people in developing countries under the bus. And the play I wrote for the Occupy Wall Street movement, HOW TO STOP THE EMPIRE WHILE KEEPING YOUR DAY JOB, was the result of interviews and discussions I’d had with numerous people who’d done prison time for non-violent direct action. This is what they thought might solve the problems they had fought. I also borrowed a bit from a certain Saul Alinsky.
As a result of research that showed a distressing trend of humans toward their own demise, I decided I should write a play about it. So, about three years after I first embraced the idea of ‘Doomer Porn‘, I have written a play about the subject of near term human extinction. PLANET HOSPICE is a lecture on extinction given by an environmental biology scientist (a fictional chap named Dr. James Light) who’s been cashiered from his cozy university job because his lectures upset his students. He has been wrestling with the question of what people should do if in fact we’re on the way to eternity’s trash compactor–if in fact there will be no history after us because no one will be around to write it or read it. Dr. Light has given up on presenting his thesis in a scientific setting–people have found his message far too disturbing to even show up at his lectures. And so he now presents his case while dressed in clown garb–a mixture of Bozo and the Death Figure from Seventh Seal. And as a clown, he makes jokes. He makes balloon animals. He plays with puppets. He has a slide whistle, which he uses for punctuation. He tells jokes about death and eternity and the Kardashians. Anything to move the story along. And the story is bleak– Absent a miracle or three, we’re out of habitat for humans in as little as 15 years (less if we become unlucky in our dealings with nuclear weapons or we crash our economy to the point where everything goes off the rails).
The narrative of Planet Hospice is based on the work (both peer-reviewed and personal) of Dr. Guy McPherson, Dr. Michael Mann, Dr. Carolyn Baker, the late Michael C Ruppert and others It is not just about the science of extinction–it is also about the emotional impact of coming to an understanding about how little time we have on the planet. We never had very much time on the planet individually, but it is quite disturbing to look into the abyss and realize that as a species, we may be listening to the fat lady sing. But many of us do want to know if in fact there’s limited time left. And the question is about how we act when we know the short clock is ticking–do we fight over the table scraps of civilization, or do we live to our limits as if we’ve been placed in hospice?
So–Funny thing… People haven’t been lining up to produce it…
I’ve written a play that lays out a depressing subject and (I think) lays it out pretty well. I can travel. I can perform on the road. I don’t need a live polar bear for the show. It’s a one-person work, and (like most of my other one-person works), it can be done in non-theater settings. There are parts of it that are funny. I think my friends who’ve read it have been profoundly moved by it (I’ll ask them as soon as they’re off suicide watch). But if you want to start a serious discussion about our plight, take a read or schedule me in. And if you live somewhere far, far away, I will encourage you to find an actor or a reader and put it on. I’m reachable by phone.
And always remember… I am the simple artist. I could be wrong.
Have a great turkey day.