The End of the World

They often ask me, How will it end? They, the people, the ones who think about such things; and it, the world, I presume, the earth but also everything upon it. They ask me because I know, because I have seen the future. I alone have seen it, not in a dream or a vision but in math. Dreams and visions may deceive, but math is pure. It does not lie. So they ask me, How will it end?

I reply, “What do you mean?” It is important to clarify one’s terms. “Do you mean to ask,” I say, “‘What is the demise of our species’? Or, ‘How will the earth be destroyed’? Or, ‘What will become of the solar system’?” There is a differing answer for each. The fate of a man is not the same as the fate of the earth, nor the fate of a solar system the same as the fate of the universe, not necessarily. They may suffer the same fate, of course, but it is not inevitable that they will. A solar system and a universe are two different things, related but also separable. It is important to be clear what one means by one’s words.

How many of us assume that, for instance, the fate of humankind coincides with the fate of the earth, even of the universe, when the truth may well be that the earth goes on, happily, without us. Yes, it is more than possible that we homo sapiens will perish and that everything else will go along on its merry path as if nothing of consequence had happened. In this case the end of the world would have nothing to do with us, and we with it. In this case our demise would not be an ending any more than it would also be a beginning—the beginning of all that occurs once we have vacated the scene.

“What will happen to us?” they say, or rather most of them say. Some do ask about the other animals, or about the Sun, or the cosmos. In most cases however human curiosity is limited to the human race. This should come as a surprise to no one. We think of ourselves as the alpha and the omega, the peak of creation, the measure of all things, the supreme species. We think that we are somehow special in this universe, that we are the reason that there even is a universe.

This principle, I would say of the ego, has numerous manifestations. When people learned that the America president-elect was a sympathizer of the Russian president, they asked “What does this mean for America?” They could well have asked, What does this mean for the nations of the world? Or for the Ukraine, or Estonia, or Russia. Or many other things. But, no, their concern was for America, only for America.

What if I had told you that the world would end, yes the earth and all that is upon it shall perish, as a clear and direct consequence of events set in motion by the election? I am not telling you that this is so, but rather I am asking you to imagine that I had told you so before the election. Imagine that all the people of the world had been told. Notice I do not say “warned.” Because, you see, many would have rushed eagerly to pull the lever, so to speak, to cast their vote for the end. Far from seeing my words as cautionary or corrective, as last opportunity to turn this way or that and by doing so to avoid calamity, they would see my words as an invitation to bring on the apocalypse.

Yes, I know how the world ends. I have worked out the precise date and nature of our extinction. I watch as we plunge toward it, as if driven by a mad hunger. And because I know what is to come I also know that we seek and desire it. What happens to us is no accident. Even now, even at this hour, we are preparing it, setting the pieces deliberately into place. Tomorrow we will put more pieces into place, and in the tomorrow after that, more pieces. Relentlessly, more pieces, until the work is done.

To be candid, I used to care. This knowledge of mine used to bother me. For years I fought off the urge to shout from the mountain. Indeed, I made some noises, in the beginning, when I had worked out the nature of our destruction. But I soon realized it was foolish of me to carry on this way, when the end was simply a function of everything that had come before, like the pages of a novel. What is the point of protesting the end of a story? The end must come, eventually. It is not to be avoided, even if it could be avoided, which it cannot. For the end of a story necessarily follows from all that came before. To protest the end is to protest all that came before, every single page of the novel that led to the ending. The only logical action is to burn the novel before the story gets started. Once it is started, the story must go on until it ends. The only logical act of a reader is to become lost in the story, to follow the plot with interest as it runs its course.

Yes, this is how it ends, with you being absorbed in the plot and with the beginning yielding to the middle yielding to the end, inexorably. You will sense it when it approaches, and perhaps you have done so already. By that time it is too late. The force of necessity has set it, and that is that. There is nothing to be done, except to enjoy the story to the end, to be lost in it, to be carried along to the end. Understand that it ends soon, and that there is nothing to be done, for reasons I have explained already. Nor does it matter, not really. It is only a story, and you are merely a reader, only a reader of the human story, carried along until the tale ends and then emptiness.

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