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The end of the world and all that shit

Tuesday, 1 January 2013 - 10:00am IST | Agency: dna

What were you doing when the world was ending?” is not a question that a human being is normally expected to answer.

What were you doing when the world was ending?” is not a question that a human being is normally expected to answer. But that’s what I was doing the day after the day marked for the biggest Event in the history of the world — its end. For those of you who haven’t been told yet: I was busy squabbling over which was better for the bottom: a square toilet or a round one.

Let me explain. My wife was determined that if there was one thing she wanted done before the world ended, it was to die with a bathroom she wouldn’t have to be ashamed of. So we spent the second week of December selecting tiles, chasing the plumber, and researching toilets.

I wanted a round pot because the human bottom is round (sort of) and also because I prefer roundness as a matter of aesthetic principle. But my wife believed that a square toilet would look more elegant as debris, and weather an apocalypse better. So, after a long and bitter argument which I lost, naturally, we ended up buying a square pot. My only consolation was that it didn’t really matter because, the world was going to end anyway, and then I wouldn’t be around to produce shit.

But as usual, it turned out that I was slow on the uptake. It took me a while to register that, for the doomsday believers, the end of  the world did not mean that they themselves would cease to exist — it only signified a mega-calamity that they, and they alone, along with their family, friends, pets (and if they are lucky, their favourite pornstars), would survive.

But if you ask me, personally, I believe the end of the world is an idea whose time has come. As a lifetime pessimist and technophobe and eco-fundamentalist who holds that all forms of life on the planet (save mosquitoes) have equal rights to life and dignity, I sincerely believe the extinction of the human race would serve the greater common good.

When the dinosaurs returned to the evolutionary pavilion after a marathon innings of 180 million years, they left the planet, if not a better place than they found it, at least no worse. We humans have barely played a couple of overs, and we’ve already wrecked the pitch, poisoned the opposition, and burnt down half the stadium. If you ask any cockroach, it would tell you that life was much better under the dinosaurs — there were no pesticides in leftovers, and hardly any traffic.

I am not particularly fond of machines, but I am with Agent Smith on his assessment of the human species. In that memorable scene in Matrix — arguably the greatest cinematic indictment of the technophilia and the digital onanism that drives human civilization today — Agent Smith, a computer program, tells a bashed up and battered Morpheus that human beings are no different from a virus: “Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You’re a plague and we are the cure.”

As someone with a vested interest in the welfare of the planet, I was hoping the cure would happen on December 21st. But alas, the disease will live on. We will continue to fry the planet, plunder mountains and seas, pollute the rivers and the air, poison the lakes and the very source code of life — the planetary gene pool — in the name of progress and technology. And we will continue to wage war for peace, make arms for security, and build prisons to protect our liberty. Who would mourn the passing away of a world such as this? Or celebrate its non-perishing? Not me. And not even the doomsday junkies.

It’s not as if, on December 21, the doomsday believers really expected the entire planet to disappear in a puff of smoke, or the earth to be smashed by a colliding planet into a million little pieces, each country now perched atop a tiny piece of planetary real estate with its own atmosphere to pollute and species to make extinct and ozone layer to make holes in.

Yet there is hope. If you really think about it, the ‘end’ not happening on December 21 may not be a cancellation, but merely a postponement. The end of the world is not an event, but a process. A process orchestrated exclusively by the human species. And you and I are either passive participants or active agents of this process.
So, to come back to the main issue: crapping into a square pot every day instead of a round one is not the end of the world, is it?
THE END — haha


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