What’s left to write about

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Various Dadaist collages and artworks by Raol Hausman, Kurt Schwitters, Max Ernst and Richard Huelsenbeck

The world is now so post-dada that absurdist meta-commentary has become mainstream. How should writers respond? What is left?

102 years after Cabaret Voltaire and 340 years after Candide we find ourselves in a similar age of pessimism where everybody except our noble leaders can see that we are headed for disaster.

Think you can survive by pursuing expanded consciousness or mindfulness? But I don’t want to be mindful of the current shitspace, nor let my consciousness expand into it. That’s the precise reason I want to escape.

Besides cultivating your own garden and burying your head in the sand of eternal Netflix bingeing, the only other response people have is the darkest humour.

But, sadly for the cynical intelligentsia, reality is beyond satire, unless we are talking about the fad for identity politics and fiction. This fad favours certain minorities over others: if you are black, a woman, gay or transgender this is your time, for what it is worth, since the average attention span is now less than the time it takes to repress an unpleasant thought.

Any other minority is invisible as they have always been. The favoured minorities have their day in the spotlight, but, as this is the end of the world as we know it, no one is watching except their friends.

The original dadaists wanted to escape the horrors of World War I. I want to escape the whole damn shitshow.

Do you do this by following Voltaire and describing in minute detail like a correspondent of the Apocalypse every atrocity the privileged and powerful are inflicting upon the majority and upon the natural world?

Some are scrambling to turn their smallest piece of suffering into click bait, while those who are genuinely suffering are passed by like beggars on the sidewalk; pity is a rapidly inflating emotion. We don’t like to feel it.

Shame is the other taboo; it does exist, just as much as before, but few will admit to it.

Do you describe the fundamental importance of friends and family relationships as the only thing that truly matters when the shit hits the fan?

But I abhor horror and cruelty, and family is too often dysfunctional. Where does that leave me? Confused. Mixed up. Angry. So that’s what I write about.

I can’t be only one who feels like that. How about you?

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