Some English dude back in 1859 wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…” whoever wrote that purportedly went on to write 95 more words to this sentence, but I digress. When I read this 119 word declaration of despair and wonder I channel my inner Jed Clampett and exclaim, “The dickens you say!” I mean, is that sentiment more apropos of 1859 or 2018?
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
Two-thousand-eighteen is every bit as contradictory, as full of nonsense and wisdom, darkness and light, freedom and despotry as any Nineteenth Century English author could have imagined, but unlike Chuck’s Tale of Two Cities the game isn’t just transparency versus deceit, democracy versus oligarchy and rich versus poor, it’s Man versus Planet and the United States has a Denier In Chief who swears Climate Change is a Chinese hoax and conflates weather with Global Warming.
About three centuries before C.D. penned his book another Brit wrote a play about Richard The Turd, er, Third. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have a little more spring of hope and less winter of despair right about now?
Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
Grim-visaged war hath smooth’d his wrinkled front;
And now, instead of mounting barded steeds
To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
He capers nimbly in a lady’s chamber
To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
Willie’s recounting of Richard gets pretty gloomy-doomy too but I’m going to have my own alt-fact reality and just leave the story with nimble caperings in ladies’ chambers. I hear escapism is yuge right now.