One of the questions that have plagued authors over the years is what I would call a ‘post-apocalyptic-dread-survival-of-the-fittest-paranoia’.
Read any end of the world fiction, from Cormac McCarthy’s The Road to David Brin’s The Postman to Walter M. Miller, Jr.’s A Canticle for Leibowitz (perhaps a less brutal example) and you’ll see it: the shit rises to the top and the most brutal, neanderthal members of our race take over as, of course, ‘might equals right’.
The current paralysis Europe faces at the hands of a mere volcano does make one wonder if our continued dependence on technology is proving to be a bad thing – the more neanderthals depend on their Sky TV or mobile phones, the less likely they are to be the floaters when the end of the world turns up.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m hardly a luddite – all you have to look at is the number of computers I have in my house to see how I make my living. And I do want an iPad, even though it sounds like a tampon!
I could, of course, always go back to pen and paper and a manual typewriter, although I have to say my dependence on auto-correction and spell check would mean having to learn to type properly again.
Going back to living off the land is a dream for many, particularly with the continued rise in food prices – all you have to do is watch an episode of River Cottage to see what it’s all about. But the simple fact is we no longer have the space necessary for that — I’d need about six times my current garden space just to grow the fruit and vegetables to feed my family, so don’t even think about cows, pigs or chickens.
What is our obsession about the world ending? Thirty years ago, in the midst of the cold war when nuclear warheads were likely to fall any moment, I can understand the paranoia – in fact I remember it. But now? A major economic crisis and another surge in doomsday media. It can’t be healthy.
I have to ask myself why survival experts like Ray Mears
and Bear Grylls are also popular. Are we all preparing for the apocalypse? I know I’ve started stashing water under the house with tinned food and a small generator, so we’ll be okay – that laptop doesn’t take that much power, sod the freezer.
And I guess that’s the question really: how would you survive if the electricity went off for good tomorrow?