The End of the World
The Machine Will Never Triumph, part twenty-nine
Our day is over
Our day is over, night comes up
shadows steal out of the earth.
wash over our knees and splash between our thighs,
our day is done;
we wade, we wade, we stagger, darkness rushes between our stones,
we shall drown.
Our day is over
night comes up.1
Our civilization produced some great marvels of art, but also produced innumerable horrors. Modern civilization seemed endless for some time, but now the cracks are starting to show. The end is nigh; the only question is whether the end of this way of life will be the end of all life or the beginning of a resurgence of life. Lawrence describes our day, its godlessness, and its machine-ridden emptiness in biblical language as follows:
I see […] the seed of David rising up and covering the earth, […] then they wheel against the sun, and are dark like the locusts sweeping in heaven, like a pillar of locusts moving, yea, as tall, dark cloud upon the land. Till they drop in drops of blood, like thunder-rain, and the land is red. […] And they thicken and thicken, till the world’s air grates and clicks as with the wings of locusts. And man is his own devourer, and the Deep turns away, without wish to look on him further. So the earth is a desert, and manless, yet covered with houses and iron. […] And the world shall be godless, there shall be no god walk on the mountains, no whirlwind shall stir like a heart in the deeps of the blue firmament. And God shall be gone from the world. Only men shall there be, in myriads, like locusts, clicking and grating upon one another, and crawling over one another. The smell of them shall be as smoke, but it shall rise up into the air, without finding the nostrils of God. For God shall be gone! gone! gone! And men shall inherit the earth! Yea, like locusts, and whirring on wings like locusts. […] Godless the world! Godless the men in myriads even like locusts.—No God in the air! No God on the mountains! Even out of the deeps of the sky, they lured him, into their pit! So the world is empty of God, empty, empty, like a blown egg-shell bunged with wax and floating meaningless.2
And if the world is truly destined to end, including all life on the planet, one must not fret, nor fear, nor mourn. All one can do is live the best life he can here and now. The present is eternity, and all experience is already eternal, no matter how fleeting. To see the fluttering of a bird’s wings, to feel sea breeze on one’s face, or to look into the eyes of a mountain lion is already a transcendent experience. If the world ends, that does not mean that we end. Our souls are eternal. And so if we work and we strive for good, and beauty finally perishes from the world, still our souls will be with the Gods, and life will go on. Life always goes on, life will always triumph, and the Machine will perish from existence as a meaningless and transitory aberration. The Fire at the root of all that is has no beginning and has no end. Lawrence writes:
Well, if mankind is destroyed, if our race is destroyed like Sodom, and there is this beautiful evening with the luminous land and trees, I am satisfied. That which informs it all is there, and can never be lost. After all, what is mankind but just one expression of the incomprehensible. And if mankind passes away, it will only mean that this particular expression is completed and done. That which is expressed, and that which is to be expressed, cannot be diminished. There it is, in the shining evening. Let mankind pass away—time it did. The creative utterances will not cease, they will only be there. Humanity doesn’t embody the utterance of the incomprehensible any more. Humanity is a dead letter. There will be a new embodiment, in a new way. Let humanity disappear as quick as possible.3
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