September 27, 2020

Some passages from M Archive: After the End of the World

Some passages from M Archive: After the End of the World by Alexis Pauline Gumbs:


it hurt to move. it hurt to breathe. the food decline plateaued because it hurt so much to eat. and we were thick in our clothes for swelling. and when our eyes swole shut we couldn’t see. and then we finally saw. we saw it.

we hadn’t told the truth is so damn long.


at some point the work of pretending we weren’t going to die, that our children weren’t going to die, that our deaths and lives weren’t going to be forgotten, became unsustainable. it was hard enough to just breathe and metabolize. to find something to metabolize. to find people to metabolize near. now some people call it the true end of whiteness, when the world could finally operate based on something other than fear of blackness, of being, of death. but at the time all we knew was the story had run out. all the stories. of staying young to cheat death. of thinking young people wouldn’t die. of immortality via “making a difference.” of genetic imprint as stability. of stacking money and etching names on buildings. people used to do those things before. not to mention that they would not mention death and would hide the dying away and strive to protect the eyes of the children who already knew everything.

at some point. all the dead being here anyway and all of us here being obviously doomed, we let go of that particular game. and started breathing. and saw our hands.

we let go.

i felt like i could fly.


what we wanted was to want to. not to have to do anything. and the problem was we forgot after all these years of force what wanting was.

want was not getting, nor was it having. wanting was not needing. wanting was not having to have or needing not to need. it was not. and there was a wideness in wanting that didn’t quite fold in on itself. it deepened and rose up and radiated out and touched softly to itself with warm warning.


not knowing when made them reckless in their trust and irresponsible in their love attempts.


we questioned the end point of evolution when we noticed it wasn’t us.


so she happened to remember the time of the surface people who had hated and manipulated depth in their vain attempt to accept death. how they had blown the peaks off of mountains like this to dig out the darkness they couldn’t find in themselves. how they had blasted into the ground threatening all the underneath water to frack out the darkness they couldn’t trust in themselves. the surface people, she inhaled and exhaled, who blew a hole in the sky as big as what they were unwilling to know.


that was the challenge. to create oneself anew on a regular basis. it started with every seven years (also called the new cell cycle) and accelerated for the talented. to every three years, every year, every season, every month, every day until the prestige came from re-creating a self unrecognizable (to both your former self and the expectations of others) multiple times in any given day. they said it was towards the evolution of the community. a community that could not depend on previous expectations would have to evolve new needs. their individual shapeshifting was towards less collective dependence on a former world. let the new world meet us faster where we are! the people sometimes said to affirm a particularly brave invention.

they went from mostly not knowing their neighbors to perpetually not knowing themselves. which seemed more useful. and like the rare urban neighbor with the time to watch their transforming neighbors walk in and out their doors differently every day, the social media applications were even more useful for creating narrative out of the random moments of self-documentation offered by the digitally literate.

maybe that’s where they went wrong. the watching. because at some point the point changed from transforming need and evolving skills to performing further and further newness. as if novelty itself was the measure and the outcome and the point again. and eventually it distilled down to the same people looking different every day and going to the same places they always went just to provoke contrast and doing the same things they always did (eventually just the work of looking for and financing new costumes). so the challenge was called off around the time when it got most boring.

it wasn’t worth the use of fossil fuels.