Trash talk

By JAMES PARKER  |  November 7, 2007

It’s our planet, god damn it, and we’ll do what we like with it
Eco-guilt’s opposing principle is not eco-skepticism. After all, if you don’t believe in global warming, then these intimations of culpability are an illusion, mere fevers of the daffy liberal brain. No, the real moral counterweight to eco-guilt is eco-fuckit, which we might define as a perverse complicity in the spoliation of the planet. As in: “I really should recycle this . . . ah, fuckit.” Or: “We could walk there, thus conserving energy . . . fuckit. Let’s drive.” Or even: “Yeah, sure, drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will mess the place up a bit, particularly for the bears and whatnot . . . but fuckit.”

It’s a complicated reaction. Part of it, no doubt, is just righteous human rebellion: hearing the senatorial drone of Al Gore, seeing the orthodoxy of environmentalism arrayed before them with its prophecies and injunctions, a certain percentage of persons — helmet-less bikers, say, and millionaire congressmen — are going to say, “Screw that, daddy-o. I do what I want.” They’re just gonna. (It’s in the American grain.) But the other part is more mysterious: in the fuckit moment one assents to the apocalypse with the same avidity, the same weird ardor with which, when drunk, one seeks out porn or fast food. Some coarse and destructive spirit takes possession. We feel the cozy fires of Hell at our feet, and we wriggle our tootsies in delight. At such moments the Earth itself, possibly, is saying fuckit. She may have had enough of us.

And really, can you blame her? Take, for example, the comparatively recent phenomenon of bottled water. In what bonkers recess of species pride did we decide, having achieved the centuries-in-the-making miracle of drinkable tap water, that it was necessary to begin a constant slurping from little plastic bottles? And when did everybody get so damn thirsty? The definitive comment on this matter was provided by Gay Talese when he was interviewed for the March 4, 2002, edition of The New York Observer. “I saw Ralph Nader on C-SPAN,” groused the vintage journo and author of Thy Neighbor’s Wife, “he was running for something, God knows what. I see Nader having delivered a speech at some university with 11 adoring people applauding him, and he’s on the stage with his old Brooks Brothers suit from 1963, and he’s carrying a bottle of bottled water in his hand. . . . And I think, ‘Get off it with this. Just do it, just do anything, just die! Just drink, be merry, and drop dead; just get out of here with your plastic bottle of Evian!’ ”

Power and torque are king
The concept of original sin drove the medievals crazy. Born into wrongness, and floundering through wrongness all his life, the man in the medieval street became erotically obsessed with Hell, its licking flames and bondage scenarios, etc. He bought “indulgences” to lessen the load of his sin, much in the manner that we now buy “carbon offsets” with our plane tickets. But guilt stank up everything: living your life in the ordinary way, you were screwed. The information was everywhere.

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