The Terrible Now
In a conversation with a friend recently discussing the impending publication of this latest collection of my work the subject of the title surfaced. When I remarked I intended to employ the title The Terrible Now, the reaction was rather mixed. The central question that seemed to go begging was, What’s so Terrible about Now ?
I realized that a good point (or least a valid question) had been raised.
Despite the overwhelming negative denotation and connotations associated with the word Terrible, I believe in the using the term in conjunction with Now creates alternative possibilities to understand what I wish to convey by The Terrible Now.
Indeed if you look up the word terrible in the dictionary, the news is not good. Synonyms such as fearful, frightful, appalling, dire, horrifying and dreadful are predominate in the definition. The word terrible is derived from the Greek terrin-
to tremble or Latin terribillis-frightful. And over a period of time the severity of the definition has grown in intensity. In 1526 the term was seen as a weakened sense of very bad. By 1833 the negative sense had increased to be defined as extremely and in 1930 extremely badly is added (however awkwardly) I believe we get the point.
But there is a usage of this extreme description of the definition I find most interesting.
It can be found listed fourth on the possible ways to interpret meaning and is as follows
formidably great….as in a terrible potential. It is from this point I will try and explain something of what I believe The Terrible Now is all about.
As you hold this book in your hands at this very moment you are indeed experiencing the Terrible Now. However transitory, elusive and even illusionary, I defy you to hold on to this second that just passed and this new one that is now gone. Now I don’t want to digress into Sophistry here (but really you have to admire the Sophist, those ancient Greek philosophers who pissed everybody off so long ago with their exanimation/discourse of life’s most basic mysteries and contradictions to earn a dismissive general definition in contemporary dictionaries of even seriously considering their arguments) but from my point of view this is where we all are. Perpetually cast adrift in the Terrible Now.
Consider what you know of the relationship in your life between reality, time and identity. All we perceive of our existence is in the past. That past is gone. Long gone. Never to return. Those who insist in living there, never grow, thrive or see the world other than through the perspective of what has vanished/disappeared. Many live for today, failing to remember the mistakes of the past and (as they say) are doomed to repeat those failures. While existing only in the present invites all sorts of Carpe Diem romanticism, indulgence and general hell raising (which is good time, but) you fail to prepare yourself to the reality of just what the hell you’re going to do if tomorrow shows up. This of course brings us to the concept of the future, that I would congratulate you for just entering this very moment. Beyond that however, there are of course absolutely no assurances of next year, next month, or even tomorrow at suppertime.
Are you beginning to see the dimension of the tightrope I’ve drawn out here for all us to have to balance upon ?
Of course, the key to comprehending any of this (if you really want to, gives me a headache) is awareness. The majority of the population never considers in the slightest the condition of living life with this concept even in the back of their mind.
Modern life now is very shallow. Distractions and deceptions abound. We are not encouraged to think, consider or ponder. We are inundated with a media assault on our senses 24/7 to consume. Obey. Conform. Reflection and individuality exist only as pre-packaged options readymade to define, adorn, and suffocate.
And that is pretty te