Dont worry. This is not Green Lake Park. This is the future.
"Don't worry. This is not Green Lake Park. This is the future." HBO

Now is a good time to consider the new series Station Eleven. It's based on a novel of the same name by the Obama-approved Canadian novelist Emily St. John Mandel. The book concerns a post-apocalyptic world that finds the human population reduced to something terrifyingly minuscule, around 7 million, and human entertainment reversed to Shakespeare's olde times. Patrick Somerville and Hiro Murai developed the show for HBO Max. It stars Himesh Patel, Gael García Bernal, and, above all, Mackenzie Davis, who also starred in what many considered to be the best episode of Black Mirror, the Gen X lesbian fairy-tale "San Junipero."

After watching its first two episodes, I had no idea where this beautifully shot series would go. There did not seem to be much of a story because, in the realm of popular entertainment, the end of the world always tells us nothing about the future after capitalism but how we confuse capitalist realism with reality. And so we find in The Book of Eli this confused idea that the thing that matters most to post-capitalist humans is the consumption of meat. It means everything. Life or death. Or, in Mad Max, a film inspired by the 1973 oil crisis, it's gasoline. You are going nowhere in life without it. Or, as in the case with Michael Haneke's Time of the Wolf, the result of capital's collapse is a social world that makes more sense to gorillas than humans. We are the physically weak ape. We have nothing like silverbacks to anchor a family or group in nature; but in Time of the Wolves, it's either clumping with human silverbacks or death.

In the second episode of Station Eleven, "A Hawk from a Handsaw," the world after the end makes its first detailed appearance. In this other time, which is 20 years after the collapse of historical time or, put another way, time as progress (in short, Hegelian history, but the geist not as spirit but as the class-driven unfolding of capital), horses are once again useful. Humans get around on them. In fact, this powerful animal, which spent much of the 20th century doing very little outside of the realm of riding sports (racing, dressage, show jumping, polo, and so on), even pull the remains of the key technology of post-war American civilization, cars. If the look of life in Station Eleven's aftermath is examined and compared with our present experience, it is impossible not to conclude that those living in the homeless camps and RVs of today are not of their time but already very much in the future.


The third episode of Station Eleven, "Hurricane," which Hiro Murai directed and which stars the nervous energy of Danielle Deadwyler (she plays Miranda, a manager for a Chicago-based shipping corporation), is so far the best because it doesn't deal with what happens after our form of society expires. It's exclusively about the moments leading to that expiration; in this way, the episode comes very close to precisely capturing the mood we find ourselves caught in as the pandemic enters its second year.
Thats the look of our pandemic blues...
That's the look of our pandemic blues... HBO

The virus keeps mutating. COVID's ghosts keep growing. The information is confusing. How bad is Omicron? Is it as deadly as Delta? Is there something even worse coming our way? It seems it's only a matter of time before one of these bugs has our number and many of us find ourselves in Miranda's absurd situation: stuck somewhere we do not want to be when the world comes to an end.

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