august 2017. i was at my family’s cottage for the last time before relocating from ontario to manitoba. my son + i were spending time together one morning doing a favourite activity of his: writing stories. while it’s typically something he does by himself, that day i picked up a pencil crayon as well + proceeded to record a partially-formed idea about the moon being destroyed by a group of lunatics. before that time, all i had was a title – “lunacy” – along with a vague post-apocalyptic notion of a narrative (that in retrospect was surely inspired by the lunar destruction event in the 2013 film “oblivion”).
the short story i wrote was probably the first one i composed since high school. and it differed slightly in its original form, as the first version of “lunacy” initially ended with the moon’s destruction not having the catastrophic effects that were envisaged by the group responsible (who themselves ultimately face exile from earth, never to return). however, i was never satisfied with the first draft ending, as it seemed too “happily ever after.” for this reason, i reworked the conclusion so that destroying the moon actually led to extinction for all (as opposed to having no major impact + the wronged receiving justice). i also put a dialectical spin on the story that deliberately highlights my experiences of: (1) the ruinous hazards of religious/spiritual extremism, (2) the non-theoretical, occam’s razor-esque notion that there might be nothing beyond this life that we’re living, and (3) that the fact we exist – i.e. that we are here instead of there being nothing – should nonetheless give us pause to consider that there could be something else going on (even if what exactly it is cannot be verifiably known). accordingly, the song “destroy the moon” is about rethinking the nature + value of our life together as planetary cohabitants. because regardless of a person or group’s convictions about what may or may not be real, what’s actual – as jason martin wrote in the starflyer 59 song “mr. martin” about the death of his father – is that, “nobody can stay on top.” in the meantime, our collective experience of existence would be inarguably better if we all sought to avoid speeding up the process of mortality by committing to a disengagment from fear-based armament against assumed “others” (with our words, world-views + weapons of war).
the song itself was written from the perspective of people who i’ve dubbed “hereafterists,” which plainly refers to anyone – christian or otherwise – who places more emphasis on a hoped-for/speculative continuance of being. the problem, of course, with any theology of evacuation is that what we encounter from birth to death is then taken to be significant only insofar as it’s a means to an end. to say the same thing differently, it seems to me that most of escapist thinking – especially in christian circles – in the end is only ever concerned with leaving earth behind (in disarray, no less). and while adherents feign concern regarding how people live their lives, it’s always inextricably motivated by some kind of assumed cosmic remuneration for good behaviour (as well as crippling anxiety about prospective retribution). this would seem to detract from whatever opportunity we do have to exist here + now – effectively robbing people of their ability to experience + enjoy events as ends in themselves. related to this, neo-evangelicals are quick to point out that our short years in this world are nothing compared to “eternity” (that the “right” people will enjoy in “heaven”). however, such a belief mistakenly presumes “eternal” is a quantitative category – i.e. interminable, forever, etc – when it’s properly understood as a description of state (i.e. the quality of one’s life). accordingly, if there is any sort of “after beyond,” what makes the most sense to me is that it would at most be like the epilogue or afterward in a book (as opposed to chapter two in a neverending story). “destroy the moon” simply takes it one step further by wondering aloud about the possibility that, “there was never more than this.” it’s understandably not a popular idea. and i don’t particularly like it myself. but i have found it to be a valuable thought experiment to reflect on why we believe the things we do, what our motivations are + how exactly we assign worth to the relationships we have. correspondingly, i feel there might be more revolutionary potential + actual love in living like this is all there is (as opposed to superstitiously opting to defer to a conjectural, unknown future); if we chose to live as if that dash between birth + death was all there is, i’m persuaded we would make more authentic decisions, better use of our time + not kill as many people with our thoughts, words + actions.
for the music video, i asked tim nash to read “lunacy.” he’s someone who i consider to be a friend that i have yet to meet in person. host of the nottingham-based “nomad podcast” – where he has been a curator of hope for over a decade – tim is someone whose voice i hear on a weekly basis + who i have had the privilege of corresponding with over the past few years. if there’s anyone in the world who continues to quicken optimism in me that there’s still something to the christian narrative, it’s him – as well as “friend of nomad,” david blower – because of their resolve to stumble forward amidst darkness + to surmount disenchantment by seeking goodness wherever it may be found. needless to say, it was as much of an honour for me that tim read the story i wrote as it was for kester brewin to have recorded for me those two selections from his book “getting high.”
next time on the fringe faithful collective, the song “tributary” that is the last track on the album (which though painfully distressing communicates an openness to whatever is ahead). until then, here is the short story “lunacy” (read by tim nash), followed by the song “destroy the moon” (which you can freely download or stream anytime at soundcloud.com).
peace + love sisters + brothers.
“lunacy” by m. w. powell
those once named the “hereafterists” never quite intended to annihilate all of the Earth’s inhabitants when they furtively launched that final rocket into the night sky. having surreptitiously found a way to disrupt in unison all global tracking systems, the pioneers of their movement had only ever dreamed of catalyzing widespread panic. for if it could be incontrovertibly shown their religious assertions were legitimate – i.e. that certain seemingly “natural” disasters were a divine signal of impending doom – the underlying hope was that the number of fervent adherents would grow exponentially. however, a faction existed who were persuaded their foreparents’ vision was too myopic + they were not interested in merely creating a simulation. perhaps – it was assumed – if the world were to really experience the imminence of being completely undone, the All-maker would at last bring history to an end; for all they knew, it was their action that was the missing element required to inaugurate the long-awaited After Beyond. but they were wrong. and as the neo-nuclear missile reached its destination, the Voice spoke for the first + last time, saying: “there was never more than this.” the lunar detonation was total + its fragments were pulled into our atmosphere – altogether blocking out the sun with ash + continually showering the ground, rivers, lakes + seas with fiery rocks from what used to be the Moon.
DESTROY THE MOON
we were wrong – so sure about our assumptions
looking only to the after beyond
tore out our lungs – we scorched the earth for profit
less we breathe, sooner that we’re gone
fought, raced + won – sedated our fear of the senseless
with the notion that it won’t be long
over-drawn – the time we thought it would take
for the world to fully de-create
intolerant – of the people who mock us
who correctly say our leader’s late
counterfeit – fabricated destruction
forced the hand of super-natural fate
missile launch – splintered the sun’s reflector
killed the planet cause we couldn’t wait
we won’t be alright
it seems there was never more than this