Maybe by the time you read this, we’ll all be underwater. Maybe the capital-‘f’ Floods will have come and New Jersey will be no more than a legend future generations will stand on the Pennsylvania border and tell their children: “There used to be a state here. It was called New Jersey. Fulla assholes.”
Maybe that will come to pass. The point is, I don’t know.
As I write this, it’s Sunday afternoon, Oct. 28. I’m at home, reading over the pages of the issue that—unless the printing press is carried off in the rising waters of the mighty Passaic—you’re now holding. It has not yet started to rain, but the air is cool and the winds are beginning to pick up. It’s foreboding, but right now, no more than that.
I’ve watched for half a week as the panic for the storm that hasn’t yet arrived began to mount. All the “frankenstorm” whathaveyou, the Hurricane Sandy stuff, with memories of what Irene did last August and what that freak snowstorm did last Halloween. The media has been on the story, to say the least. It’s even the lead headline on the BBC! I know it’s Sunday and that’s not traditionally a big news day, but still. That’s a pretty prominent spot for a weather forecast.
But like I said, for all I’ve seen and heard, I still have no idea what’s actually coming. How do you separate storm from hype? We had the hurricane last year, and this isn’t a hurricane, but still, I watched yesterday in Denville as they handed out sandbags in the center of town, and today in Little Falls they were doing the same thing at the recreation center near Aquarian HQ. States of emergency have been declared, the trees outside my window are bending, and I have no problem believing it’s going to be a lot of rain, but where do I draw the line between that and the apocalyptic visions presented by the media that have been flooding the public consciousness for the last five days?
Through thinking about this storm, and particularly about the coverage it’s gotten, has led me back to a realization about the nature of truth I’ve had concerning discourse and the presidential election. Namely, that there isn’t a truth, only subjectivity and the fear of the unknown. Where someone might picture objective, universal truth cast in gold or iron or some other unbreakable material, there’s actually piles of flaky subjective ideas, varied in their motives and villainies and relations to fact, but no closer to truth than wereweather or frankenstorms or the global warming that is—or isn’t—staring you right in the face.
This storm, when it hits, will have been no more of a truth than the partisan government response to it, the failure or the success of the states involved to respond to the needs of constituents. And that too will vary depending on whose side you’re on. Even the wind has spin.
If you think that’s a cheerless thought, keep in mind that it can’t actually be true, that there is no truth—least of all in print—and that any subjective statement by me or anyone else is just the result of that person’s life experiences and ultimately more a manifestation of their point of view than any universal truth. By its very nature, it can’t be fact for everyone, and I harbor no delusion that it would be. I’m just a sad man who thinks sad thoughts.
I have nothing to add to the sense of panic. If you have insurance and wind up in a situation this week where you need to call upon it, I hope they don’t try to screw you.