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Offbeat 08 December 2016

Being dead and smelling like blue cheese or a rotten potato is a bit passé. Nowadays, brain death comes with a mobile phone, the right to vote and the angry sense of wanting everything without having to work for it.

David Bowie is dead. Prince is dead. Alan Rickman, better known as Snape, is dead. Kenny Baker, the guy who played R2D2, is dead. None of these people really matter to me. Media ensures their continuity.

If I think of anyone who should have left deeper tracks, it was probably Sharon Jones who sang with the Dap Kings. Goodbye Sharon Jones. I wish there was more to be heard of you.

From a media perspective, 2016 has sucked even harder than one of those holes in a jetliner that feature so heavily in thrillers and computer games. That’s just the media.

The rest of everything seems to be going down the tubes as well. Politics seems to have taken a look at the complexity of ethics, as well as the peace that is brought about by the stultifying nuances of international relations, and opted to cut to the chase by lobotomizing the intellect. You don’t need to think about ethics when you have racism and sexism on the side. As far as diplomacy goes, all you will need is a rubber glove and hand sanitizer in case the person you are shaking hands with grabbed an STD along with whatever other thing he was grabbing.

And still the rain won’t come. The pathetic clouds hover like uncertain sheep, dispensing the occasional droplet, but nothing substantial enough to bring happiness. The heat however, stays like a shepherd on steroids, flexing its muscle to show us who is the boss.

The phenomenon of 2016 on social media has had the feel of world-weary commonality, sort of like the idea that the apocalypse will be less difficult because we will all die at the same time, which is probably OK then.

By this time of year, I am usually able to summon up some residual energy for the last push on the big jobs, and the light grind through to January. This year, I don’t have it. I really feel I need leave, or at least the apocalypse to settle everything down.

I hope it won’t be the zombie apocalypse. Being dead and smelling like blue cheese or a rotten potato is a bit passé. Nowadays, brain death comes with a mobile phone, the right to vote and the angry sense of wanting everything without having to work for it. I also estimate that zombies can spell better than the average human being.

Perhaps a shooting star would be useful. The last big cataclysmic event involving a meteor or comet, or whatever it was, the one that put an end to the dinosaurs, seems to have been a lot quicker than the slow death of species and ecospheres that we are now experiencing.

If the apocalypse does come, I hope it is a flood, similar to the one that got Noah organizing deckchairs and cruise activities for the animals. The rain has been scarce enough, and my soul feels like spiritual biltong. I will stay in bed and sleep.

In a past incarnation, I used to update news on a website three times a day, weekdays. The cataclysms and misery became something that faded into the background. Each event was just a part of the job. Now that I have my head back, I pick and choose between the things that affect me personally.

The phenomenon of the 2016 meta-meme, the assemblage of all the component memes that made the year ugly, are an echo chamber that has left me with very little in the way of ability to cope with the toxicity that affects me directly. I have had to absorb poison, incompetence, laziness, myopia, people who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, armed home invasions on my street and the fact that my intellectual refuge, the wall outside the pub where I used to sit and ruminate, is now decorated with spikes.

For the first time in my life, I feel that I need leave.

The cumulative effect of the year is obscuring all the good things that it has contained. There are people who have been great to work with, the cool presence of winter, a few moments of good adrenalin on jobs that have been important to me, and a return to writing, which is more fun than watching a pack of baboons on acid.

I need leave now so that I can understand how to enjoy life again and put 2016 behind me.

About The Author

Pierre Maré

Pierre Maré is a multi-awarded Namibian advertising strategist and copy writer. From 2004 to 2016 he wrote a weekly tongue-in-cheek column for the Namibia Economist, eventually amassing an impressive 590 articles over the almost 12-year period. This series of Offbeat is a digital rerun of his pieces that received the highest reader acclaim. - Ed.