Glacier Bay, Alaska, 2018

First proper thunderstorm of the season in New York City. A crack of thunder rattled the windows and its violence reminded me of a cruise with the in-laws a few years ago, back when cruises were foolish but not suicidal. We were on a ship heading towards Alaska with extended family from Taiwan, Florida, California, and all points between, a rare reunion to celebrate an uncle’s golden wedding anniversary.

Hunks of ice drifted past the ship. Green cliffs rose into the mist. A woman yawned and said she was going back to the casino. That’s when I understood why people jump from cruise ships. When there’s nowhere to go except spaces for pleasure-seeking, spiritual decay begins to take root.

C. and I wandered the ship until we found a vacant lounge that played haunted ballroom music between bingo sessions. We made a list of the things we wanted to do in the future, grand plans for public art projects that now seem ludicrous in these days of social distancing.

I often dream about the north. The sea and bright wind, the promise of some final reckoning with white lights and everything swept clean.

And I remember the sound of white thunder, that bone-shuddering crack as another piece of a glacier fell into the sea. Most of all, I remember the sound of so many voices cheering and our cameras clicking, as if we were applauding the result of our terrible way of life.

Gas – Zauberberg

Zauberberg | Kompakt, 1997 | Bandcamp

Perfect glacier music from Wolfgang Voigt’s exercise in the techno sublime.

Each night in 2020, I wrote a short post for a series called Notes From the End of a World because I wanted to etch these days into my memory. Before the world changed completely.
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