The lonesome friends of science say
"The world will end most any day."
Well, if it does, then that's okay
'Cause I don't live here anyway
John Prine is one of the three greatest American songwriters of the past century. With Merle Haggard and Hank Williams, Prine sang (and still sings) about the world where most of us really live. He will be remembered long after the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Lady Gaga, and Elton John are forgotten.
And now John Prine has the coronavirus.
When I heard the news this morning, one of his lyrics immediately came to mind. "The lonesome friends of science say the world will end most any day."
And indeed, American life as we know it has ground to a halt. The world of easy credit, Caribbean cruises, and an ever-rising stock market has been swept away.
Without a doubt, the world where I made a living--the world of higher education--is fast sinking into oblivion. As the nation's unemployment rate rises, who will take out student loans to study transnational sexualities and queer theory at Mills College? Who still wants to borrow money to study sociology, anthropology, fine arts, art history, etc. Who even needs an MBA?
And if the world of American higher education comes to an end, that's okay with me. I never lived there anyway. I never understood academia's obsession with race and sexuality, its neurotic fixation on victimhood, or the mean-spirited arrogance that permeates our nation's most elite colleges.
In the years to come, most Americans are going to get a lot poorer, and many of us have figured out that a college degree or a graduate degree from an overrated university may not improve our life's trajectory.
So what should we do? Voltaire said we should cultivate our gardens, but John Prine expressed this sentiment better in the lyrics of Spanish Pipe Dream. Yes--let's blow up our televisions, throw away our newspapers, plant a little garden, and try to find Jesus on our own.
John Prine assures us we will be fine.