The 2012 Key West Literary Seminar starts tonight — it’s been sold out for months, sorry, but there are free sessions on Sunday afternoon.
This year’s theme is Yet Another World, which is kind of dystopia but that’s an oversimplification. What is it really? Watch this space and I’ll report back.
In the meantime, it’s got me thinking dystopically, or post-apocalyptically. Maybe it’s because we live in one of the places most vulnerable to hurricanes in the nation — and watched what happened to New Orleans. Maybe it’s The Walking Dead not to mention The Road and all the books written by the many fine writers who will be joining us this weekend. But I sometimes think about what I would do after the apocalypse. This is, of course, assuming I survive the apocalypse but hey, if I don’t then it’s not really my problem.
I use it as an excuse to hang onto our kayaks and canoe, even though they haven’t been out of the yard in years. It makes me feel a little self-satisfied about my few remaining practical skills, like knitting. I’ve operated a treadle (non-electric) sewing machine, too, though it’s been a couple decades. And I’ve always liked the idea of weaving.
So I decided my skill/niche would be knitting, and possibly making cloth. I have been hoarding yarn for about 15 years but that’s not all I’d knit. After the apocalypse, I would knit whatever I could and that’s the beauty of knitting. You can knit just about any damned thing. My friend Emalyn has a dress her mother knit out of cassette tape.
My husband, who has recently become a rum aficionado since spending time in the Caribbean, plans to distill booze. He thinks this will give him a lot of influence and bargaining power for other commodities. We have discussed the need for weapons (crossbows look good, based on The Walking Dead) to defend the booze and ourselves.
I like the idea of sloughing off all the artificial layers of stuff we accumulate, protect and worry about. I’m not just talking just about belongings — but also about intangibles like your 401(k), your social obligations, your job. After the apocalypse, who cares about your credit rating or what’s going to happen to windstorm insurance rates? And having a little extra meat on your bones could be an advantage. I have a strange attraction to the post-industrial agrarian visions like that at the end of “England, England” by Julian Barnes. This, even though I grew up in a rural area and am well aware that farming (especially without heavy machinery), animal husbandry, toting water and firewood, preserving food, making clothes, etc., is hard work. And how much harder will it be when you can’t run down to the Agway or Jo-Ann’s Fabrics for your supplies? But that’s the thing about the apocalypse. It’s not a voluntary dropping out, joining a commune, going back to the land. It’s a Big Change and if you survive it, you have to figure out how to cope.