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Art in the 2 Minute Era or: How I Learned to Make Art and Hate the Bomb

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Today the doomsday clock was set to 2 minutes till midnight.

Was the clock not already at 11:58? Has it not been at 11:58 for as long as I have been alive? It seems to me that I have been living in the dusk of two minutes to midnight for years now. It seems to me like I have had to peer past the encroaching gloom of twilight in order to get anything done.

“Hypothetically,” my aunt asked me a few weeks ago, “why would you come home to your parents and their basement when you had a job and opportunities lined up out there?”

“Because you want to die at home if you have the choice at all,” I answered.

I of course did not say it as directly then. Instead I took a twenty-minute detour through anger at capitalism, the falling futures of millennials, and the fundamental instability of our current time before I hit the core of it. If you could be guaranteed only two minutes, and anything beyond that is dubiously hypothetical, you might choose to retreat, to hide rather than bet your last two minutes on work that may or may not pay off. It’s a reasonable position to take.

And for those of us who have decided to keep creating, have decided to bet our last minutes on art, what can we say with our art that will make an impact in the two minutes before the bomb hits?

This is the peculiar paralysis of making art in the 2-minute era, at least for me. I know there is nothing I can create in this moment or do in this moment that will stop the bombs from falling if somebody decides that they should fall, except, of course, volunteering to have nuclear codes implanted in my heart and giving up my literal life blood to make those 2 minutes stretch into 5 or 6.

I am stuck, then, between looking backwards and looking forwards; between the desire to say “I told you so” and the desire to heal what grief I can in those last two minutes before things go; between the desire to make historical plays about our last 80 odd years in the shadow of the bomb – what one might call the 15-minute era – and between a desire to imagine paths forward into the morning beyond midnight.

I want to eulogize, to chronicle, to chart and to terraform all at once. I am simultaneously terrified of a past that is forgotten, and a future that fails to move forward. What I’m left with is creation paralysis, an inability to anything in the face of my overwhelming fear. I’ve wasted a million sets of last two minutes trying to grapple with my understanding of what it means to write a play about the bomb.

I haven’t come up with anything yet. I can only leave you with an assurance and a question.

Firstly, let me promise you that whatever what path I take forward everything I write, everything in my oeuvre, will be against the bomb. Even if uselessly beating against the bomb, or screaming into the void against the bomb, or putting up flimsy paper walls against the bomb, it will be against the bomb.

And secondly, let me ask, if you only had two minutes left what would you wish to say?

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