🥳 What’s really ‘new’ about the New Year?

The Daily Reader

One of Chicago’s great journalists . . . a senior editor at In These Times . . . WVON radio show host . . . an occasional guest on my podcast. And . . . 

The author of a recent missive, posted on his Facebook page, that I’ve been telling everybody to read. 

It had to do with our allegiance to the myth that a fundamental difference occurs at midnight on December 31. As though an old thing ends and a new one begins—when, in fact, what follows is, more or less, a continuation that will go on until we, as a species, figure out a way to destroy the world. Which seems to be our overall plan.

Or, as Salim puts it in his essay . . .

“Just as we deceive our children with the fiction of Santa Claus, we deceive ourselves with the fiction that we are moving from something labeled 2022 into something labeled 2023. In fact, on the scale of falsehoods, I’d rate the deception about the sequential passage of time as even more grievous than the Santa Claus fable because it’s a myth backed-up by evidence so seemingly irrefutable, it cannot be doubted; by adults.

“At a certain time in their aging process, we gently inform our children that Santa is a myth. But we rarely get the message that our belief in the linearity of time is also a grand fiction. In fact, you’re probably asking right now, ‘what the hell is Salim talking about?’ Yes, I understand; we are so welded to the misbelief that life is traveling from the past into the future that it seems utterly obvious.

“But the notion that time passes’ in a linear pattern is clearly illusory because we can never arrive in the future or find a place to rest in the past; wherever we are, it is always NOW. However, by maintaining the fiction of time’s linear movement we forever cloud the radiant present with past regrets or future hopes.”

That line about the “radiant present” is so good, I wish I wrote it.

By the way, I knew all this. I just didn’t realize I knew it. At least, it was there for me to see, but my eyes were closed. And so I remained a prisoner to the linearity-of-time fable that’s sorta like believing the same crew of Daley and Rahm advisors who got Chicago into our financial mess are the people we should turn to get us out of that mess. Not to turn everyfreakingthing into Chicago politics. 

My point is . . .  I’ve been welded to the concept of New Year’s since my junior year of high school when I fretted because no one invited me to a New Year’s party. I realize what I’m about to say sorta misses the whole point, but . . . Can you imagine if I read Salim’s essay and then took a time machine back 50 years? I’d have a conversation like this . . .

Cool guy in cafeteria: Hey, loser, what did you do on New Year’s?

Me: Stayed at home and watched Kup’s Show . . .

Cool guy: What a loser!

Me: You don’t understand—you’re welded to a fraudulent construct. Plus, Kup’s guest was Sammy Davis Jr.

For the record, I spent December 31 and January 1 babysitting my granddaughter and watching Anchorman 2. A movie that gets better and better over time.

Anyway, Happy (though it’s not really new) New Year’s! If you must believe in myths, I suppose this one’s better than the Daley/Rahm one.

Peace and love, my friends . . .

Listen to The Ben Joravsky Show

What Ben's Reading

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🥪 The snack time you don’t want to miss 🥪

Issue of
Dec. 22, 2022 –
Jan. 11, 2023 
Vol. 52, No. 6

Download Issue (PDF)

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