Chris Petit, The Last Things

One wonders. One wonders what? One wonders what life. One wonders what life was. One wonders what life was like. In the days before. In the days before it became reduced to this unimaginative space. A space contrived to counter imagination’s riot. Reductive space. Humbled space. Hubris’s comeuppance but also its opposite: survival space. For the chosen. For the self-elected. Continuity, however slim. How will people behave down there? In a parody of civilised behaviour, pretending there is a future, pretending for the future, pretending the future is worth carrying on for? What will they do? What will they say? Will they watch DVDs? Will they read? Is there a DVD library? Who chose the DVDs? Blockbuster? Dr Strangelove? Do they wear suits down there? What is the ratio of elite to drones? On what principle was everyone selected? Cheerful disposition or practical application, honours, genetics, privilege? Is there a list, in the here and now, which says who these people are, and how many know they’re on it, and can it be leaked, please? And after disaster happens, do these survivors count themselves lucky or are they simply fearful of the prospect of death deferred? Is counselling available? Alternative therapy? Is Eileen Drewery down there with the Archbishop on Canterbury? Will it be as big a balls-up as a Millennium Dome party? Do people cry? Does this building have a prior sexual history: stray couplings between third-world cleaning staff and security-guard wanks, courtesy of Knave magazine? What did happen that’s so bad? Are people still up there on the outside? Can those down there see out? Are they plugged into the CCTV grid? Can they see the emptiness remaining? Can they get broadband down there (so they could Google themselves, remind themselves of the people they used to be). Do they hold meetings down there, make broadcasts; in hope of what? That someone is still watching? How many believe in a life after this afterlife? Was it natural disaster that drove them down? Or a spectacular own goal? Or those pesky WMD come home to roost?

The Last Things

Photographer David Moore and curator Angela Weight in conversation about The Last Things on 21 August 2008. Podcast recorded and edited by Stephen Hull.

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