Sitting here thinking about Terry Pratchett's Going Postal, and how the initial fantasy conceit of that book was a perfect example of taking an obvious joke and running with it until it's something dark and serious

That the abandoned Post Office is haunted by "dead letters"
Every letter sent but not delivered, you see, is like a tiny death

A little piece of "unfinished business"

An open loop in the emotional fabric of the universe

A broken promise, a missed opportunity, a lost glimpse of a world that might have been
In the grand scheme of things, one message undelivered is no big deal, something that can be cleared up a week later

But what about ten letters, a hundred, a thousand

What about when the central hub everyone was counting on to send their mail catastrophically shuts down
The description of how Moist von Lipwig walks through the huge, dusty piles and piles of decaying envelopes

At this point the Fall of the Post Office is ancient history in Ankh-Morpork, and yet he sees it as it was, the humble grandeur of it, the violence it took to shut it down
He grabs one random ancient letter off the stack and drops it off at the listed address on impulse

And the next day is confronted by an elderly man and woman who are finally getting married after 50 years, because her confession of love was lost in the mail
It's just one particularly dramatic example, but there's *so many letters* in the undelivered stacks

How many of them could've changed a life if they'd arrived on time

How great was the betrayal, to lie to all those people and take their words and throw them away
How different a place might this shitty corrupt city be today if 50 years ago all those intended messages had gotten through
Hearing the tiny scratchy voices of all the whispering ghosts, on matters great and small, noble and coarse, tender and cruel
"I wish to cancel my subscription to..."

"...pleased to inform you the position remains open..."

" beautiful, I sent you a picture. Wish you were..."

"...having considered your offer, am willing to drop..."

"...whatever I said doesn't matter anymore, please come home..."
The whispers of the unheard, their frustration, their rage, their grief, building up to a roar

A tornado of swirling sheafs of paper with the same psychic energy as the ghost of someone murdered, charged with the same collective sense of loss, screaming

It's one of those perfect moments that is both a ridiculous pun and something very painful and real

Of course, when he wrote it, it wasn't THAT real
Who'd have thought at this late date "snail mail" would be this relevant? (Even Going Postal is about the Post Office having been replaced by the fantasy telegraph, the clacks)

Who'd imagine huge piles of scattered envelopes on the post office floor happening in America today
I don't know what goes through Postmaster Louis DeJoy's mind when he goes to bed at night

But I hope the sheer physical weight of those bags and bags of mail all over the country hangs on him until it makes it hard to breathe
As Pratchett vividly describes, I hope some part of him understands the sacred trust the fraternity of couriers has held since time immemorial

How obscene it is to break the sacred trust one carries when you take someone's words and promise them "I'll make sure they get this"
And unlike the letters in the book we know what a huge percentage of the mail DeJoy has ordered "held" must say

Because his order to hold that mail was a conscious decision to silence those voices, to kill those messages and stop them getting through

Not negligence but murder
If a letter undelivered is a little death, a tiny gasp of unfinished business, then a vote uncast is that twice over

And the ghost of those dead letters is a ghost of a better world that could have been if that sacred trust had been upheld, if those voices had been heard
In Pratchett's goofy po-mo universe every little subculture, every random profession and avocation and fandom gets its own religion, its own gods and its own afterlife

Every postman hopes their soul arrives at its destination signed, sealed, delivered
Louis DeJoy might want to check on whether his own soul has sufficient postage and insurance

Because there's a high chance that when he passes on, karma loses him in the back of the truck, and writes him off as "Lost and Undeliverable"

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More from @arthur_affect

4 Nov
The idea that the Republican candidate winning the White House in 2016 was some kind of struck-by-lightning impossibility is exactly the kind of infuriating hubris that got us here and that has me so pissed off today
It actually makes me very, very angry in hindsight that that's how people felt going into 2016

"How were we supposed to know the Republicans might win the election?"

Well there's two fucking parties so usually start with a 50/50 chance as your baseline
Maybe you could look at, you know, all of history and see that the White House flipping to the other party every eight years is how it normally works and the times it didn't do that are big notable exceptions
Read 4 tweets
4 Nov
That whole fight I got in over the firebombing of Dresden -

Look, leave aside whether you think it was justified for the Allies to do it

On the Axis side of the story, it really does feel like once fascism built up its momentum it could only stop by running into a wall
When I say "Maybe Dresden was necessary" it's not because I hate Germans or think their evil was an attainder of blood

Hell, the German "national spirit" was in some ways actually healthier back then than America is now
It's just, we are on this runaway train and I don't see us stopping without hitting something

COVID-19 in theory should've been that wall but it wasn't enough

300,000 is a small enough number that the MAGAs can still pretend it isn't happening if it's not happening to them
Read 5 tweets
3 Nov
Fascists are not competent and the belief that they are competent is itself part of fascist ideology

It is the nature of fascist ideology and how it defines "competence" that, in fact, *ensures* they cannot be competent
The goal of trying to objectively measure competence and put truly competent people in charge of the things they're competent at is called "technocracy", and Nazis fucking despise it

Opposition to technocracy is central to populism and therefore fascism (populism's worst form)
The loose collection of shitty memes that make up this thing we call fascism orbit this gravitational center of "normal people" and "common sense"

The core of the fascist aesthetic is this idea of good, decent, ordinary Americans/Germans/whatever throwing out "elites"
Read 25 tweets
3 Nov
There is absolutely no reason to believe that the process that led to 280k dead so far will slow AT ALL as winter sets in and in fact every reason to believe it will keep on accelerating

Regardless of what happens on Election Day, nothing about this can change until January
It's so bad that even Deborah Birx, who's spent this whole pandemic being as much of a self-preserving job-protecting coward as she possibly can, lost it and started yelling at her bosses about how deadly the next wave is gonna be

Probably falling on her sword uselessly
It's this kind of thing that justifies my lifelong kneejerk emotional dislike of "optimism"

One reason it's gotten so bad is people are so fucking eager to believe we've "turned a corner" and "it must be over by now"
Read 4 tweets
31 Oct
Okay so here's the thing about "good bones"

It doesn't matter if the house has good bones as long as they're hidden under the layers and layers of rotting flesh

The realtor's promise is a lie because to pull off a reno like that you have to rip literally everything out
And they know you won't do that

Tear down the moldy drywall, tear up the rotting floorboards, strip everything down to bare wood and brick and build anew only on what is structurally sound

It's too hard, it's too expensive, you'd have nowhere to live in the meantime
It'd almost be easier to just burn all of it down and build a new house

Everyone tells themselves they'll fix up the fixer-upper but it's a sucker bet, a money pit, a losing investment throwing good money after bad
Read 16 tweets
31 Oct
Wow, this is... a pretty bad idea for a sitcom
I hate being the annoying realism guy but pitches like this always remind me of the meta Seinfeld joke where he tries to make a show about having a guy sentenced to be his butler after getting in a car accident with him
Japanese TV executive: "And is this punishment... customary, in your society?"

George: "No! That's the whole source of the humor!"
Read 5 tweets

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