Submitted by Constantine Palaiologos
I was first introduced to the term “clown world” in early 2017. I had an acquaintance who loved to use the expression and he must have been quite happy with himself when in 2019 it became firmly entrenched in the lexicon of the online right. It felt so good in those days to have two simple, obvious words which could sum up our emotions so perfectly. Why bother with impotent rage when you could just sigh, shake your head, and exclaim “clown world” in response to the latest neoliberal monstrosity to stumble into your field of view? Then of course in early 2019 we saw a brief explosion of clown themed content and we knew that the clown mindset would soon be discarded as we moved on to another meme of the month. How fortunate then that a prophecy already existed to tell us what was to come next once clown world had run its fated course.
I laughed when I first read Piss Earth 2025 on The American Sun. Not that I doubted any of the predictions which were made in that brilliant piece; on the contrary I thought they were if anything not brutal enough. I laughed because the article was well written of course, yet I was also laughing because I was sure that it would all come to pass as it was written and because this was the response which I had conditioned myself to rely on. To laugh in the face of despair and depravity gave us power over ourselves; suddenly we weren’t the last frowning holdouts marching through the funhouse, we became Saint Lawrence telling our tormenters to get on with it and just let us grill. It was a seemingly infallible response to anything clown world could throw at us. It was the ultimate cope.
I say was because those days of laughter are now, evidently, gone for good. We may not be in a fully realized piss earth yet but to anyone with functional eyes it should be obvious that the transition is well underway. The cultural HRT is working its magic for all to see now. Of course we’re still joking, we’re still making irreverent memes and mocking the nonstop freak show that is the new America. Outwardly none of this has changed with the arrival of the new year. Under the surface though, most of us seem to be coming to the same sad revelation.
Many of us have long since fried our normal senses of humor with our appreciation for the endless bizarre in-jokes and absurdities which those anonymous workhorses of comedy churn out in our obscure circles online. We lost most of our interest in mainstream comedy and entertainment years ago, and generally, we don’t seem to be missing much. This is something else. I’m sure we all spent the day of the Capitol Hill chaos glued to our screens following each new development. I’m equally sure that most of us laughed with mischievous glee as we watched the bizarre men in wacky costumes and run-of-the-mill MAGA boomers scampering side by side through the hallowed halls of our holy temple of democracy (though of course we condemn all illegalities!) Yet as the day ended and the laughter faded we began to feel a new sort of quiet misery. In the week since the event which has already come to be regarded as a new 9/11 by boring liberals, I have seen a certain sentiment coming up repeatedly among right of center individuals. Our usual pastimes and hobbies can’t hold our attention anymore, normal conversations only annoy us, and not even that anonymously produced edgy content we used to so enjoy can make us laugh now. It all returns to that one simple realization: it’s just not funny anymore.
The feeling is completely natural in my opinion; we’ve just witnessed a momentous event in our political history and the backlash from the humiliated regime is just getting started. The rest of our “nothingburger” nation may be content to roll over and pretend it isn’t happening but we certainly won’t be. There’s an intense loneliness in realizing just how deep the apathy goes in the people around us. It can be miserable to finally discover that none of the people who taught you to lionize Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson ever really meant a word of it. Like never before in our lifetimes we’re seeing the truth of our America laid bare each day and, for the most part, it ain’t pretty. It isn’t all doom and gloom of course; we have much to be optimistic about in our futures and our spiritual peasants deciding to go on being spiritual peasants can’t change that any more than they can change anything else.
I did not write this to lament the absence of our old clown world attitude or to consider why this particular event should be such an emotional tipping point for so many of us. I certainly didn’t write this with any deep insights or solutions in mind; personally I believe all we can do is steel ourselves for a rough time ahead and take what happy moments we can find. Our best hope is that we shall ultimately look back on these difficult years and say something like “It was merry in the galley for we revelled now and then.” I don’t know that all of you are experiencing these mirthless thoughts and feelings but I know that I am and I know that I’m far from being alone in the experience. Perhaps I am wrong and we will all recover our strange senses of humor in the coming weeks or perhaps I am right and we are entering an exceptionally joyless time. Whatever our collective emotional state may be for the near future, I know that at heart our cause will continue to be guided by the grim stoicism of men who know that their backs are to the wall. Come clown world, piss earth, or any other horror, our defiance will remain undimmed even if the laughter is gone.