Tuesday, 1 January 2013

MCMLXXXVII or the dream sequence always rings twice

When one tries to parse the year 2013, it seems a bit unremarkable from the perspective of numerology—not a prime number and a reprieve from twelve years of red-letter repeating dates, 12.12.12, 08.08.08. It is no grand cycle within a cycle but counting conventions do make this year hark back to a yesteryear, 1987, the last time a year was expressed with four different numerals—which is a little weird when one thinks about it. What primers and refreshers took place back then and what nascent things happened all those years ago that became emergent and formative? Western hostages were taken in Lebanon and the Iran-Contra Affair Commission scrutinizes the prosecution of US foreign policy. The Unabomber is terrorizing America. U2 released the album Joshua Tree, and Michael Eisner and Jacques Chirac close the deal for the construction of Euro Disneyland. The Simpson characters first appeared as an animated short on the Tracey Ullman Show. A 19 year old West German pilot created an imaginary bridge to the East by landing his plane in Moscow’s Red Square.
Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government in the UK continues its reign and Ronald Reagan, from West Berlin, implores Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down that Wall.” The accords of the European Community, forerunner to the EU, were debated and codified. Michael Jackson records the album Bad. The laboratories at Los Alamos host the first conference on the topic of artificial intelligence and bionic life, and Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted in syndication. Free trade agreements were struck for North America and the first national Coming-Out day is celebrated in Washington, DC. Medicine first describes and diagnoses what is called chronic fatigue syndrome, and ater his death, mathematician Kurt Gödel publishes his ontological proof for the existence of God. The live drama of a little girl who fell down a well in Midland, Texas captivates audiences with its televised, point-for-point coverage (other iconic portrayals on TV included Max Headroom, the precursors to reality-shows like Unsolved Mysteries and Rescue 911 and the salad days of Remington Steel, Falcon Crest, Dallas, Moonlighting, Matlock, MacGuyver, Golden Girls, Designing Women and Pee-Wee’s Playhouse). The Black Monday stock market crash sends markets tumbling, just after the Dow reached the heights of 2500 points. A high speed rail network in France and Germany breaks records, and Romanian workers revolt against the regime of Ceauşescu. Windows version 2.0 is released, as is the first Final Fantasy computer game, and the US Food and Drug Administration approves the use of the anti-depressant Prozac. The world had to say goodbye to such luminaries as Liberace, Rita Hayworth, Fred Astaire, Lee Marvin, Maria von Trapp, Mary Astor and Danny Kaye. There are of course many other iconic moments of the year, which waxed and waned into fulfillment in the fullness that characterizes any year and successor events, and I am not sure how the retreat into all things retro, just beyond the easy grasp of recorded experience, resonates through to today. That year is not the template for this one, certainly, but we would be amiss to forget the past and not try to jostle up some clues, dreamy and distant, about where we are today and what the numbers might hold for us.