Everything was fiction, future and prediction
In his 2001 book Fooled By Randomness, academic Nassim Nicholas Taleb introduced an idea he called ‘Black Swan Theory‘. He hypothesised that there are events in human history that are so extreme that they complete alter our perception of the world after they’ve happened. His ideas are supposed to applied to be applied at a macro level, to things like the invention of the internet or the 911 attacks, but I believe a similar thing happens to the individual on a much more micro level.
Let me explain. Over a decade ago I sat in a hospital ward and watched my father pass away. For reasons I have explained before on the blog and podcast, I was alone, in charge of his medical care and basically a shit scared 20 year old. It was a personal Black Swan event that fundamentally changed me and the way I viewed the world. Questions about life or death that I had acknowledged existed but paid no mind to, now had to be dealt with. It forced me to accept my mortality and renounce the ignorance that is normally gifted to the young.
It’s this internal journey of change that I think Fourth Of July – and the majority of Sufjan’s Carrie & Lowell – sounds like. The grim loss of ignorance about how life will eventually end and that the journey – not the destination – is the most important part of life. About how to accept that as a truth, own it and not be scared of it, because as Sufjan so rightly repeats ‘We’re all gonna die’.