Saying Sooth

ANDREI CODRESCU

January 18, 1993|By ANDREI CODRESCU

NEW ORLEANS. — New Orleans -- Awhile ago while the whole country was biting its nails in nervous anticipation of the elections I went to see a famous astrologer in New Mexico. This guy predicts the future in detail for movie stars and politicians and now and then for mortals like me it they have the cash.

Naturally, I asked him who was going to win the election. ''George Bush,'' he answered without hesitation. ''However,'' he whispered significantly, ''he won't live out his whole term. Dan Quayle will become president.'' I was so dismayed by this news that I barely heard the personal part of the reading which said, I think, that the stars were not too keen on my own affairs, either.

Convinced that both the country and I were in trouble, I immediately consulted a channeler for confirmation. The channeler was more cagey than the astrologer but the 10,000 year-old entity that spoke in a gravelly voice which sounded like it had just smoked 10,000 cigarettes, said essentially the same thing. George Bush will be re-elected.

History's gotten too fast for prophecy. It happens before you think about it. Neither psychics nor statistics-armed think-tankers predicted the collapse of communism, for instance. In fact, no one has even yet predicted the rise of fascism from the ruins of communism, which has already happened. Soothsaying's come to a bad pass if it can't even foresee what's already taken place.

Personally, this confirms my belief that what happens is precisely what is not predicted. On TV there are as many ads for fortune-tellers as there are for salad-shooters and veg-o-matics. The less predictable things are, the more people want to know the future. Perversely, the more mistaken the soothsayers, the more you hope for a strike. I'll make one sure bet though: This year, like the last, they will all be wrong.

Andrei Codrescu is editor of Exquisite Corpse.

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