It’s the Finish of Humanity. Perhaps It’s for the Greatest.
By Guido Morselli
In Guido Morselli’s eerie and fantastical 1977 novel, “Dissipatio H.G.,” a person discovers he has inexplicably survived the sudden disappearance of the human race. It’s powerful luck, provided that he’d deliberate to drown himself in a cave the very evening it occurred. As a substitute, the unnamed narrator emerges to seek out himself alive and alone on the planet, after an apocalyptic ambiguity he refers to as “the Occasion.” Descending from his distant village, he searches for survivors in Chrysopolis, a fictional mercantile metropolis. There he finds not individuals, however relatively “a style of eternity”: reminiscences, emboldened animals, flickering apparitions and plush, unfamiliar silences.
The final man is a neurotic mental, one other within the lengthy line of contemporary literature’s outsiders. A former journalist, he beforehand deserted Chrysopolis and its crass materialism for the solitude of a mountain retreat. (A vanishing, then, earlier than the vanishing.) Having grown used to his personal firm, he was already one thing of a crank. “I’m afraid of individuals,” he thinks, “as I’m of rats and mosquitoes, afraid of the nuisance and the hurt of which they’re untiring brokers.”
Complete isolation permits for an indulgent digressiveness. He rants about Descartes, human future, time’s linearity, Neoplatonism, financial idea, the concertos of Alban Berg. His pedantry is lower by acidic wit and compressed emotion. Manic and self-lacerating, fastidious, self-absorbed, his consciousness provides the novel its brooding momentum.
Recluse or not, he’s quickly in determined search of connection. He locations calls to Frankfurt, Brighton, Bologna and Paris (the electrical energy continues to be on, for now at the least); arranges mannequins in parked automobiles and swimming swimming pools; camps out expectantly at airports; and constructs a monument out of home equipment within the metropolis sq., the best way a castaway would possibly spell out a message with stones. Visions of his lifeless psychiatrist, Karpinsky, start to devour him. Satisfaction and melancholy prop up his rising delusions: “I’m the Successor. Humanity was, now I’m. Incarnation of the epilogue. End result of the generations.”
Beneath the philosophical welter, a brand new world glitters with prelapsarian strangeness: Gangs of plump cats raid administrative lobbies, chamois goats prance alongside practice tracks, ibexes graze lodge lawns. A type of one-man utopia appears doable. The phonies and strivers are gone. Town’s church buildings, banks and navy installations lay deserted, an index of empire’s smash. “The world has by no means been so alive as it’s since a sure breed of bipeds disappeared,” the final man thinks. Then, virtually giddily: “It’s by no means been so clear, so glowing, so good-humored.”
One hates to weigh Morselli down with the leaden garland of prescience. Name him perceptive, then. Writing towards the backdrop of Italy’s postwar financial increase, he noticed the disfigurements of runaway development coming. Whereas his countrymen gave in to the intoxication of televisions and sedans, Morselli apprehensive that they had misplaced “the reverential worry that huge, uncontaminated nature as soon as impressed.” The automated decadence of Chrysopolis — the Golden Metropolis, Zurich-like in its alpine industriousness — stands in for a planet which may be higher off with out its failed stewards.
Morselli completed “Dissipatio H.G.” within the spring of 1973, simply earlier than taking his personal life. (The e-book’s title supposedly comes from an historical textual content predicting the demise of our species, although Morselli’s late translator, Frederika Randall, believes this to be pure invention.) It had been rejected by publishers, sharing the destiny of a number of earlier efforts, although his novels could be printed posthumously to acclaim by Adelphi, the Milanese publishing home. Caustic, lonely and obsessive, the novel gives a richly speculative portrait of early Anthropocene resignation. “The market of markets will in the future be countryside,” the final man thinks. “With buttercups and chicory in flower.” His reduction is palpable — and at this late hour, certainly acquainted.