in Fiona Maazel, Jerry Stahl, Jim Ruland, LATfob

I had a great weekend at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

As promised, and thanks in large part to the expert moderation skills of Jim Ruland, my panel, “The Post-Modern World,” had almost nothing to do with postmodernism and everything to do with the End of the World. Which, I should mention, is nigh. What seemed to me to be about two-hundred people showed up.

I have to say–with all our talk of death, Armageddon, nihilism, Camus, and the utter meaninglessness of our mindless voyage through the yawning dead expanse of deep space–it was all pretty grim and morbid and ominous.

And so much fun!

Our audience was laughing with us as Todd Hasak-Lowy, Fiona Maazel, Jerry Stahl, and I mused on the question of whether there was any reason whatsoever to have hope for the future of human life and civilization. The word “swine flu” came up more times than I could count, which almost unavoidably led to a question from one member of the audience inquiring: If only Jews and Muslims survive the pending Swinocalypse (my word, not the audience member’s) what might that mean about the future of humanity?

Jerry Stahl, deadpan, suggested that some kosher variation of the swine flu would strike down whoever thought they had escaped the first round of destruction. That struck me as exactly right.

The Pop Apocalypse is very nigh, folks. Buy your copy today, before it’s too late!