6:00 a.m. Like all great civilizations, this one begins in an agrarian phase. Assorted grains and toasted nuts in a bowl. Perhaps some dried fruit if the harvest has been kind. Milk on top. This is a dark and fumbling time. A time to assemble the accoutrements on which a great civilization will be founded. We must find the keys, to the car, and to the future. Basic hygiene is introduced at this point. Primitive barefoot nakedness evolves toward being clothed and shod.
7:22 a.m. We gather together. A sense of community, of group action: this is how a smattering of isolated cottages becomes a village, how a collection of villages becomes a society. We converge on the great artery of the interstate, rolling slowly toward a higher purpose. Our primitive brains, not yet awakened to our own potential, struggle for focus, for purpose. We put down the coffee and pick up the cell phone: a nexus in the transition from agriculture to industry.
8:00 a.m.-noon. The world has hosted many a great empire, and at their height, at the apex of their power and productivity, they have each and every one been magnificent to behold. Here at our temporal zenith, we are immersed in the whir of machinery, the flash of electrons, transglobal communication, and complex financial calculus impossible for one person to wholly grasp. Productivity! Division of labor! Promises made and promises kept. Global expansion intersecting personal growth. There is no problem that cannot be solved. There is no boundary that cannot be crossed. Expansion, consumption, consummation! This is a society in constant climax. This is Empire!
Noon-1:30 p.m. The tapestry of worldwide imported goods available at midday is a gourmet display of the success of a civilization. Abundance is not a sin, and it’s more than a perk: it is a badge of success. A just and welcome reward for the meteoric rise of the society. A civilization that does not learn to relax and enjoy the fruits of its labors will surely have a collective stroke, or, at the very least, acid reflux. A society that understands how to live a balanced life at the apex of its development will truly flourish.
Afternoon. The onset of its own decline has never been immediately obvious to a great society. Everything still seems to sparkle with success, the air seems fragrant with continued accomplishment. Historians, however, can retrospectively document the signs: (1) Reduced productivity compared to the pre-lunch era. (2) The increasing dominance of low culture, including sexual humor, and rising obsession with celebrity and the media. (3) Isolationism, marginalization. (4) Increased focus on bodily function. (5) Deterioration of public spaces. (6) Time anxiety juxtaposed with increasing inefficiency.
6:30 p.m. The condemned will feast in order to forget: a gratuitous orgasm of gluttony. The congealing of achievement and advancement in the grotesque mad greasing of animal appetites. Wanton waste. Spillage. Systemic pollution. Conscious, self-induced poisoning followed by lethargy, apathy, and flatulence.
8:00 p.m.-midnight. The final fall always seems to begin in an illicit, shameful garret of the mind. A place not of creative escape but of perverse retreat, obsessive wound licking. One martini; two, three hours of television, the content of which is forgotten even as it flickers past. Perhaps, if we are lucky, the darkness will catalyze a familiar sticky, mechanical grope for contact: the labored last gasp of a dying union. A sad, spastic, convulsing shadow of misremembered youth. And soon afterward, finally, mercifully: collapse, darkness, nothing. The Empire of Thursday settles into dust, soon only to be of interest to studious historians from civilizations of tomorrow.