That’s the term JRR Tolkien invented to describe a terrible event that ends well. The climax of Lord of the Rings (when Sauron falls, not the scouring of the shire or all the loose ends) is a eucatastrophe. Luke Skywalker blowing up the Death Star is a eucatastrophe — because while the weapon of mass destruction was itself destroyed, nearly every pilot in his sortie was killed, and the rebellion had to retreat before imperial reinforcements arrived.
Biden’s win — at this point indisputable — is a eucatastrophe. Four more years of Trump would have ruined this country, set back any progress made against climate change, and seen an even tighter grip by white supremacy on our nation.
I’m relieved Biden won. Not excited, just relieved.
And yet there’s been so much damage. That’s the catastrophe part of eucatastrophe.
A month ago, just as I was closing on my new house, I decided to take an extended break from social media. No Facebook or Twitter, and no Tumblr since before then. I recalled election day 2016. That night, and the day after, saw me at my lowest in years. What’s worse, the sanctimoniousness of timeline acquaintances and circular firing squads on social media drove me …
…I’m not going to discuss that in public. I’ve had enough of strangers and false friends picking at my mental health.
But I didn’t want that again, not this year, not after enduring pandemic lockdown, my family coming apart, and years of work getting myself back together.
Maybe that’s why I’m just simply relieved? I’ve made a point not to chase conspiracy theories about four-dimensional chess or bombard myself with ever-more cynical image memes.
So, the eucatastrophe. Tolkien didn’t believe in progress. He was a classical romantic, meaning the old days were better than now, and the future even grimmer — a “long defeat” that could never end well. The eucatastrophe was an aberration, a glimmer of hope among the decay.
Well, I don’t share that belief with Tolkien at least.