Over the course of one week, I sat in the same movie theater twice to view different major theatrical releases about the existence of multiverses. For those of you who may have missed Everything Everywhere All At Once or Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, the concept of "multiverse" is everywhere right now. All at once. Movie theaters, I believe, are portals for these kinds of excursions. A way to peer into other possible lives and events.
But if you are a comic book fan, you have probably been familiar with this concept for some time by now. Alternative earths or similar realities have been plumbed for decades to push along stagnant storylines or characters. Imagine another world in which everything was exactly the way it is right now, except there was no cilantro. What a wonderful place that would seem to be. At first glance. That's before you take into account that all that energy used for loving or hating cilantro was actually an important factor in keeping homicide rates down across the globe. People's attention turned to the habits of their roommates, and that can never lead to any good.
I often entertain myself with versions of other lives in other universes, most often when I have narrowly avoided some calamity or other. "On another plane of existence," I tell myself, "you just got splattered all over the front of that truck." It makes me feel as though I got away with something. On the flip side, I am certain that there dozens of parallel realities in which Donald Trump is in jail. Those would be the universes in which no one ever "discovered" reality TV. There's probably another world in which Florida and Texas never managed to wrest themselves from Spain's control, leaving the lower portion of the United States a nice smooth curve without any of those pendulous appendages.
And there all kinds of ways that a multiverse could be much, much worse than the one in which we are currently ensconced. Besides being run down by a lot more trucks, I could be living in a version of the United States where the clowns who overran the Capitol on January 6 were better organized, with plans beyond stealing stationary from Nancy Pelosi's desk. If any of these paramilitary groups were as clever as their web sites claim they are, that reality would be a harsh awakening.
Instead we live in a place and time in which we are more in love with the sound of our own voices than we are in substantive change. Even a brutish thug like Vlad "Bear Whisperer" Putin is only able to mount a limp attempt at world domination, one that has been put down by housewives with Molotov Cocktails and a Jewish comedian. Elections are won and lost with only a fraction of eligible voters casting ballots. Laws are passed, schools are closed, and people are dying while we continue to listen to impassioned rhetoric on cable news. What if all world leaders were as effective as the President of Ukraine?
Maybe he could do something about this cilantro deal.