Yeah. It was the Europeans. They developed the technology to redistribute matter across space around 70 years ago. I guess there are discrepancies in the exact timelines, probably because more than one scientist in more than one country thinks he's the genius responsible for everything. That, and the attempt to keep the discovery a ferociously guarded secret; pretty successful for about 9 hours before some Italian fool let the cat out of the bag. Whatever or whoever got relocated wasn't just there instantaneously, so you can't really call it teleporting. Or at least not in the sense that we would have imagined in the twentieth or twenty-first century. But the ability to disperse an intact 512 cubic feet of matter across 1.6 light years in about 4 minutes was certainly more efficient than strapping down into a spaceship the size of a mattress and lumbering about the solar system at whatever rate of velocity fossil fuels would allow.
At first the technology was mostly used for more convenient international travel, while we still had our collective geopolitical head stuck up our 5.1*108k ^2 ass. But eventually people began taking interest in alternative atmospheres and gravities and planetary environments. And when there were finally acknowledgements made by certain indignant, antagonistic, and problematic governmental hierarchies that no current nation or allegiance of nations was wealthy enough or technologically knowledgeable enough to independently colonize the Milky Way, large campaigns were started to do just that. Treaties were signed, hands were shaken, babies were kissed, heroin was injected, confetti was tossed (yep, still around) and we were left with a renewal of manifest destiny. "The earth needs some time to become itself again anyway!" they said. "Give it some odd millions of years or so to redevelop its climate and mineral resources, then maybe we can love the damned thing again. But now, it's become more trouble than it's worth. So much filth and so little space...but Jupiter on the other hand! You talk about the last frontier! Why wait!"
As the Earthlings were gathering their mass exodus to other, more efficient parts of our galactic cytoplasm, there were questions raised about the Earth. Surely, someone needed to stay. What if visitors came while we were away? We would lose face as a species if we had nobody present to represent our original homeland, to give tours and explanations to any curious and exploratory extra-terrestrial race. Or what if one of us forgot something down there and we needed someone to disperse it over to us? Who will bell the cat? Who should be weighed with the inconvenient burden of staying in such a place? Worldwide campaigns were started, ludicrous incentives and rewards were offered in attempt to find any human being willing to stay on Earth. One morning I walked calmly into the headquarters of the Confederacy of Interplanetary Communications and Transit with half a cup of coffee in my left hand and a slight scrunch in my eyebrows and slowly explained to them that I rather enjoy Earth, and would be perfectly willing to stay. And no, please, don't bother about the intense amount of Milky Way credits or the free prostitution services or any of that, just give me what I need to sustain my own life and I'll take care of the place while you're away. And so with a temporary and quickly concealed look of amazement that was negotiated down to a suppressed level of gratitude and a slightly over-exuberant handshake, everyone on Earth left the next morning.
The first couple weeks I just stayed in my room. I spent a lot of time on the internet, practiced chess strategies, killed a lot of time. Eventually I ran out of food, ran out of internet to peruse, so I wandered outside. I started roaming around for a while, trying to read some books recommended to me ages ago, picking up new instruments, I even almost tried to start a garden once. I just didn't feel motivated towards hobbies anymore. I felt awkward.
I kinda floated around in the Indian Ocean for a while, wondering if I could find someone who wanted to play cards. I mean, as far as I know there was someone else in the world who liked this planet as much as I do. Someone who, given the choice would choose to stay. So far it's been four years, sixty-seven countries, quite a few microwave dinners and writing manuscripts and sleep-in weekends and I still haven't found anybody yet. I mean, I guess there were always the gorillas to talk to, who had developed elaborate, functional capacities for human speech over the past 40 years. But most of them only spoke Portuguese, and all of them only ever wanted to talk about Radiohead. I would usually rather avoid them.
I tapered West for a while until I hit Cairo and used the international station to disperse myself over to the station in Frankfurt. Frankfurt was the last station on Earth the Galactic Communications and Transit System bothered to keep interplanatary. I left them two letters for whoever and whenever the next one sent back with the task of checking up on the Earth finally arrived. The first letter was addressed to Marianne. It read:
I can't believe you knew I'd stay distant.
The second was addressed generally, which is to say, not at all:
Gentlemen. Are you listening? We do not have very much to discuss. We all wake up each and every day and must accept the consequences of being ourselves. I for one, have accepted myself, and my love of this place. But it hurts, and it hurts more than just a little, to know that in this place I am alone.
In another time, are you listening? In another time my decisions might have hurt more. At a time when lovers were rejecting me, friends were disconnecting from me in spite of my efforts to keep them, family and coworkers that were proud of me, counting on me. There were dinner parties planned, tables set waiting for warmth. Christmas lights to be strung, bands to be formed, home improvement projects, a million different puzzles - all of which I served as at least one piece. A departure at that point would have indulged me in some of my most vain, sick fantasies. Screaming angels and paralyzed poets, suffocated children and disturbed animals, crying out from a stab wound, sickeningly injured by the cruelest of thievery of the most important and fragile of things to be taken.
But no. No, it's a fantasy impossible. For I have blinked. And the world has blinked. And we open our eyes to find each other alone. We are late, we have waited for too long. Anyone else to be considered has graduated beyond our reach of pain. We cannot touch them anymore, they will not miss what they have allowed themselves to forget. It has cost us some pain of our own. But pain is all we got, gentlemen. Gentlemen, are you listening?
I have spent much time, between talking to the people that once co-habitated this place with us and, since they have left, speaking downwards into the well, asking "Are you listening? Are you really, truly listening or are you waiting for your turn to speak?" My finding is obvious, and self-contained, painful to realize. There really is nothing more important. Than to simply know. That someone's listening. But now I know. You'll be listening.
I dropped both letters in old-fashioned plain white envelopes on the table in the lobby of the station. I hit the lights and closed the door on my way out. I sank my sandals into the German snow and gazed at a low, low sun.
The world was mine.
Impossible Germany is a song by Wilco originally appearing on 2007's Sky Blue Sky release on the Nonesuch label. It also appears on Sky Blue Sky's accompanying documentary/performance DVD Shake it Off, and on the concert film/documentary Ashes of American Flags. It's generally regarded as a staple of Wilco's repertoire, a common song to hear at Wilco concerts, and probably both the most performed and most popular song from Sky Blue Sky. Spoke songwriter Jeff Tweedy of the song in Shake it Off:
"So I've had a poem...based around those words for a while. I think originally when I wrote the poem, I was kind of hinting around the idea of...where does it cease to be impossible when you...think about what a country or a place can become. Or when does it stop being something unbelievable and something that you act upon to try and change. When you realize within yourself that there's something that you really need to fix. Basically, when do you wake up from denial."
So Tweedy himself describes the song as mostly introverted, existential, and more philosophical than emotional and interpersonal. But the running theme in the quasi chorus and the idea of listening leaves something more to ponder than the awakening from denial. The last lines of the song give a dark and morose impression, also with a subtle sense of threatening that goes unresolved. It might be concluded that these lines imply the narrator's intentions of quiet, subtle vengeance through self-abuse. Perhaps such abuse is emotional, or maybe even physical, implying suicide as an ironic and counter intuitive means to be understood.
Some might argue that this interpretation is extraneous.