As Thomas Cole’s paintings vividly describe, Empires are destined to go through the inevitable cycle of rise and fall. Cole’s series consists of 5 stages. The savage state is the first which is the most natural state with an abundance of vegetation and very minimal human civilization. Following is the pastoral state which still contains a variety of nature but a lot more civilization. The third state, consummation is where humans have completely taken over nature and we can see an excess of almost everything from buildings to decorations and people; the only nature that we see is controlled and kept in a pot which symbolizes how humanity has gone too far in destroying nature by replacing it with man-made structures. The destruction state demonstrates the end of this excess in the consummation state where we are proven that empire does not last forever. We are given images of war, death, fire, and chaos. The final stage, desolation, is a depiction of nature coming back to life and bringing things back as they used to be. The pace in this picture is demonstrated by the moonlight over the calm water and the restoration of nature and basic life as revealed by the bird making its nest on what is left of the empire.
After receiving the news of who the next president of the United States will be, there have been various riots and protests against Donald Trump’s future presidency. These outbursts of chaos have clearly illustrated the direction we are headed in: The Destruction state. Just like in the destruction state, we see evidence of violence. The Washington Post describes how these protesters “threw glass bottles at the police” and the police was forced to answer by “deployed tear gas, flash grenades and rubber bullets. This could easily be seen as a small form of war, as depicted in the destruction state. Protesters held up signs saying things like “Nazi President” or “dump Trump”. These people are going out of their way destroying property with violence in order to illustrate their anger and frustration at our future president. Is our empire really coming to an end? Is Trump the cause of our own destruction? the evident end of our cycle? All of the signs are there.It is very easily seen that we have been in the consummation state all along and like all Empires, we must reach this part of our cycle.