Grappling with Phantoms: A Financial Cliff, a War on Christmas, and Other Dim Tidings of Political Disconnect
“All art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique. All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up.” – James Baldwin
Bright lights, fragrant spices and sprigs of evergreen are appropriated to induce one back into the eros of life. Otherwise, daylight-bereft, in the half-light between the land of the living and the domain of the shades of memory, one can become stranded in impersonal despair or toxic nostalgia.
Cultures, throughout human history, have believed the realms of the living and the realms of spirits are drawn near to each other during Fall and Early Winter. Modern humankind dismisses the notion, yet, within, we feel unease. Enter: the manic compensations of the consumer state—the compulsion to avoid reflection by constant motion and contrived bedazzlement —the proffering of kitsch rather than the bestowing of meaning.
Personally, I would not be the least bit offended by manger scenes in public spaces, if equal space would be allotted to other religious sects. For example, let’s say… naked, dancing, cavorting pagans enacting rituals involving the Winter Solstice.
I’m not troubled by the mythology of others. It would be propitious to our soul-starved, public space-bereft culture to possess vivid agoras offering eros and a glimpse of salvation. I would be inclined to engaged in more frequent shopping outings if such a social milieu was extant.
Somehow, shuffling around the mall, chewing on an over-sized Cinnabon, does not serve as a balm to my soul.
Enmeshed, as we are, in the meta-storyline of a nearly all-encompassing media hologram, whether spun by the mainstream media or when slogging through a psychologically miasmic swamp of FaceBook postings, tweets and text messages, it is become increasingly difficult to listen to silence… to allow one’s innate nature to rise from one’s vital center to the fore of one’s being.
Therefore, the criteria of the imagination becomes concretized. For example, in the insular, cracked brain cosmology of febrile, media fantasies, there exists something called a War on Christmas, fought, with Weapons of Mass Destruction supplied by Syria on the chimerical landscape of a Financial Cliff—a struggle being waged, exclusively, in the minds of those who believe in a phantasmal “Invisible Hand of the Free Market”—but who deny the decades of scrupulously gathered data and rigorously proofed evidence of global Climate Change.
To subject oneself to the dim, collective imaginings of the current day political and media culture is to navigate through realms of hackneyed fantasy—to make one’s way through storylines that are not only estranged from the daily exigencies of everyday life of the citizenry that they are tasked to serve, but are wholly removed from the rhythms and resonances of life on earth itself.
Throughout the ages, groups of elitists—generally self-serving—have dictated the criteria of the lives of the multitudes. One of the most potent means of maintaining power is to create the stories that dwell within the individual, as palpably present as any living thing, and often as deleterious as a parasite.
This is why it is imperative for an individual to create and tell his/her unique tale. History bears witness to the results of humankind’s collective refusal: a howling hellscape of war and economic exploitation.
If the dead in their graves could speak as a chorus, they would admonish the living: Resist. Create. Let no other living thing define how you live out your days.
Any nitwit can seek happiness, and, generally, does. But it requires a cultivated courage of the heart to create comedy and beauty out of the material of constant sorrow.
Do not shrink from the task of dwelling in the truth of your unique being and living your way into the attendant tales spun by your awakened heart. There exists no neutral ground in the realm of soul-making. To demure from your calling—to cede your own power to the forces of unreasonable power—is the stuff of tragedy.
First start with an honest awareness of the world that exists around you, and the factors that create the criteria that you exist in, day by day. Then, in ways large and small, work to subvert the present order. Engage in an activism of your choice i.e., political, artistic, and social. That should keep you busy for a while.
In reality, the “Financial Cliff” is the abyss that yawns before the human soul regarding late capitalism in general. To proceed forward, speed unchecked and common sense unheeded, into the present paradigm, the human race careens, closer and closer, toward the abyss engendered by perpetual war, exploitation, and ecocide.
Withal, there are austerity cuts that would prove propitious. For example, to cut off the parasites of the One Percent from the means to continue the carnage resultant from the crime spree known as so-called free market capitalism.
If there was such a thing as a Google Map of the soul, and if you were to perform a search for the term “free market,” its location would be revealed to be an array of shoddy structures, an architecture of nada e.g., payday loan outlets, jack shacks, Wall Street firms, meth labs and crack houses, K Street Lobby operations, pawn shops, Chick-Fil-A, Papa John’s Pizza and Cracker Barrel establishments… tottering on the precipice of a howling chasm… with a Climate Change-strengthened hurricane approaching.
We can use drastic austerity measures in the area of Greenhouse gases, media consolidation, Pentagon budgets, CEO salaries and bonuses, deforestation, overfishing of the world’s oceans, junk food production and the concomitant expansion of the hindquarters of American consumers.
Otherwise, nature introduces aeons-old austerity measures. Recently, Sandy dropped by the U.S. Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions for a little meet-and-greet. The conversation, between humankind and catastrophic natural phenomenon, tends to be a bit one-sided.
Accordingly, Sandy delivered a simple message: Continue on your present path and your trip’s itinerary will involve a very short excursion in the present direction and then a long, uncomfortable journey downward.
Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City.
Yet a bio amounts to dharma for dimwits: It defines a human being in the same manner and degree of veracity as a restaurant menu describes the various slabs of meat offered … commodified things that were once living beings.