The Carnival of Consumerism and its Tawdry Trinkets

How sensation replaces experience in the Late Capitalist Empire

joker by Dan Booth

The consumer state/U.S. media complex is a tawdry carnival.

Its business entails separating wage/debt slaves from reality as well as from their meagre sums of money. The scams and unctuous patter of the Trickster State has been internalized by the Sucker Class. The mind of a consumer is a series of Fun House distortion mirrors, wherein both self-awareness and awareness of the reasons for one’s oppression are difficult to discern.

Bellies bulging from unhealthy, carnival food, suckers waddle down the glittering light-bedizened fairway. Sensation replaces experience; participation mystique is usurped by spectatorship. Meaning is shunted aside by the manic pursuit of electronic stimulation.An Illustration by Dan Booth

A carny barker political/media class bamboozles the credulous that what they are experiencing is freedom of choice as they gawk at sideshow attractions: See Donald The Astonishing, The Boy Born Without A Brain, Yet He Speaks; See Bernie, The Impossible – He Claims To Be A Socialist, Yet He Is An Imperialist. You won’t believe your own eyes.

What exists outside the carnival’s meretricious shimmer and empty cacophony? Ecocide. Perpetual wars of plunder. Rivers of blood. Mountains of bones. These are the reasons we refuse to shatter the distortion mirrors of the capitalist mind. Our grief and regret would seem unbearable, the echo of lamentation off the confines of our inner emptiness… endless.

Better that we console ourselves with comforting lies and turn back towards the beckoning lights of consumerism coruscating from the fairway/smartphone. Better to remain distracted then to weep into the illusion-devouring darkness.

Alternatively, accept that at this point of Late Capitalism i.e., a coming economic collapse… we must be prepared for a rough ride. Ask yourself: What am I willing to risk and sacrifice to end the capitalist/Western imperialist paradigm? It is not like we have a choice. The status quo cannot hold. There will come lamentation upon lamentation. Then:

My friend, blood shaking my heart
The awful daring of a moment’s surrender
Which an age of prudence can never retract
By this, and this only, we have existed

T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

I am not attempting to wax apocalyptic for mere effect. I do so out of a sense of torment and heartbreak. I am mortified that others cannot or will not hear the augury attendant to melting permafrost; the casuistry-shattering calculus of methane gas feedback loops… warming, acidic oceans and seas… a boon for jellyfish, a death knell for all we know and love.

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading – treading – till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through 

– ‘I felt a Funeral, in my Brain’, Emily Dickinson

At times, I feel as though I have been given the task of scattering the ashes of my best friend… thus the words of lament I cast into the currents of the internet. How can one make dispatches from material reduced to ashes? I reel in the shattering silence of their rage.

These words are a cloud of drifting, powdered ash – an elegiac aggregation – that once was my best companion, my beloved, my father, my mother, and so many that I have loved and drifted through the hours with in laughter, dispute, labour and idleness.

Please offer alms as they drift past.

Illustration by Dan Booth. Not to be reproduced without express permission.

Phil Rockstroh
About Phil Rockstroh 177 Articles
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.

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