Part Two of Phil Rockstroh’s Empire’s Hallowe’en.
“In a consumer society there are inevitably two kinds of slaves: the prisoners of addiction and the prisoners of envy. — Ivan Illich
In contrast, we, the living, are beckoned to exist in a world of dappled light, and myriad shades of color, of a million gradations and combinations of sight and sound … It is complex, nuanced, multi-faceted, haunted by many gods ….
It is anything but monomaniacal and one-sided. That is why the reductionist, materialistic obsessions of the corporate/consumer state drive its adherents flapping bat-wing crazy (like Dante‘s description of Satan, in the innermost, frozen circle of the Inferno).
The neoliberal corporate paradigm is based on the fallacy of exponential growth. In cybernetic theory, this is akin to “systemic runaway” i.e., analogous to a runaway steam locomotive, careening, at an exponentially faster rate of speed down the tracks because its governor function is stuck. Empire is a monster of systemic runaway; its collective mind doesn’t contain an operable governor’s function (that also could be termed the stuck-on-stupid override switch).
In a similar manner, a vampire is seized by a singular hunger for blood and a zombie for living flesh, our context-narrowed, consumer consciousness allows too many of the US populace to deny, diminish, or remain toxically innocent of the whole of contemporary scientific evidence regarding the gargantuan rampage of environmental destruction we have inflicted on our planet.
This monster-sized denial allows us to collectively knock aside the verities of exponential mathematics, chaos, cybernetic and systems theory, and oceanographic and meteorological science like Godzilla knocks over the architecture of downtown Tokyo.
Ruthlessness, exploitation and insatiable craving define the corporate/consumer vampire’s mode of being: When we dream of only money to purchase disposable things, the collective mind of the corporate state dreams we are disposable as well. Ernest Becker counseled: “Once you base your whole life striving on a desperate lie, and try to implement that lie, you instrument your own undoing.”
Conquest and murder abroad, anomie at home: This is the way empires bring themselves down. Sadly, anyone and anything it meets on its way down stands a good chance of coming down with it.
A monstrous emptiness gnaws at the core of the US empire; this emptiness is the progenitor of its destructive nature. Its rapacious, insatiable appetite devours all in its path: coastal wetlands, Arctic glaciers, the lives of the people of occupied lands, the hours of an individual’s life, as well as one’s hopes and longings.
“The destruction of the world is the last, almost desperate attempt to save myself from being crushed by it.”
Although tacitly, the monster confronts us with this imperative: the hour has come round where we must face the abyss. In doings so, one will see one’s image framed in the void. Inevitably, empires will stand at the edge of the abyss, yet its leaders and ordinary citizens alike refuse to gaze into the howling darkness.
Mark Twain had this to say on the subject: “Man cannot tell the whole truth about himself, even if convinced that what he wrote would never be seen by others. I have personally satisfied myself of that and have got others to test it also. You cannot lay bare your private soul and look at it. You are too much ashamed of yourself. It is too disgusting.”
It has long been apparent: Those benefiting from the present system have become so ruthlessly driven that they have become bereft of the ability to reflect on their own actions. Apropos, we’ve witnessed the rise of the telegenic undead known as the corporate media. Do not look to these aggregations of preening narcissists to report the truth of our condition: After all, a mirror cannot reflect the image of a vampire.
A vampire is empty to the core; therefore, there is nothing to reflect. Regarding this contemporary class of vampiric careerists who haunt the electronic mass media, there is no one there beneath the coiffure of immaculate hair.
In an era as fraught with peril as ours, it is imperative we act with mindful urgency. Yet, we, to our detriment, have been conditioned to ignore the up-welling of our inner visions and instead allow ourselves to be drawn by mass media nixies into a holographic sea of electronic imagery … We stare at our glowing appliances while exquisite things are extinguished, forever … mistaking configurations of pixels for the breath and brilliance of the world.
Instead, we might scan the waters of the abyss for the gliding form of a black swan.
“True sanity entails, in one way or another, the dissolution of the normal ego, that false self competently adjusted to our alienated social reality: […] and through the death a rebirth, […] the ego now being the servant of the divine, no longer its betrayer.” – R. D. Laing (excerpt from The Politics of Experience)
How does one begin to reclaim one’s soul from the usurpers of one’s true self? Start with this: Embrace an exuberant fatalism in regard to the dark side of human nature — the very essence of the forgotten symbolism of Halloween.
Of course, this world can never be made perfect … How dull would that be? No errors committed to tease wisdom out of obdurate will. But change only comes through renunciation of the old order, and a commitment to walking into the yawning breach of the unknown. The mapmakers of antiquity stated the principle with the concision of poetry when they scribed on the edges of their maps indicating the demarcation point of the known world: “Beyond this place there be dragons.”
To transform the situation: drag the deceptions that allow one to rationalize one’s place in this house of horrors into the sunlight where they will burn to ash. Only by apprehending the monster within does an individual stand the chance of holding on to his humanity. A confrontation with the monstrous compels one to face mortality and human limits. This is why Gothic, even B-movie, metaphors are not an overwrought description of our present condition.
As a late friend of mine use to quip when folks were waxing grim, “It is always darkest, right before it goes completely black.”
And as Henry Miller counseled: “There is no salvation in becoming adapted to a world which is crazy.”
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.