Because, at this time of the year, we take pleasure in being frightened, let’s shuffle through the US Empire’s House of Horrors.
On our tour, we cringe before: Brain-eating zombies of exponential destruction; soul-sucking vampires of eternal self-justification; right-wing, talk show demons whose wrathful voices rage into empty air; road-rage werewolves; hungry ghosts shuffling the aisles of supermarkets, convenience stores, corporate restaurant franchises and the food courts of shopping malls; and, running on a continuous video loop, The Fat, Mindless Blob That Ate the Planet.
The US mass media is rife with imagery of vampires, werewolves, zombies and other symbols of suppressed rage, insatiable craving and submerged terror. These narratives, resonate with the warnings implicit in nightmares, reveal the culture’s tormented soul. By foisting imagery so arresting that it cannot be ignored, nightmares break through the ego’s wall of denial; their disturbing imagery can be read as a wakeup call from the psyche that augurs warning and insists upon change.
On a cultural level, a profusion of nightmare imagery warns: paradigm shift or perish. Accordingly, the hack-scripted B-movie of the current political system could be titled: Duopoly Of The Dead: The Democratic/Republican Zombie Apocalypse. By their almost exclusive devotion to maintaining the status quo, these hulking, putrefying parties of the undead shamble through public life … risen from the mouldering grave to tear the flesh from the present and eat the brains of the living.
Neither party questions the zombie values of empire. Hence, in a soul-defying attempt to reanimate, by imperial might, the decomposing corpse of US power and influence, both parties are culpable for the senseless deaths of multitudes worldwide.
This zombie empire and its planet-decimating, neo-liberal death cult are marching toward the boneyard of history. What an empire contributes to the world is equivalent to the carnage an army of zombies inflicts upon the scenery of B-movies. Zombies (neither living nor dead creatures that create exponentially larger numbers of themselves) are an apt metaphor for the entropy inherent to closed systems — the exponentially destructive force of The Second Law of Thermodynamics.
That is why I’m not a member of either party extant in our current duopoly: I’m betting on the emergence of the Entropy Party. It is the only party with a plausible platform; the only party that will keep its promises.
The US Empire is dead meat. We should lose the imagery of a noble and lofty bald eagle: rotting road kill should be proclaimed our official national animal.
When I hear people respond to a request or brush off a small affront with the popular rejoinder, “no worries, ” I think, you have no worries, how is that even possible? Are they now selling nitrous oxide balloons at Starbucks?
Empire inflicts a warped and hyper-attenuated state of being upon its citizens: all the distortions of national character present in privileged grotesques and ordinary monsters.
The metaphor of monsters can be appropriated to illustrate selfish drives and unexamined impulses. Withal, a common trait of monsters is to take and destroy while giving back nothing in return. Accordingly, what do the big monsters of the corporate and political elite take from us — the little monsters? To name one: our time, the precious hours of our finite lives.
Corporatists are Time Vampires: For a moment, reflect on the time lost — languishing in office cubicles, in commuter traffic — or simply numbed-out and exhausted from the incessant, soul-sucking stress of the corporate state. The corporate state not only devours our time, but demands, as is the case with the charges of a vampire, one grow dependent and slavish in return. Afflicted by this bloodless state, one begins to lose the vitality gained from participation in the abiding resonances of human life.
Life in the US is becoming creepier and creepier. From the cuisine, mummified in preservatives, served to insatiable shades at an off-the-interstate Cracker Barrel Restaurant to the cracked-brain casuistry marshaled to preserve the mummified empire itself, Milton, Dante, and other chthonic travel writers who chronicled the empty rage, endless craving, and other deprivations of the human spirit evinced by the damned of the underworld might recognize the psychic terrain of the present hellscape. This stanza from Milton rises to mind:
Farewell, happy fields, Where joy forever dwells! Hail horrors! hail, Infernal World! and thou, profoundest Hell, Receive thy new possessor! One who brings A mind not to be changed by place or time. The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven
John Milton, Paradise Lost – Book I
The damned, as imagined by Dante, are creatures of grotesquely narrowed perception who are locked into endless feedback loops of obsessive, self-imprisoning thoughts and actions that the poet metaphorically limned as the circles of hell.
“In a consumer society there are inevitably two kinds of slaves: the prisoners of addiction and the prisoners of envy. — Ivan Illich
Part Two of this essay will appear on November 3rd.