We, human beings, afflicted by the degradations innate to late stage capitalism, are angst-ridden, depressed, checked-out, roiling with displaced rage, self-obsessed to the point of being bored blind by ourselves, and desperate for palliatives.
Thus, we are susceptible to the snake oil pitch of Big Pharma and Oprahesque self-help platitudes, cognitive therapy palliatives, New Age treacle and religious fundamentalist dogma.
Why are the citizens of the corporate/consumer state so desperate? We are gripped by empty appetites. We attempt to sate ourselves with consumer junk, both of material and media form, and instead we ourselves are consumed. Yet beneath the manic motion is a longing to experience a resonance borne of heart-felt purpose… to uncover the heart’s code and reveal that there exists a unique destiny we were born to.
Instead, we distract ourselves into psychical oblivion. We pursue the fool’s errand of careerist striving. We commit ecocide, attempting to elide our emptiness. We battle time, and we lose badly. The field of battle is littered with the vanity of fools.
Conversely, one’s fate arrives like a conquering army, under the stealth of darkness. One’s heart must remain vulnerable enough to be conquered by one’s destiny. Possessed by a brittle narcissism we fear surrender, and claim victory when we have managed to ward off the soul’s destiny by egoist strategies of hypervigilance, distraction, addiction and domination. By doing so, one only manages to torch the landscape of one’s heart and salt into sterility the loam of one’s soul.
Rilke proffers a far more propitious approach:
Exposed on the mountains of the heart.
See, how small there,
see: the last hamlet of words, and higher,
and yet so small, a last
homestead of feeling. Do you recognize it?
Exposed on the mountains of the heart. Rocky earth
under the hands. But something will
flower here; out of the mute abyss
flowers an unknowing herb in song.
But the knowing? Ah, that you who began to understand
and are silent now, exposed on the mountains of the heart.
Yet many an awareness still whole wanders there,
many a self-confident mountain animal
passes through and remains. And that great protected bird
circles about the peaks of pure denial. But
unprotected, here on the mountains of the heart.
– Rainer Maria Rilke ‘Exposed on the mountains of the heart’
If memory serves, it was Plato who averred that, at one time, all human beings were hermaphrodites by nature until the gods split us into opposites, thus causing the phenomenon of longing for and seeking one’s lost half. It follows, love is only possible when one possesses a sense of loss and incompleteness.
Cultivate your emptiness. When words and even gestures escape you, offer a prayer of gratitude into the beckoning silence. When you stammer when speaking, a god has inserted him/herself into the mortal structure of your sentence, and the weight of eternity has caused your utterance to collapse.
Image by Dan Booth. Not to be reproduced without permission.
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.