"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. — T.S. Eliot
The vehemence of the imagination motivates. It rages against oppression, as it, in equal measure, both protects and frees one's heart. It creates and endures. The heart, the alpha and omega point of the imagination, rebels against sensible centrism as it serves to transform demons of conformity into recalcitrant angels who are the sworn enemies of mindless power.
the imagination motivates. It rages against oppression
Moreover, the implications of this predicament extend far beyond the essential struggle for individual selfhood, for this situation is interwoven with a larger struggle for the survival of our species–a crisis that is rapidly reaching the ecological tipping point.
How we negotiate this perilous landscape will not depend on an ability to adapt to the prevailing madness of the present order. To the contrary, our chances of avoiding catastrophe will hinge on an ability to embrace novel understandings wrought by imaginative engagement with emergent realities.
This approach will also prove helpful in withstanding the inevitable conflicts that will arise with the defenders of the present societal arrangements , whose reactionary tactics will grow ever more ruthless and brutal in direct proportion to their escalating level of panic. This, inevitably provoked by the collapsing certainties of the entrenched (but unsustainable) order with which they have aligned their fate.
Those are the types of fears that have kept us estranged from each other, atomized, alienated, mistrustful of the vitality of communal engagement, afraid of movement building…waiting for instructions from the powerful on how to proceed through life, as opposed to going about the business of making the world anew.
"It takes a worried man to sing a worried song…I'm worried now but I won't be worried long," so go the lyrics of the traditional folk song.
By what means do people who have experienced a lifetime of economic hardship and official oppression endure and continue to sing out in defiance?
they cannot gain entrance into your mind
Because they have learned this: the forces of repression might buffet your body, might zip-cuff your wrists, might lock you in jail — but they cannot gain entrance into your mind, unless you allow them in. They cannot imprison your soul unless you let them.
"There is no week nor day nor hour when tyranny may not enter upon this country — if the people lose their confidence in themselves — and lose their roughness and spirit of defiance." — Walt Whitman
souls who will no longer accept the dismal fate of being imprisoned by fear
Whitman's admonition is known innately by some, by those whose spirit of defiance are helping us to remember our innate roughness: by Bradley Manning, by the people of Greece, of OWS, by those stopped and frisked, humiliated, harmed, and jailed on false charges daily on the streets of the U.S. police state, and by the spirit of defiance being displayed in ever increasing degree by oppressed people the world over–by all of those souls who will no longer accept the dismal fate of being imprisoned by fear.
In truth, the one percent would not be capable of building a propaganda apparatus slick enough, nor be able to hire enough cops, nor assemble armies with enough troops, nor build prisons rapidly enough nor large enough to keep us enslaved–if only enough of us awoke to the reality of our common plight.
Therefore: "I'm worried now but I won't be worried long."
Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Phil's website or at FaceBook.
Part One of this essay is published here.