| Society

The Big Empty: Eating Cheetos with the Hungry Ghosts of a Corporate State

Due to the consolidation of wealth and privilege into fewer and fewer hands, thus requiring escalating amounts of officially mandated surveillance and brutality to maintain social order, the natural trajectory of unregulated capitalism tends towards hyper-authoritarian excess, even towards fascism.

Moreover, by the standards of capitalist ideology, and exacerbated by the rigged nature of economic and social arrangements — large segments of society are deemed losers, and, resultantly, will grow restive, if scapegoats aren't invented to mitigate a sense of humiliation and displace rage. Accordingly, rightist demagogic fictions can seize the psyches of large segments of the general public: immigrant interlopers wreck the economy; minority layabouts suck-up public funds; gays and women, possessed of dubious morality, destroy the nation's moral fabric; lefties are driven to challenge the system, but only because of their spite, borne of jealousy.

The "purer" the form of capitalism the faster the rise of fascism. There is a dark and bitter grace to this: Fascism is the deranged agency that sends the capitalist machine into systemic runaway, thus the system crashes and burns — and out of its ashes and debris…a more humane system can come into being.

Although the yearning for freedom is inborn, as is the case with the development of any skill or talent, one must open oneself to its promise by discipline and practice. Otherwise, attempts at exercising freedom — free will's dance with resistant and changing circumstance — can be an ugly sight to behold.

Witness the following litany of the lost evinced by us, the denizens of late-stage capitalism: The dismal air haunted and minds distracted … cluttered by the ceaseless chatter of those dim ghosts of human discourse known as text messages and tweets; the parade of preening narcissists and prattling sub-cretins that is celebrity culture and Reality Television; the joyless bacchanal termed the nation's epidemic of obesity.

bag after bag of salted snack food will not sate the hollow ache within

Experiencing freedom involves risk, imagination, and discipline. In contrast, choosing between purchasing a bag of Cheetos or a bag of Doritos … amounts to not quite the same thing. Resisting the call to freedom leaves an individual empty, and bag after bag of salted snack food will not sate the hollow ache within when one chooses the benumbing safety of culturally proffered palliatives over living out the truth of one's being.

A thousand text messages will never replace a single kiss…because a kiss conjures both the soul's numinosity and brings earthly complications — the stuff of freedom.

When your heart aches, you are experiencing or being beckoned towards your destiny. Depending on the choices that you make, you can become waylaid at a fast food drive-thru or risk the road towards freedom that unfurls before you.

Hint: The excessive heft acquired by your hindquarters will begin to shrink as you begin a long distance trek in the direction of freedom.

What forces unloose titanic appetites…devoid of reason and restraint? Why is more than you can ever need never enough?

How is it that a trillion dollars can be spent on military weaponry, but the collective psyche of this nation continues to be gripped by nebulous fear?

Expressed in mythopoeic lexicon: The appetite of a Titan (e.g., the limit-devoid greed and empty appetite of late capitalism) will grow so random and ravenous that he will devour his own young, while his presence will cause the young to construct Icarusian wings…but an (infantilized by the internalization of consumerist impulsiveness) adult-child of the corporate state can never devour enough sky, thus put enough distance between himself and his own titanic need to escape earthly circumstance…until his wings of wax are undone by the steadfast sun, and he is returned to the inhuman eternity of the sea's briny womb (e.g., languishing in the media hologram, avoiding the implications of personal destiny-denied and global-wide ecocide).

Life must live on death.

The appetite of the earth is insatiable. Life must live on death. To become fully human, one must make peace with this fact by an acceptance of limits, by drawing lines of demarcation between necessity and titanic want.

Storytellers, poets, novelists i.e, myth makers have told this ageless tale of woe and warning for millenia. To ignore the admonition above amounts to insertion of your name into the following list: Tantalus, Midas, Lady Macbeth, George Babbitt, Captain Ahab, Gatsby, Cthulhu, Fred C. Dobbs, Marquise de Merteuil, Patrick Bateman, Mr. Burns, Gollem, the denizens of both Goldman Sachs and your local mall's food court…Ignore the warning and insert your name here: ________________ .

One needs one's emptiness every bit as much as one has the need to be "fulfilled." How so? Because room is required within so that new awareness can grow. Therefore, love your inner, empty places. It is the method that you live your way into the future.

From time to time, I have been asked, how does one cope with the ever increasing "complexity" of our age. Short answer: It would be ill-advised to become adapted to a madhouse.

Instead, attempt to view complexity as future compost. At this stage, a song of grief is as resonate as a song of ebullience… Rot ensures renewal; the future is compost and compost is the future. Thus: Rejoice in the reek. Mortification restores our humanity, turning us away from the tyranny of unchecked proliferation. It bestows us with the ability to love our limits.

In this, it is synonymous with grace.

Part two of this essay will appear on May 19th

Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at: phil@philrockstroh.com. Visit Phil's website or at FaceBook.


Comments are closed.

Our weekly newsletter

Sign up to get updates on articles, interviews and events.