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 Alas Babylon & The Neanderthal Mind
It was some ancient Greek who said, "The mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small". Just about anything anyone ever said, got said in some permutation by an ancient Greek. They had so many different kinds of philosophers that sometimes opposing views were being declaimed on opposite sides of the same river; one weeping and one laughing. In about 2500 years, we've gone from a glut of philosophers to a glut of psychopaths. We've gone from high art and noble thinking to trash art and 'stinking thinking'; stealing a term from the most prominent recovery program of our time. People think it's an economic recovery that we need but what we need to recover is something that has gone missing in ourselves.
It fascinates me to see Israel arm-twisting the world over the Goldstone Report. It is even more fascinating to watch them suborn the official representatives of the victims of Gaza. I watch in disbelief, the appearance of mysterious police forces in small, western towns and the deployment by The Department of Homeland Insecurity of cutting edge, crowd-control weapons to local police forces. There's no problem at the moment but they're working on that.
The Earth is rumbling and shaking beneath the floorboards. The bowels of the Earth are an echo chamber for human discontent. We've fed her enough nasty cuisine to qualify as the mother of all bad Mexican dinners. Montezuma is not amused and quite a few of you aren't going to be either. Well, those among us who are literate enough have read the lines about 'signs and wonders' might have some idea what it all means. Meanwhile, the drunks in the buckboard of the great ship of state are whooping it up like the boys at the Malamute Saloon.
I have to laugh every time I hear about how the recession (which is not a recession) is turning around and everywhere you look you can't help but see those green shoots on the Chia head of the economy. Then, every week jobs are going South- metaphorically speaking, if you catch my drift- and unemployment benefits are running out and the actual unemployment figures are inching up to 20%. What little manufacturing remains in the U.S. has had to cut back their production because of lowered demand and- that's right kiddies- Christmas is coming and winter is coming too.
What startles and fascinates and intrigues me the most though is that there has been little or no improvement in the human psyche. Surrounded by the trappings of a Shake & Bake, instant gratification culture and all the sophistications of the modern age we are still behaving like Neanderthals. Our religious superstitions, devoid of the previous back mystery of other times, are now empty shells riddled with all the excesses that the front men preach against, while performing them for their own amusement.
Certain things hold a people and a culture together. They may not be the best glue we can get but they serve to provide cohesion and continuity. These things are falling apart and cannot hold together because the chemistry has gone awry. What happens in times like this is that the state arms itself against the people as the wheels come off the cart. They arm themselves to protect themselves -and the few who have looted the system entire- from the coming outrage of the people which they intend to stoke into flames when the time comes. There were and are many better solutions to the situation but we're not dealing with enlightened minds. We're dealing with Neanderthal paranoia and appetites.
All around the globe you can see the busy hands of the demented and deluded at work. The Weasel of Westminster, Tony Blair; that shining light of The Middle East, that prancing poodle for Mr. All Hat and no Cattle, that shimmering scion of nation building in plundered landscapes, which no longer possess nations but are now the summa qua non of dismantled and displaced populations, mourning the absence of their fellows yes, that Tony Blair is about to bypass The Lupercal and accept the kingly crown of Europe where no doubt he will perform as he has so far; a disgrace to the world, his country and himself.
The president of the United States has exposed himself as a slick liar with zero shame. He's perched on one of history's surfboards and riding like a man on a mission known only to himself coming down off the wave and right into a bottomless, lava tube where there is no light, no recovery and no possibility of return. I'm waving a linen handkerchief as I watch him from my sidecar of the precession of the Simulacra, as it joins the equinox somewhere in hyperspace. Bon voyage Mon Capitaine. It's a parade he's leading of blind Geithners and deaf Bernakes; ranks of suited clones descend like armies of zombies in a cemetery of night. "No Exit", as a pernicious, commie of a Frenchman once said.
The mass of the peoples of the world are not to be outdone. Their heads bob up and down like pink flamingoes- of the John Waters variety- on a drinking glass. Nimrods and Nodwells all, they do their duty to entropy; on their way to replenish the dinosaur juice for some future world of roads to nowhere. It takes a lot of gas to drive to a destination that cannot be reached by any highway. Well, like they say, it's the journey that's important. I suppose that even if you never get anywhere you know where you've been. What you've been is had.
I wish I had a water buffalo that I could ride out past the Great Wall of China like Lao Tzu but I'm not even in China and I suspect it's not the same world out there that it was in those times. Shambhala is hidden in mist and I've no idea where. I suspect Mongolia but I don't know. I just don't know.
Who could have imagined we would ever come to a time where an honest statesman was rarer than hummingbird's teeth? Who could imagine the streams of corruption that run like the rivers in spring, through the marketplaces and houses of worship; through the neighborhoods and communities. It's a hard call whether confusion or corruption is on top at any given moment. In tandem with the pandemic of ignorance, the specters of black-suited police squads tap with their batons on their Plexiglas shields. They have no idea how they came to be where they are. They know only attack and retreat and they're not anticipating the latter. I suspect they enjoy their work. The only thing greater than anger in the heart of a bully, is the fear that generates it.
Sometimes there's nothing you can do. Of course you do what you can. It may seem futile but it's not. Somehow all the little efforts add up to something further up the road. We cannot see the impact of our humanity against a backdrop of its absence. Sometimes you just have to soldier on. There are two types, so engaged, after two different ends. I suspect that if one can obtain ignominy then one can obtain redemption too. It stands to reason that if there is some great concentration of darkness there must be some great concentration of light as well. It does seem that you have to walk through a lot of darkness to find the light. The reverse would not be true. It's always harder to go the right way because you can't travel on the usual routes.
The greatest injury to me is not the daily evidence of dirty doings or the wide indifference to it. It's the crushing weight of the moment as it soldiers on as well. It's the ordinary as it passes beyond its own boundaries, as if there might be some succor there. It's as if perversion would finally arrive at virtue by persistence.
It's a dark day here. The sky is milk white in anticipation of the season changing. Perhaps that is the atmosphere of this piece.
the young suffer and long
the old regret
i imagine this must be so,
I have not got there yet
it may be this is the usual thing
but not cut in stone
or forced-
a matter of choice
it is the result of reflection
on courses not taken
and courses taken
anyone could go otherwise
than the common road...
the vast herd of the dying
with no way out,
or so they think
or even prefer...
i don't know
i have another way to go
over narrow paths
among high rocks and wind
rough water
through crashing darkness
before it turns serene...
but then,
on that further shore...
what is there that might concern me anymore?
you may have your ceremonies
and meet the Queen for tea
you may ride in the carriage of the chosen
over the bodies of the fallen
and over the crest of the roar
of acclaim
as they shout your name...
and where does the carriage go?
you don't want to know...
I hear them...
the canyon rocks with dreams
and you are unable to awaken-
and you cannot forget
this is why the young
suffer and long
and why the old regret.
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