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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/4/11

"We Would Rather Die In Our Dread"

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To cite one collective peril: The oceans of the earth are the matrix of life on our planet. As did all life on land, we human beings emerged from ancient seas. And we will not survive for long by dramatically altering its nature by the short sighted greed and hubris of the present time. We will be pulled to our death by its destruction, like Ahab lashed to Moby Dick.

Given the degraded quality of life in the nation, why do the people of the U.S. stand for this culture of exploitation and diminished prospects?

We resist the dread incurred by an attempt to climb our way past the proliferate distractions of the moment, thus avoiding this extant state of affairs: Beneath the shimmering sea of the media hologram, a monstrous virulence glides. Belying our consumerist habit of mind (evinced in traits of feigned insouciance and blithe disregard) yawns a system sustained by the blood and treasure-depleting apparatus of militarism and economic exploitation -- a system that is reaping vast destruction upon the ecological balance of the earth, the foundation of community, and upon individual psychological well-being.

Accordingly, a gnawing emptiness is the constant companion of the denizens of the corporate/militarist/consumer state. This emptiness is the progenitor of its destructive nature. In a vain attempt to sate the hollow ache and banish the gathering dread, the rapacious appetite of empire rises and is perpetually reinforced.

There is the banality of evil and then there is the evil of banality. Witness: The present banality of our ecocide-inflicting mode of being -- one that reduces the world to only those things that can be commodified and thus reduces earth, sky and psyche to controllable (dreamless and dead) bits. We stare at our appliances as exquisite things are extinguished, forever ... mistaking configurations of pixels for the breath and brilliance of the world.

On a personal basis, the present system levels this dismal legacy upon the nation: Minds made of internalized shopping malls; bodies built by junk food; libidos informed by celebrity porn; agendas driven by a crass, good versus evil, winners and losers, cartoon cosmology. Congratulations, America, we've done the architects of the republic proud.

Some people are fragile, and the system breaks them for life. In contrast, others are resilient, but will grow callous and conformist. Yes, life is a fist fight and a marriage and a dull evening of laundry and a trundle through trivia and a flight of the sublime. The point: Be alive within life ... don't submit to any ass-backwards, assembly line-modeled mode of being, gridded by comforting casuistry, maintained by hierarchies of bullies, and settled for due to fear or convenience.

"When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie." --Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Insulated in our landscape of silence, we demand the ground beneath us be salted with deceit, begetting the bone-dry wilderness of ignorance and duplicity we know as late, neoliberal empire. Otherwise, fiery incantations of outrage would bloom from within us -- a combustive wildfire immolating to ash our tinderbox rationalizations ... perhaps, leaving an ash-fall to nourish sleeping seeds of renewal.

"What is to endure light must endure burning." -- Victor Frankl

Yet, this writer is bereft of a plan to redeem humankind. Who can afford such hubris? In contrast, I negotiate the world with my heart and head, and I sing of its joys and sorrows. Apropos, within the kingdom of this breathing moment, I hear arias rising ... auguring the decay of this nation. In short, I am a poet and an essayist not a civic planner.

Accordingly, here are a few heart-wrought observations from the personal ash heap of my poetically archaic sensibility and sent out to the fear-bandying cynics of the elitist political and economic classes -- to those who reduce all of life to the economic sophistry of Disaster Capitalism (who have been disingenuously warning, "run for your lives; the debt-ceiling is falling!") -- who just can't envisage a world that is not as degraded as their own mindset -- to those in positions of insular, arrogant power who inflict great harm upon those bereft of privilege and then proclaim, "this is just the way things have to be."

False, that is merely the way things exist in the confines of your miserable cosmology. To the contrary, the world is a vast, ever-changing tapestry ... that you merely perceive as a dung rag for your exclusive use.

"The most intense conflicts, if overcome, leave behind a sense of security and calm that is not easily disturbed. It is just these intense conflicts and their conflagration which are needed to produce valuable and lasting results." -- Carl Jung

We have a daunting struggle ahead of us. Therefore, I proffer the following short message to those purer-than-thou souls who counsel that art (including the arts of political resistance) should only be uplifting, moderate, and beautiful:

Art (reflecting our world) is often sublimely ugly, monstrously so. The image of a monster opens the soul to awe. Note: The word "awe" is the prefix for both awesome and awful). Often, creating ugliness carries as much purpose as creating beauty.

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Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/phil.rockstroh

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