(Editor's note: As America's Great Middle Class crumbles, the Rich are again grasping for every possible regulatory rollback and tax cut, all the better to fund some final bacchanal of late-stage capitalism, a well-catered cocktail party of aging men and women wearing the false face of Botox, as poet Phil Rockstroh observes.)
Wall Street is again flush with the electronic facsimile of the stuff once known as money. But this is a Botox Recovery: A superficial procedure, accomplished with a nerve paralyzing poison, reserved for the wealthy whose vanity has driven them to transform their faces into caricatures of corruption " to acquiring a countenance, frozen as a creepy doll, incapable of showing emotion -- a grotesque simulacrum of the human face.
A Botox-distorted face reveals an individual with a distorted view of existence: that life's limits, in this case the process of aging, must be hidden, and by doing so, artifice trumps reality. In a similar manner, life under our current Botoxed economic and political structure seems a gruesome distortion of life itself -- a desperate gambit to veil the carnage inflicted by the monstrous excesses of oligarchic and Anthropocene Age exploitation of populace and planet.
Upon seeing the face of a narcissist whose features have been willingly disfigured by Botox, one wonders the obvious: Does he even look in the mirror?
Yes. But, as is the case with the One Percent, he only sees what he is desperate to see. He has succeeded in fooling himself, thus he believes he fools all who have the misfortune to gaze upon him.
A stammered truth is more resonate to the heart than a well-told lie. Unfortunately, a habitually dissembling mindset will view the situation in reverse. All too often, internalized systems of viewing an unfolding event will determine an individual's take on a given situation.
If the institutions (e.g., familial, religious, governmental, mass
media) that have influenced one's method of perception are themselves
compromised by internalized, self-resonating biases, then a type of
carnival funhouse mirror effect comes into play (both on an individual
and culture-wide basis) whereby distortions reflect distortions that, in
turn, reflect those distortions " ad infinitum.
Reality is made grotesque, and gross distortions are perceived as reality. This is why it is essential, on an individual basis, to develop a method of viewing that includes the heart, the gut, and all of one's senses. A lie only fools the mind; in contrast, truth reverberates throughout one's entire being.
"All I have is a voice / To undo the folded lie." -- W.H. Auden
At present, only slightly more than 40 percent of the population of the U.S. accepts the verifiable reality of global climate chaos. A constant barrage of propaganda in the form of fake science, contrived and propagated by massive, obscenely wealthy multi-national energy corporations, is one reason for the dismal and still declining number of the populace who cannot discern truth-seeking scientific inquiry from the dissembling of a big money-bribed cadre of hacks and PR flacks.
This development, troubling enough on its own, is emblematic of a larger dilemma. The pervasive false consciousness, engendered by the atomized, artificial nature of existence within the corporate/consumer state -- e.g., the Media Age usurping of the innate longings of the human heart by transmuting desire into consumer craving -- has not only left consumerist true-believers bereft of the ability to honestly process information -- but has rendered all too many unable to locate the source of their own suffering.
It is impossible to sate empty appetite by more empty consumption. Conversely, the hollowness at the core of consumer state anomie can only be remedied by an awakening of the heart.
How does one take this course of action? The answer is neither recondite nor inaccessible: by the time honored methods of grief, gratitude, and embracing an enthusiasm for social and political engagement. At present, the current societal and governmental arrangements give us ample opportunity for practice.
Begin by: grieving for our abuse of the flora and fauna of this living planet; then, grieve for the suffering we bring to ourselves by these callous actions. Because, as long as we believe it is our birthright to exploit the planet, it follows that we will continue to believe it permissible to ruthlessly exploit one another by the same heartless methods.
There is no need for a vengeful god above to punish us for our transgressions " we're doing just fine on our own. Trudging through life devoid of the warmth bestowed by a compassionate heart amounts to divesting one's self of soul -- i.e., rendering oneself not fully alive within life.