Negotiating a landscape of hypocrisy and hungry ghosts
By Phil Rockstroh
When Bill Clinton and his scary, scary libido stalked the public realm, Republicans warned his presence was so anathema to all things holy that his hot breath served to salt the wings of choirs of angels.
Yet Newt Gingrich's booty calls are forgivable. Stones shall not be cast. His transgressions humanize him and the balms of forgiveness of Christian believers rising from this sin-buffeted earth cause the Baby Jesus to coo into the dawn of a coming golden age.
When Bush/Cheney sat at the helm of empire and plundered foreign lands and breached the rule of law, Democratic partisans insisted that constitutional order be reestablished by having Bush et al marched in shackles from the halls of power. To do anything short of this was to risk the foundation of the republic being crushed to rubble and silt beneath the boot of tyranny.
Yet, we critics of duopoly are accused of being impractical sorts who don't dwell in this world, the world of the possible. Although, it seems that political partisans give themselves permission to dwell, simultaneously, in two worlds: This one, as well as a Bizarro World--the parallel universe limned in comic books--where all things are done in reverse, where true is false and false is true, as well as, apparently, a realm where Newt Gingrich is a shining standard bearer of moral rectitude and a defender of faith and family and President Obama is a protector of constitutional law and a friend of the downtrodden.
According to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center, 77% of the citizens of the U.S. expressed the belief that the massive power imbalance in place in the nation is a direct result of the vast wealth inequity between the 1% and the 99%. In addition, according to a poll by Time Magazine, 86% of Americans held the conviction that Wall Street and its lobbyists exert undue influence over the U.S. political class.
Still, both major U.S. political parties remain unmoved by the opinions of their constituents and unresponsive to their needs. By having the right to vote under present day, political duopoly, one is granted the right to co-sign the ongoing fraud that the nation is a democratic republic. To vote for either a Democratic or Republican candidate (i.e., the well vetted stooges of the 1%) is to cast a vote in favor of the only political party allowed in the rigged process--The Big Money, Perpetual War Party.
Believing that replacing one of these candidates with the other…is in any way propitious is analogous to believing that the hanging of new wallpaper within a house with a rotted-out foundation constitutes renovating the structure.
Memo to those who cling to the hope you can change the order of a calcified system from within e.g., the U.S. political, corporate and governmental order:
What has caused you to believe you can change the insatiable appetite of a mindless beast from within the belly of said leviathan? Seemingly, your predicament presents you with these alternatives: 1) paste up some soothing wallpaper. 2) Learn to play the xylophone on its ribcage (i.e., turn your powerlessness into the stuff of art). 3) Light a fire and have the creature vomit you to freedom. Otherwise, you're going to be digested; you will lose your mind and body to the dehumanizing system and become part of its monstrous form.
As they embody the Spiritus Mundi of empire's end, Obama builds towering monuments of verbiage into empty air while Mitt Romney bores the soul of liberty into a soporific state, causing her to sleepwalk into a bottomless abyss of bland.
Obama and Romney manage to hide the malevolent, hungry ghost of empire behind a veneer of soul-defying, daylight normalcy. But Newt Gingrich's bloated carcass displays imperium's murderous id. What has become of the diminishing resources of the world? Newt grows ever fatter and more grotesque as he greedily devours these things. What terrible fate befell the U.S. constitution? Newt dry humped it to dust.
Regarding the mindset, libido, and modus operandi of the 1%: We are confronted with types who would clearcut the last tree standing in the last forest on earth to render down to toothpicks used to pick scraps of flesh from the teeth of the members of their class who just dined on the last Bird of Paradise.
To resist, we, as individuals and en masse, are advised to mitigate our sense of powerlessness by occupying our own libido, thereby allowing oneself to be drawn into the élan vital of the world…to ride the zeitgeist, embodying the eros of resistance and renewal, and, in so doing, refusing to defer to the corrupt-beyond-redemption machinations of the U.S. political and big media classes.
Ask yourself and those around you Rainer Maria Rilke's deceptively simple question: How shall I spend my days?
To appropriate Cornell West's phrase, launch yourself into the midst of "the funk of life" by means of the gritty sublime of cultural eros…This act is a marriage of earthly complaint and winged aspiration--both a lamentation and goof take--a conversation/a collaboration/a spirited debate between what has been lost to indifference, exploitation, and cupidity--and the insistent eros of the breathing moment--a commitment to occupy life's restive pantheon of purpose and decay.
Show your face to the world. Occupy libido by acts large and small, public and private.
Conversely, in what way is it attractive, healthy, or even interesting to willingly submit to the dictates of a culture that has conjured from the zeitgeist the likes of Gingrich--a high chair tyrant of the lowest order--a grotesque man-brat banging on the sides of his elevated seat, insisting that all the things of the world he sees are, "MINE!”
Why did the zeitgeist regurgitate Gingrich into our midst? Newt embodies the misappropriated libido and attendant, oceanic sense of entitlement of the corporate consumer state i.e., modes of being conjured by the dark magicians of advertising and finance to enslave the 99%, as, all the while, the system's rapacious verities and doomed vectors serve as the lodestar and raison d’être of the 1%.
Eric Hoffer advised, "You can never get enough of what you don't really need."
William Butler Yeats, on the subject of being overwhelmed by abundance:
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.--excerpt: Sailing to Byzantium
One's character is forged amid this agon of excess and restraint e.g., of discerning the difference between the habitual excesses of consumer addiction and the callings of one's character; life lessons that are arrested by the shallow compulsions and time-sucking demands of the current neoliberal order.
As things stand, there exists no panacea to prevent this dilemma. Yet the messy, learning process known as creative resistance will suffice i.e., a type of endeavor similar to an artist's approach to his craft, involving his working with the materials at hand…At present, those materials being: you--your longings, your inspiration, your aspirations, your defeats, your mindful refusal to accept the diminished and demeaning status quo, and, of course, the found material of: the status quo itself.
As revealed by the deeds of OWS, promoting a dialog between individual and cultural forces leaves one receptive to the transformation that unfolds when enjoined in the conversation of the times. Don't allow the soul of discourse to be dominated by the half-mad, hungry ghosts possessing empire's end.
“Awareness, no matter how confused it may be, develops from every act of rebellion: the sudden, dazzling perception that there is something in man with which he can identify himself, if only for a moment … What was at first the man’s obstinate resistance now becomes the whole man, who is identified with and summed up in this resistance. The part of himself that he wanted to be respected he proceeds to place above everything else and proclaims it preferable to everything, even to life itself … [Resistance] lures the individual from his solitude. It founds its first value on the whole human race. I rebel–therefore we exist.”--Albert Camus
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