Fastened To A Dying Animal: A Short Jeremiad Regarding That Affront to the Nation’s Dignity Known as the US Election Process

Here in this crumbling empire once known as the American republic, here in a nation that, at present, for all practical purposes, only produces Cheetos and killer drones, whose architecture is being winnowed down to thriving rural meth houses and foreclosed upon suburban mchouses, whose corrupt corporate culture has bequeathed upon our suffering planet dying oceans and the hyper-caffeinated tsunami of Red Bull Capitalism — the essential question confronts us — how does one retain (not retail) one’s humanity amid the catastrophic machinery and inane accoutrement of our age?

“Show your wounds,” exhorted the late 20th Century artist Joseph Boyce. The wound becomes the womb, poets tell us. Out of painful truth, beauty is born. But, antithetical to the orthodoxies of consumer capitalism, there are no shortcuts. According to legend, Faust sold his soul for a glimpse of eternal beauty and the hidden knowledge of the world. Sadly, we’ve done likewise (but worse, pathetically) for a glimpse of Paris Hilton’s privileged (but hardly gated and guarded) cooter.

Here, now, sprawled upon the detritus of our dignity, we are confronted by the exponential dynamics of decay known as the US Presidential Election cycle. In this, all three corporate candidates are of little use to us. Although all three have done very well for themselves by the present and prevailing arrangement known as Disaster Capitalism.

What motivation do they have to change the system by which they’ve thrived? McCain, Clinton, and Obama must serve the interests of the corrupt corporate class — or else they would be marginalized. Paradoxically, as we have witnessed, as of late, if they make even the most minute rumblings to the contrary — as for example, blundering into a steaming pile of the obvious such as the observation that the battered laboring class of the nation might be embittered by their lot — they risk political immolation by being labeled an elitist.

Of course, Obama is an elitist. (As are Clinton and McCain.) And he has been put on notice by the Powers That Be that they have no problem with him being among their ranks, as long as he doesn’t go rattling off at the mouth about those the rigged system benefits and those it kicks daily in the gut. Because in a political culture as far down the rabbit hole as is this one, the surest way to be branded an elitist is to refuse to serve the elite. (Not that Obama threatened any such thing.) This is the modus operandi of the lacquered, autoerotic dudes and dolls of the corporate media and the K Street cash-flushed phonies of the American political classes: Pose as protecters of the beer-bleary multitudes, as, all the while, carrying vintage Cabernet for a privileged few.

This is not a situation fraught with layers of ambiguity in which any deeper meaning can be mined: Below the corporate media’s electronic cloud of nebulous phoniness lies a dense core of calcified phoniness. Thus it is difficult not to harbor contempt for this cartel of narcissistic strivers who have networked the nation into a perpetual state of cataclysmic ignorance. Seemingly, their creed is: Let the ignorant multitudes languish on the low nutrient, junk news we serve them from the drive thru windows of our corporate media outlets, while the political and business elite cannibalize what is left of the republic.

The ongoing tragedy in Iraq and the ecological and economic turmoil roiling the globe are consequences of the domination-driven mindset that the mainstream media protects. Ergo, increasingly violent responses from outside forces, both of the human and natural variety, are rising across the planet. America, many shocks and sorrows are coming soon (probably sooner than you think) to that vacuous bubble known as “your way of life.”

It should be increasingly clear to see that the corporate media’s job has never been to be unbiased chroniclers of the events and circumstances of a free republic. Rather, they are active agents serving to protect and promulgate the pernicious myths of free market capitalism. And they are a highly partisan lot. Moreover, they have been highly successful in their mission. Hence, our lives, both inner and outer, have been conquered and colonized by the corporate empire, and a resultant forced occupation dominates our days determining the trajectory of our brief lives upon this earth.

[S]ick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

– W.B. Yeats

Yet, we, against all evidence, believe we are free actors in a spontaneous, unfolding democratic drama. When, in reality, we have been cast as dehumanized supernumeraries in a lethal farce that renders all concerned both oppressor and oppressed. This is the central paradox that binds us. And it is why the average American cannot see our imperial occupation of Iraq and our increasingly dangerous belligerence towards Iran for what it is. How can we have a modicum of empathy for the people of Iraq when we refuse to even glimpse our own degraded condition and our complicity therein?

“God Damn America,” the people of Sadr City must rage, as the bombs shake their homes and tear the flesh from their friends and family. “God Damn, America,” I mutter, echoing the good Reverend Wright, as I witness the indifference of the American people to the war crimes committed by our nation’s leaders.

By the insidious technique of propaganda by omission, the public has been manipulated into a state approaching criminal obliviousness. “What is this crazy talk about the calamity of class stratification that defines and divides the nation, and what sort of demented, leftist loser would even raise the topic among decent company?” our present mandarins of media scoff when the topic of class inequity is broached. Add to that, the ongoing ruse of the ceaseless dissemination of fear perfected by the right-wing media noise machine and then parroted in the mainstream media that goes something like the following: “There are evil entities afoot in the nation known as radical liberals who scheme to take away your guns and give them to islamofascist terrorists so that those agents of Satan over at Planned Parenthood will be free to rip fetuses from their mothers wombs in order to expose the unborn to porn.”

This is the reason for the cacophony of inanity that dominates the coverage of the political events of our time: It serves as white noise that drowns out unpleasant truths. It is the mood music piped into our national bubble. Accordingly, trivial and specious narratives drive and dominate our national political debate and it has, as a consequence, rendered the nation’s public too shallow to even apprehend the extent of the damage inflicted by official treachery, professional cupidity, and the degree of their own degradation therein.

Otherwise, the collective psyche of the nation would be shaken to the core. Tragically, there is no longer any core to be found. There is merely the surface sheen of the American bubblescape … its surface taut with inner tension as it is stretched to its limits, as, all the while, reality bristles ever closer to its over-stretched skin.

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

8 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Lloyd Rowsey said on April 28th, 2008 at 6:49am #

    *Sailing to Byzantium

    I

    That is no country for old men. The young
    In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
    - Those dying generations – at their song,
    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.

    II

    An aged man is but a paltry thing,
    A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
    Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
    For every tatter in its mortal dress,
    Nor is there singing school but studying
    Monuments of its own magnificence;
    And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
    To the holy city of Byzantium.

    III

    O sages standing in God’s holy fire
    As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
    Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
    And be the singing-masters of my soul.
    Consume my heart away; sick with desire
    And fastened to a dying animal
    It knows not what it is; and gather me
    Into the artifice of eternity.

    IV

    Once out of nature I shall never take
    My bodily form from any natural thing,
    But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
    Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
    To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
    Or set upon a golden bough to sing
    To lords and ladies of Byzantium

  2. Lloyd Rowsey said on April 28th, 2008 at 7:13am #

    You said a mouthful, Phil.

  3. Don Hawkins said on April 28th, 2008 at 8:24am #

    Phil glad to hear from you again. I just watched Rev.Wright today he’s good. If I could ever meet him the first thing I would say is,”hay if you the man how can I be the man”? Wait for a good answer I am sure give him a high five and head on down the road.

  4. Lloyd Rowsey said on April 28th, 2008 at 3:38pm #

    Well, Phil. Like most good writers, you’ve discombulated DV’s readership completely. I’d keep touting your piece, but why bother? Ron Jacobs, not a particularly good writer but an extraordinarily cogent and logical one, as well as politicos and others, often just drop their articles here and move on, accepting “no comments posted” as a compliment.

    The crazies didn’t jump on it with both feet, and it must have been convincing to the non-crazies who don’t crave seeing their footprints in the sand.

  5. hp said on April 28th, 2008 at 9:39pm #

    Damn Phil, talk like that makes a person wish so very hard there really is a God.

  6. yahooseevaca said on April 28th, 2008 at 11:24pm #

    from the dead competing took as proud well done it. their names by helping leaves now him. them.

  7. Don Hawkins said on April 29th, 2008 at 9:25am #

    Phil Go to James Hansen’s web site and read his new stuff. “Tipping points: perspectives of a climatologist”.

  8. Hue Longer said on April 29th, 2008 at 6:47pm #

    I like Phil’s work

    Whatever happend to Leila Matsui? Phil, Leila and Joe Bageant are all entertaining writers I’ve discovered here