– What once was.
I was in the car, nights of pain, of ataxia, of alternating prayers for healing, or for quick and painless death having obliterated much of my sense of belief that life has a particular meaning or sense…
(And that’s the opening line. All true. Let’s continue.)
And the radio was on, a pop song rang its tinny tones through the speakers, and I had a sense – one I can’t say I’ve ever had – that I’d never heard a song on a stereo before. What was that sound? Why should it come from nowhere?
Then, that I’d never been in a car before, moving down a desert highway. Why are we moving so quickly? On this path? With others in the same boxes around us?
The world I’ve been used to, the one I’ve been programmed with pulled away, and in this place where I’m living, proximally between life and death, considering both from this small boat, looking at both shores, I am seeing things I’ve never seen before.
Nothing we do is natural. None of it has actual human value. All of it has constrained and programmatic value. That is, nothing we do in our modern world serves us in the primal way that any human born before the industrial age would have even remotely comprehended.
And in plain english: all of our action is an illusion; meant to spin a wheel that drops a number into an account. But none of it is real. Real in the sense of those things we did every day for a couple hundred thousand years – when we were human. Those things: food, shelter, tribe, play, sex, hunting, foraging, tracking, stars, moon, river, earth, wind, rain, sun.
I suppose there’s nothing new there to critics of modern capitalism…but to feel it palpably, out of nowhere, as the song pulls away, and the cars seem like metal buffalo on the plain…it’s a bit of a stunner: None of what we do or how we live is even remotely real.
We lived in long houses. We lived with the people together. We slept with the men on one side, the women and children on another. We ate in the tribal circle. We ate together. We ate from the same place, the same food, prepared as the seasons demanded, as the hunt returned, as the foraging provided. We did so together. We shared, we fed each other. We sat by the fire. The fire told stories of the heroes of the past – who had become gods.
We lived our lives in the open; nature was beaten back just enough to give us pause from her predators; and not so much so that we couldn’t hunt in her thick dense foliage.
And it’s all gone. Now, it’s houses. Each family, a partitioned tribe, each isolated, even from each other. All going mad with the feeling of self-importance and disconnection. Rooms in houses; houses in blocks.
Blocks and blocks of houses. Each with four walls and a roof. Carbon copies of each other, side by side, never touching, never interacting, holding anxious mortgage payers and subscribers to multi-channel cable and satellite non-reality, simulations of life meant to pull the thorns of unmet sexual expression and desire out of your solar plexus on a nightly basis.
Video zombie murder pouring into the heads of children in every living room; three, four, five televisions on in any house in every moment.
These blocks of houses containing people vaguely described as “neighbors,” but neighbors who do not know each other, do not eat together, and do not share a single thing. All needing four walls and a roof, and separate televisions, movie collections, phones, and meal plans.
The houses in the neighborhood spiral along paths but do not touch. The people do not connect. Neighbors are only renters of proximal spaces; the spaces are filled with digital illusions that do not connect. Simulacrums of sex, of unexpressed frustration dressed up as righteous rage against a color-by-numbers enemy of the mind (pick your color, race, religion, political affiliation – and set for kill). The bubbles of illusion do not connect. One person’s sopping up of sexual fantasy and gestalt does not, cannot, intrude too much on anyone else’s – for that would be a:
Real Life Experience.
Which is everything that we:
Do Not Want Anymore
Riding down the road, I felt like an Indian on horseback, suddenly transmuted into the passenger seat, as shocked as a time-traveler by the bending of space from what always has been, to what never ever had been before. And what will surely pass quickly and suddenly, and painfully from our existence.
I will not lie, I am not very well. The neurological illness, or whatever you’d like to call it, is gnawing away at areas of my brain that have, my whole life, operated flawlessly, or nearly so. When an essential sub-system goes “off-line” (to be Star-Trekky about it), you’ll realize for the first time that you are a machine that operates at discrete, complex and precisely interlocking levels. When some of those gears are broken, when some of the locks are smashed…you will feel the weight of being slam down upon your head like a storm of thick, broken glass. It’s a brutal and merciless wonder to behold.
In that space of glass rain, I’m seeing the world starkly. I see us, this broken tribal creature, stuffed into the dominoes of our suburban shelters, never overlapping, never sharing a kitchen, a living area, a music space – all terrified lest we violate the laws of consumerist segregation. We are disquieted, anxious at profound levels, due to our dissociated existence. We go to therapy; we take Prozac. We uphold the illusion by saying “Jesus” once in awhile between shopping excursions to buy what oil makes for us (it would be a sin to interact too much in communities – flirting and breaking of taboos would be inevitable. That cannot happen. It must not happen.)
Saying “Jesus” is what we, the prisoners of the machine world must say – we worship a dying, emaciated and broken man. We scream his name as we grow fatter and sadder and less connected to life. We worship pain because we are in pain. Life is painful; but ours is the torment of being disconnected from the electricity of the world… We are desperately trying to remember it. We hope that our friend Jesus will help us; we need his forgiveness; we’re not sure why. His father was so cruel and shamed us so severely, perhaps the son can make it alright…if we just believe.. if we just believe…if we just believe…
The world, to me, is slipping its illusions. I don’t see suburbs anymore. I see prisoners in four walls under a roof that is hiding the stars from their eyes. I see people caged behind walls, desperate to interact with each other, to care for each other, to play the games of life and tribe with each other…but unable to, so sucked through the maze and distorting lens of on-demand “live” video game murder-death-kill, followed by an hour or two of scripted, sanitary and televised sex-fantasy for the quasi-adults in the walled box; who then turn it off and do not remember that they themselves have needs that will go unexpressed forever and ever, as the Jewish, Christian, Muslim or Hindu God commands, Amen.
Our boxes insulate us from our humanity and starve our nature. It’s a wonder anyone in America is actually alive at all. Because nobody here lives. No one dares move a speck off the Jesus-land reservation of hillbilly high-fives and guffaws at the faggot and blonde jokes. We’re all enraptured by this silicone illusion. And nobody really cares.
Everybody’s sick, nobody’s happy…everyone’s distracted. And no one will do a thing about it.
No one can.
All you can do in America is die slowly. Because no one lives here.
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