“Poor America, tossed on a pilgrim tide, land where the poets died.”
Put two Americans in a room and tell them the country is in decline, and it’s unlikely you’ll raise strong objections; but ask them to describe the cause, and you’ll get five different answers. Most of the usual explanations are so wrong that refuting them is foolish. Not that I have the answers, but I would at least admit an affection for the facts.
The deluge of disinformation flooding our collective has long surpassed Orwellian proportions and is now nearly biblical. I applaud those of you–Krugman, Hitchens,Vidal, Bauman, et al–who struggle against the tides and still manage to get up every morning. It’s all I can do to keep my chin up, let alone throw haymakers, or pass out life vests. Yeah, sometimes I fantasize about riding that wave all the way down God’s throat, and gang pressing Jesus into service. So what? Who has the time?
“Toss those money lenders out, you lazy bastard,” I’d say. “You think 33 years and a cross was enough suffering for the whole world? All of it? Really? The whole world? Boddhisattva’s come back to the world forever. They vow to suffer forever, until every single sentient being is ‘saved,’ and you thought one time around was enough to rescue the whole lot? Arrogant, prick!”
“Get your ass down there and get to work,” I’d tell him, before rummaging through God’s colon in search of Job. That guy’s got to be spoiling for a fight.
I’m sure Jesus would be unmoved, and probably a little sad because I mistook basic accounting principles for a divine economy, but still that’s the fantasy. Find some substance in the shit that turns human nature on its head, that topsy-turvies time.
See, I told you: even my mixed metaphors are tired.
Yes, it’s true that Occupy Wall Street didn’t have a message, and they used stupid hand gestures, and they really didn’t seem to understand that their spokespeople should look like they might have a shot at a casting call for Occupy Wall Street Activists, and not like they were unemployed, but can they really be faulted for not knowing how to slay the Beast?
Please, if someone knows where to shoot the arrow, tell me now. Anyone who might have a line on its secret heart, scream it from the roof tops, because by my reckoning it’s half past midnight and all the watchmen are asleep. If there’s one of you in the mix who has some sense of where its lair might be found, please find me, email me, text me, Facebook me, Twitter, post or kidnap me; teach me your ways. I will take the shot when the target is clear. That the country has angled past anything like an equilateral distribution of opportunities is beyond argument–though many will still argue it. But don’t puff up your chest too much. It can get worse. Much worse.
Look, in reality there’s nothing all that wrong with America economically, or militarily–at least not when measured against the rest of the world’s economic collapse, and salvation-army-size deployments–but what do you think’s going to happen when something really goes wrong? Sure we need a manufacturing base, and real education reform, and the financial sector is under the mistaken impression that it shits gold, but in reality things are not that bad.
No, we are in the throws of a spiritual collapse, a cultural fallout.
But when it’s not just advertisements of doom, or sneak previews of decay, what then? Empire is just as ugly in red, white and blue as it is in Caesarian gold and Napoleonic blue. Grab your geometry books, and look at the proofs. More extreme structures exist. Scalenes of indifference await. Vast inequalities, singular concentrations, segregated aspirations. Triangular structures, as all structures of power are, do not require justice, just justifications.
I don’t mean to be obscure: triangles and floods and flags, Jesus and Job and Buddhist vows. They’re just a hodgepodge of lenses filtering the noise. There are a myriad of ways to approach the ding an sich, the thing-in-itself, the kicked-curb, the “rose is a rose is a rose.” Make it concrete or symbolic, perhaps analogic, even anagogic, take your pick. Everyone knows something is wrong, and they’re flinging everything they’ve got.
I don’t know if anything will work, and I won’t fault the people who don’t know the same.