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In The Land Of Never Was

by PHIL ROCKSTROH

Often, the world…forever unfolding, recombining, morphing, dying and transforming…changes before the mind can grasp the implications of the ongoing alterations. This is the basis of nostalgia, for memory freezes the world like an insect encased in amber.

Maturity dawns when you begin to look back at your life and long to be able to make amends for your blindness. Because changing the past is impossible, it follows to strive to possess a greater degree of self-awareness in the present. By this measure, we, the people of the U.S., insulated in the eternal present of our media hologramatic bubble and in the thrall of perpetual post-adolescent-level self-involvement, have some growing up to do.

Circumstances change, people change, yet the people of the U.S. cling to an outmoded and ossified view of themselves, their nation, and the world at large…but events keep moving right along. For example, given the degree of danger, and by danger, I mean, global wide, species (including our own) devastation, begot by Industrial Age-engendered Climate Chaos — we cannot afford to go about business as usual.

On consideration of the path we are heading down, at exponentially increasing speed, uprising (engendered by mortification and propelled by outrage) would appear to be an appropriate course of action. If you were embarked on a journey across the high seas and discovered the captain and his officers were all suicidal madmen — then mutiny would be a viable option.

The data is in: The oceans of the earth are dying; the very air is bedizened with seeds of fire.

This is not gray beard, flapping in the meaningless breeze, prophecy; this is  verifiable, peer-reviewed science. The time for discussion and debate has passed. Only fools, cranks, and greed-besotted psychotics doubt the effect that trapped greenhouse gasses are reaping across the planet. We no longer have the luxury of indulging their corporate age form of blindness and insanity.

America, take a look out the window…risk taking in the passing scene.

However, rather than doing so, we draw the curtains tight and reach for the TV remote or a host of other insulating electronic devices that serve to circumvent self-examination. We turn away in denial or rage in belligerent ignorance, because we see the world moving on, and we cannot control the situation…no matter how many predator drones we have scouring the globe. Increasingly, we feel uneasy, for we see events are changing fast — and, as the momentum of events propel us through time, we are not yet ready to accept the fact, but know deep within us, that we cannot remain the people that we are.

Grasping the reality of one’s situation can be painful. Those in the U.S. still clinging to the tattered myths of late stage capitalism would be hurt and angry, if they came to realize the amount of corporate state propaganda that they have internalized…that has allowed for their exploitation by a ruthless, unaccountable few e.g., the fairy tale of upward class migration. Ergo, the relentless, all-pervasive manner in which well-funded operatives of the rightwing wage class warfare. For example, the noxious canard asserting welfare layabouts have sponged up your fair share of hard wrought earnings. In this way, the bigot whispers of the capitalist state have created a mean-spirited, punitive cosmology that serves to emotionally displace anger. And these tropes of demagogic displacement are quite lucrative to its accomplished practitioners e.g., Rush Limbaugh.

The winners/losers mythos of capitalism renders people sick with shame while its tendency towards class stratification promotes feelings of powerlessness and unfocussed rage; hence, many develop a compulsion to displace their frustrations. Withal, they evince the mindset of embittered slaves who have been told, and worse insist, that the corporatist/militarist boot on their necks is better termed a Liberty Massage; they seethe with displaced projections on people that they perceive to be layabouts, when, in fact, by these projections, they are displaying a type of envy. These perceived loafers (i.e., imaginary beings, who are, seemingly,  as troublesome, yet as hard to locate as fairy folk) are getting away with something — while you have to slave away, toiling for the obscene profits of a privileged elite who think those below them are fools for swallowing whole the propaganda they promulgate about this imaginary, miracle system known as free market capitalism, which never has worked (and never will work) as advertised, because it never has and never will exist. Moreover, given the reality of Democratic/Republican duopoly in place to protect the interest of the moneyed classes, we will not be able to vote our way out of this situation.

I know my assertion that one’s vote is worse than meaningless (Caveat: It is flat-out meaningful to those who rigged the game by providing the system with the illusion of being legit.) is bound to evoke, in some, feelings of angst, because the assertion points out the hopelessness of the situation. Good. Hope is the snake oil sold to suckers at the traveling medicine show/cheap carnival of this faux democratic republic. What the ruling elite fear is the audacity of hopelessness — because that is when citizens see through the illusions created by their exploiters and rise up and destroy the house of mirrors of the status quo.

Believing you’re contributing to the greater good by the act of voting in this big money-controlled, sham republic…is like donating your blood to a blood bank owned by vampires.

The last, best way that we, as a nation, can endure…is to challenge social convention and political boilerplate (each and every calcified cliché and soul-defying platitude) at all levels. Change arrives when heart and mind open to new understandings. There is a time-proven approach to this: Begin to admit the fact that our understandings involving ourselves and our place in the world have come to the end of the line…only an abyss yawns before us; that our actions are no longer viable, thus we must risk exposure to novelty. Naturally, grief will come with the letting go of shopworn habits and the death of cherished illusions; although, a rebirth of wonder and a renewal of vision will arrive as well.

“Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.”

― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, from Crime and Punishment

On an historical basis, those who cling to the exhausted verities of this fading epoch will be viewed in a comparable light to those obtuse denizens of the 16th Century who refused to let go (and ruthlessly strove to make miserable — or worse — those who challenged prevailing cultural illusions) of the fallacy of the ‪Geocentric model of the universe. Like their Flat-Earther forbearers, our present day virtuosos of denial (e.g., climate change skeptics and capitalist rah-rahs) their names and their demented dogmas will, in years to come, become axiomatic of hubris, denial, and catastrophic conceit.  ‬

When an individual clings to pride-petrified notions about himself, he is being held in the thrall of the viewpoint of a person who no longer exists; in the same way, when one parrots nationalistic platitudes, one dwells on a mental basis in a country that does not exists, and, in fact, never did.

The nations of the earth are teeming with people who dwell in The Land Of Never Was. (Shortly, these traits will be on grotesque, flag-waving, spandex-clad display during the coming Olympic games.)

The world is in constant flux and our understanding of it can never be wholly accurate. However, this does not mean we’re absolved from making the attempt, and we should not allow a convenient cynicism to hold us in its dismal thrall. By doing so, we diminish our lives and by extension the world.

To know the world, first, we must resolve to undertake a scrupulous inventory of our own beliefs and intentions, both on display and veiled deep within. Transformation begins to unfold as the result of an honest apprehension of one’s situation; tragedy descends from the habitual avoidance of doing so.

Still, as waning moments flow into the waxing present, change comes to pass, by means of a single new apprehension by a single individual.

A number of years ago, a man, a recovering drunk, told me what circumstances led him to cast aside the bottle. Most mornings, he said, in the grip of a hangover, to prevent his wife and young children from hearing his sounds of retching, he would slip from the house in order to vomit. It was his habit to shuffle to the backyard, drop to his knees, and, obscured by a row of scrub brush, he would do the deed.

One morning, while in the midst of his grim routine, he heard a rustling to his right. There, on his knees beside him, knelt his three year old son…imitating his father’s actions. Stricken with shock and anguish, the man vowed that he would not bequeath this legacy to his son.

Often, the knowledge that our selfish actions are placing those we love at risk can jolt us into awareness…can serve as a catalyst for change. In a universal sense, at this perilous juncture for humankind, it is imperative that we begin to love the world with the ardor, compassion, and sense of responsibility that rises within when looking upon the face of things beloved. We must embrace this task, because our planet, due to the blindness and selfishness inherent to late capitalism, is in deep trouble.

“Love is stronger than death and harder than hell”

-Meister Eckhart

Large numbers, perhaps even the majority of people of the nation, have applied their energies and talents to avoiding change; they labor, moment by moment, day by day, to construct and dwell within a mundane, confining architecture that passes for normalcy. These types see change as a home invasion. They stand dour and vigilant, armed to their clinched teeth, guarding over their accouterments of mammon. Winged Liberty herself is seen as a demon, borne from Hell on leathery wings.

Pay little mind to their little minds. Write your story across eternal skies, as you put one foot in front of the next, sojourning in the direction of meaning. Yes, you’ll pass many of these poor souls as you proceed along, and they will detest you. Your mere presence threatens to reveal to them what they have forsaken in the name of safety…that their conception of what is normal, sane, decent, and patriotic has deadened their spirit. By merely passing by, you threaten to stir up the dust of their desiccated hearts.

To emerge from the imprisonment of habitual thought…is to set forth into an uncertain world, to allow your heart to be pierced by time’s arrow.

It is through this wound — that is the womb bearing your rebirth — you will reemerge into life. You will navigate this novel landscape…learning its roads, paths and landmarks, and, as time passes, you will not only accept the reality that you cannot return to the irretrievable past, but you will be mortified at the very thought of being re-entombed in it.

Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at: phil@philrockstroh.com

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