Thursday 2 October 2008

Duplicity - Part Two: Me, My Priest, My Society

I've intended to use this opportunity at CRUSHED By INGSOC to present a series of related articles, not as an outlet for poetry. But my attention has been absorbed of late by somewhat of a family crisis. For the sake of expedience I present today's ideas in poetic form.

This Self

An idea lies in my head
It seems to always have been here.
And the same idea lies there on the lips
Of every tall creature I meet.

This idea is this:
That I am me.
That I am myself;
One singular entity.

But every day this idea erodes;
Chip by chip it crumbles.

Were I so simple
Were we each so consolidated
Then why are all in such internal conflict?
Why have none mastered their own head?
Why should that task prove impossible?

Every night the man in charge says
I will do such things in the morning
And every morning the man in charge
Says No, I will do this instead.
They sound not even like the same man
They speak not with the same voice.

Why should I not have the power
To whisk back the curtain
And see the man behind it
If indeed that man were myself?

Instead I hear whispers;
Agents and agencies,
Colonies of brain cells,
Cities of microbes,
High councils and committees,
Tides of shifting influence.

At times I can just about hear the voices,
Making deals behind my back.

So where did that idea stem from?
That idea of I?

Is it a fantasy preserving the illusion of sanity?
Perhaps no, it is not so diabolical.
Perhaps the society that is me
Would seem so homogenous
Because all the fuss below,
All the conferences behind the curtains
Fall upon my inner ear
Like distant highway drone,
Like static on a phone,
Just white noise,
Because I do not know their languages.

The Most Peculiar Meaning of Meaning

While the ideas serving most usefully,
While the deeds most noble; benign to do,
While the creditable purposes in our living,
And objectives most rewarding to pursue
Are in all honest reckoning the very same
Whether mankind may be the most influential
And intelligent beast in all hard or heavenly terrain
Or whether a god bears instead such credentials,
Whatever good purpose can lie in the debating
Over who is responsible for all this creating?

For victory resides beyond grasp of either side,
While the argument serves only to tragically divide
And run all astray from our miraculous destiny.

Still men before altars cease not their cry
In voices commanding; resonance essential,
That the existence of ultimate meaning lies
Not in the life of the most influential
And intelligent beast in all known terrains
But in that of its adoring house pet.

You can only deal with what’s before your face and the life you’re given is no use at all if you burn it up in hate. – Bruce Cockburn


Look back now, way back
At pliable minds and tribes of gods
And the worship of kings and queens and heroes,
At the burning of women marked witches,
At cultural pedagogical sodomy,
At boys sent away to kill or to die in equal horror
For the sake of a stretch of grass,
At heartless feudalistic slavery,
At the torture of innocents so to fill the gallows,
At Nazi genocide (never again!),
At cotton fields,
At a gender made the property of another.

What do you say?
Would you congratulate yourself for our superior humanity?
Would you wonder how they wouldn’t know better;
How they could be so stupid?

But could none of them have known better?
Or perhaps, did many?
Oh, but were they just trapped?
And were they just confused?
Ever pushed to action and not to thought
By the forces of their societies
And the forces of their critical instincts,
So treacherously linked?

Blind acceptance in the name of learning,
Testimony in the name of truth,
Cheap tricks in the name of wisdom,
Lame excuses in the name of logic,
Drivel of village idiots in the name of art,
Endless distraction in the name of culture.

A prison in the name of community,
A constant assault laying beautiful brains to waste.

So when they look back, way back
At pliable minds and solitary gods
And the worship of silver-tongued statesmen
And Hollywood clowns,
At blind hatred of skin pigment or un-chosen loving affections,
At endless layers of tribal insanities,
At boys sent away to kill or to die in equal horror
For the sake of imaginary demons,
At the torture of innocents so to fill our bellies,
At third-world genocide (never again?),
At heartless corporate slavery,
At the endless proliferation of lies! Lies! Lies!
At families lined up, glossy eyed,
Three generations deep,
Sucking, ever sucking on glass tubes,
At all the grand dirty machines
Sucking, ever sucking on oil
In this Age of Oil; this Age of the Sucker,
At the systematic raping of our granddaughters
By mortgaging the lifeblood of their Earth,
At you, yes YOU!
At ME!

At that time, my tears long dried
Will they congratulate themselves for their humanity
Or wonder how we did not know better;
How we could have been so stupid?

And how could we?

Oh, but are we just…?
And are we just…?
Ever pushed…

Born of it.
Fed to it.
A matrix omnipresent;
Too overwhelming even to glimpse.
Quick! Don’t do the math.

Just turn the page.


Anonymous said...

Poetry is cool...

'Instead I hear whispers;
Agents and agencies,
Colonies of brain cells,
Cities of microbes,
High councils and committees,
Tides of shifting influence.'

Which, of course, is any biologist will tell you is a good description of any eukaryote life form. We think we are individuals, but we're more an alliance of co-operative cells.

Our memory prserves the illusion that self is real. But those things happened to parents of the cells that now compose us- the cells our earliest memories happened to are dead.

The second verse was almost a cry for existentialism against a world which fights so hard to know its future- apt perhaps in a week when all around us the world is slowly realising 'the buggers running us haven't a clue'. Tomorrow has never been less certain.

Your third verse sums it up perfectly.

Yes, it IS a matrix, a construct created by the winners of history. Who will be tomorrows losers.

Each age is built up of a series of paradigms- the events and the people that brought about the world of today.

Will we one day see the Blairs and the Bushes much as we see Cardinal Wolsey?

As a species, we're only just pasing out of childhood into adolescance, I think.

Anonymous said...

Me, myself.. and I, thought this was an interesting post. Careful you don't find yourself looking over your own shoulder.

Sometimes it seems we are quite plastic in our wants, likes needs, other times like we are set in stone. Strange...

Anonymous said...

I haven't written poetry in ages; the other night my son asked to see what I've done. It blew him away. I understand how sometimes you just need to say it in this form. I wish you well.