As America’s Great Middle Class crumbles, the Rich are again grasping for every possible regulatory rollback and tax cut, all the better to fund some final bacchanal of late-stage capitalism, a well-catered cocktail party of aging men and women wearing the false face of Botox, as poet Phil Rockstroh observes.
By Phil Rockstroh
Wall Street is again flush with the electronic facsimile of the stuff once known as money. But this is a Botox Recovery: A superficial procedure, accomplished with a nerve paralyzing poison, reserved for the wealthy whose vanity has driven them to transform their faces into caricatures of corruption … to acquiring a countenance, frozen as a creepy doll, incapable of showing emotion — a grotesque simulacrum of the human face.
A Botox-distorted face reveals an individual with a distorted view of existence: that life’s limits, in this case the process of aging, must be hidden, and by doing so, artifice trumps reality. In a similar manner, life under our current Botoxed economic and political structure seems a gruesome distortion of life itself — a desperate gambit to veil the carnage inflicted by the monstrous excesses of oligarchic and Anthropocene Age exploitation of populace and planet.
Upon seeing the face of a narcissist whose features have been willingly disfigured by Botox, one wonders the obvious: Does he even look in the mirror?
Yes. But, as is the case with the One Percent, he only sees what he is desperate to see. He has succeeded in fooling himself, thus he believes he fools all who have the misfortune to gaze upon him.
A stammered truth is more resonate to the heart than a well-told lie. Unfortunately, a habitually dissembling mindset will view the situation in reverse. All too often, internalized systems of viewing an unfolding event will determine an individual’s take on a given situation.
If the institutions (e.g., familial, religious, governmental, mass media) that have influenced one’s method of perception are themselves compromised by internalized, self-resonating biases, then a type of carnival funhouse mirror effect comes into play (both on an individual and culture-wide basis) whereby distortions reflect distortions that, in turn, reflect those distortions … ad infinitum.
Reality is made grotesque, and gross distortions are perceived as reality. This is why it is essential, on an individual basis, to develop a method of viewing that includes the heart, the gut, and all of one’s senses. A lie only fools the mind; in contrast, truth reverberates throughout one’s entire being.
“All I have is a voice / To undo the folded lie.” — W.H. Auden
At present, only slightly more than 40 percent of the population of the U.S. accepts the verifiable reality of global climate chaos. A constant barrage of propaganda in the form of fake science, contrived and propagated by massive, obscenely wealthy multi-national energy corporations, is one reason for the dismal and still declining number of the populace who cannot discern truth-seeking scientific inquiry from the dissembling of a big money-bribed cadre of hacks and PR flacks.
This development, troubling enough on its own, is emblematic of a larger dilemma. The pervasive false consciousness, engendered by the atomized, artificial nature of existence within the corporate/consumer state — e.g., the Media Age usurping of the innate longings of the human heart by transmuting desire into consumer craving — has not only left consumerist true-believers bereft of the ability to honestly process information — but has rendered all too many unable to locate the source of their own suffering.
It is impossible to sate empty appetite by more empty consumption. Conversely, the hollowness at the core of consumer state anomie can only be remedied by an awakening of the heart.
How does one take this course of action? The answer is neither recondite nor inaccessible: by the time honored methods of grief, gratitude, and embracing an enthusiasm for social and political engagement. At present, the current societal and governmental arrangements give us ample opportunity for practice.
Begin by: grieving for our abuse of the flora and fauna of this living planet; then, grieve for the suffering we bring to ourselves by these callous actions. Because, as long as we believe it is our birthright to exploit the planet, it follows that we will continue to believe it permissible to ruthlessly exploit one another by the same heartless methods.
There is no need for a vengeful god above to punish us for our transgressions … we’re doing just fine on our own. Trudging through life devoid of the warmth bestowed by a compassionate heart amounts to divesting one’s self of soul — i.e., rendering oneself not fully alive within life.
What an awful form of punishment this is: to construct in the place within yourself where your heart should be positioned, a dungeon where you have become both the torturer and the tortured — all ordered by a merciless despot (your willful mind, untempered by the counsel of a compassionate heart) who lords over the wasteland of misapprehensions that you have mistaken for the whole of existence.
Both economic depression and so-called psychological depression are engendered by some of the same sources: clinging to a dying system of belief (such as the death cult of late capitalism) and refusing to embrace the end of things; the gripping grief of one who refuses to honor the dead by the closure provided by a decent burial.
Thus not allowing the departed to rest … engaging them in an obsessive, one-sided conversation … demanding of the dead to do what they cannot do … rise and bring comfort to the living.
Also, depression can originate from being made subject to dehumanizing repression vis-à-vis demeaning forces of exploitation. Often, individuals who are subject to depression, by force of habit, press down anger, imagination, eros – vital sources of propulsion and purpose. Hence, feelings of hopelessness will descend upon the psyche.
Contrary to the highly profitable propaganda of pharmaceutical industry giants, depression, in the vast majority of cases, is not caused by a chemical imbalance. Anti-Depressants serve as palliatives for the demoralized workforce of the capitalist state.
And these compounds are ineffective to boot. Study after study reveals antidepressants (SSRIs, in particular) are no more effective than a placebo. Although, these substances are not as harmless as sugar pills. Withal, anti-depressants are addictive. Withdrawal from these drugs is as painful and dangerous as with any other overused drug.
The neurological model has proven to be a self-serving reductionist fallacy. Regardless of abstruse (demonstrably false) jargon involving neuron receptors, depression is a state of mind — the stuff of subjective imaginings — a means of giving shape to and describing the mysteries of the self and the world.
Once depression (more accurately, sadness or grief or melancholia or ennui or the blues) is accepted as a changeable condition of the multi-verse of the human mind, its grip loosens … One’s grieving soul simply longed for dialog … to leave its decrepit tower (after a necessary period of mourning, of course) and journey among other regions of the psyche; only it, in its isolation, had forgotten how to do so.
If you’re depressed to the point of contemplating suicide, your soul is not advising you to kill yourself … It is suggesting you kill the false consciousness that has tricked you into believing its imprisoning concepts apply to the totality of yourself and to your conception of life. Do not commit suicide; instead, expose and depose the usurper who schemes in the throne room of your heart.
Send out dispatches from both the cityscape of your soul and its most remote regions. Give voice to your spirit’s elations and your heart’s suffering. The sterile nothingscape of depression blooms to vivid life by the embrace of the living images that rise from an open heart. And decaying beliefs make excellent compost.
If not, desperation arrives. For example, the despair-engendered fantasy … of being raptured heavenward, or its secular counterpart … to be relieved of the stress and uncertainties, inflicted by commodified life, by winning the lottery.
Deep within, one realizes that one has little prospect of escaping the stultifying, exploitative nature of the present order; as a consequence, citizens of the corporate state seize upon these desperate fantasies of release from its all-encompassing demands and burdens.
Under late capitalism, people feel imprisoned by their social and financial circumstances; large numbers no longer believe they can change the course of their lives by means of their initiative and labor.
The operatives of the One Percent (the shapers of cultural awareness) are dream twisters … usurpers of yearning. They are well aware that the heart’s language is expressed in the lexicon of transformation … of the deep-dwelling human longing to find the sublime in quotidian experience … a mode of being we term freedom i.e., a desire to have one’s unique character forged by one’s choices in life, as one negotiates the happenstance of unfolding fate.
Lottery mania and End Time fantasies reveal that the central premise of capitalism is a lie. Ergo, people realize under the current set-up that they will never be unburdened financially enough to pursue their heart’s calling … only a highly unlikely spin of Fortuna’s Wheel or a fairy tale-like summoning to a burden-free Heaven will ever set them free.
These are the fantasies of a shattered people — the craven beliefs and palliative remedies that are seized upon by a populace governed by entropy-ridden institutions that have lost any purpose other than self-perpetuation. Therefore, one has to be prepared to act as the structure crumbles.
Accordingly, construct within yourself an authentic inner structure, as outwardly you do your part to help imagine and to create new political and cultural models … In short, act as if the inevitable collapse has already occurred.
Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org . Visit Phil’s website http://philrockstroh.com / And at FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100…