Confronting The Towering Lies Of Empire: A Eulogy

by Phil Rockstroh

July 19, 2004   


"Power, greed and corruptible seed seem to be all there is"
—Bob Dylan, Blind Willie McTell
"Honestly, I think we should just trust our President in every decision that he makes and we should just support that. You know? And, um, be faithful in what happens."
—Britney Spears

(Swans - July 19, 2004)  Our political leaders and corporate overlords promised to keep us safe -- so they constructed for us an impregnable tower of lies... Within which, they have provided us with cable and satellite TV access... to distract us from the soul-numbing tedium of our confinement.

They have advised us never to venture outside of the tower's protective walls... for beyond the safe confines of the tower stretches a forbidding wilderness of ambiguity through which there is no guarantee of safe passage.

Inside the tower, everything we could possibly need and desire is at our twitching, TV remote-happy fingertips. From enactments of explicit porn on one channel, to explicit re-enactments of pornographic Christian prophecy on another -- we can transmigrate from fake sin to phony salvation, in an instant.... What else in the whole of boundless creation could we possibly want?

And for our being provided with these comforts and accommodations -- the only rent we must pay... is this: It is mandated that we make unceasing payments to them, our munificent masters of the ruling elite -- using the scarce currency of the time we have been allotted in this finite world -- for the duration of our mortal lives.... It's a very simple deal: We give them the precious hours of our lives and they keep us sheltered from the unsettling psychic storms we seed suppressing the knowledge of all the things we have forsaken by said transaction.

And here we exist... an insect trapped behind a window pane. The major difference between us and the bug being: The insect wants to escape into the world beyond.... The eternity of a summer day is spread manifest beyond the imprisonment of glass.

Of course: If a fly does manage to escape the confinement -- chances are great -- it, most likely, will proceed to the first pile of dung it comes upon... Freedom often has the same effect on the rest of us as well... If you doubt it -- simply checkout the charts of pop music.

A fly could be buzzing around an open air concert where Mozart is being performed -- and its only concern is zeroing in on a streaming mound of dog shit.

This begs the question: What sublime music surrounds us every moment of everyday that we do not hear because we're so distracted by the permeating allure of so much pervasive shit?

Yet: Our universe is constructed of tiny particles of subatomic quanta -- and, according to the latest scientific ditties, these particles are, perhaps, themselves composed of vibrating strings.... A soothing thought: The cosmos is a symphony of exquisite musical notes, a symphony of supra-truths, playing for us as we mindlessly buzz around dung heaps of lies... We exist in an expansive cosmos of omni-realities where it is not required that we imprison ourselves within belief systems based on monolithic "TRUTHS." Instead: Our realities more closely resemble the mind of a musical genius who is composing endless variations on what is true: extemporaneously true like a Coltrane riff...or emotionally true like a Billie Holiday song...or as tragically true as in an overturn by Mahler...or as joyously true as Louis Armstrong singing Cole Porter.

Our lives hang in air like musical notes. At times, we lilt skyward like a Mahalia Jackson song... Then we drift downward toward the terrestrial tragedies of a Leadbelly Ballad. Simply: The hours of our existence are composed of and by beauty. They need not be constructed of the mortar of mendacity; because, we are waking upon, standing upon, and sleeping upon the veracity of music.

We are the fly who dreamed Mozart.

From time to time, we flame-out like Elvis Presley -- but, like Bob Dylan, we are forever re-inventing ourselves and are reborn like a new universe, created by the singularity of a collapsing star.

The vibrations created by these cords of numinous music can cause towering lies to collapse.

Why do you think Clear Channel pushes the likes of gum-smacking, soul-dead Britney Spears and all the other empty vessels of the moment? They have been safety-tested to pose no threat to the spirit-stultifying towers of the consumer state. They are purveyors of the spurious revelries of empty sensation -- a mood music for slaves of the corporatist empire -- a joyless noise produced to drown-out the eternal gospel choir that exhorts us toward freedom.

While Britney Spears's music cajoles the enslaved multitudes to clink together their shackles in time -- the notes emanating from Charlie Parker's alto sax will turn those chains to dust. Upon being freed, we have a choice: We can buzz around the manure of habitual thought -- or ride the A-Train with Duke Ellington uptown and arrive at a Harlan Renaissance of the heart.

But first we should hold a New Orleans-style funeral, replete with a blaring jazz band and scat-singing mourners, for the hours, days, months, years, and decades of our ephemeral lives that died of neglect from being locked away within the life-denying towers of our fears.

And over their graves -- I will eulogize this prayer of lamentation:

Today, in this eternal moment, I have come bearing deep regret; because, I come to make amends to all the exquisite things, senselessly obliterated by the din of my insectual buzzing...

I come to create an epitaph in lasting air: for friendships lost beneath oceanic contretemps, for dream animals addled into extinction by cataclysmic alarm clocks, for a million moments neglected in the pursuit of petty obsessions and for the folly of my relentless surrendering to tiny, time-annihilating agendas, for flights of grandeur that were scuttled for the scrupulous acquisition of piffle and waylaid by my shallow enrapturement with all things obvious, safe and readily available.

This is my prayer of atonement: to seeds not planted, to Tolstoyian narratives ignored on every street corner, to the unknown universes bypassed by my carefully mapped, never wavering journeys through the tedious city of my habitual self-reference.

I offer this libation of fermented regret to all the raging ghosts haunting the soulless towers of lost potential.

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US Elections & Democracy on Swans

America the 'beautiful' on Swans


Phil Rockstroh on Swans (with bio).

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Published July 19, 2004
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