Of Meds And Mendacity

by Phil Rockstroh

December 1, 2003


As of late, Secretary of State Colin Powell has been lying awake at night, staring bug-eyed at the ceiling. We learn this from a recent item culled from The Washington Post, published on November 10, 2003 ("A Memorial to Politics," by Al Kamen, page A23):

"Powell described his killer schedule in an interview Thursday with Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed, a reporter for a London-based Saudi newspaper. 'So do you use sleeping tablets to organize yourself?' Al-Rashed asked. 'Yes. Well, I wouldn't call them that,' Powell said. They're a wonderful medication -- not medication. How would you call it? They're called Ambien (zolpidem tartrate), which is very good. You don't use Ambien? Everybody here uses Ambien.'"

One can surmise, without the aid of medication, Mr. Powell would lie in bed, agitated and sleepless, restlessly tossing about upon sweat-sodden sheets... if not, pacing the creaking floor, draped in a dingy bathrobe, muttering at the vertigo-inducing wallpaper.

Perhaps the former general's sleeplessness has been engendered by the ghost of his self-slaughtered integrity -- that has been attempting to rise from its grave to howl lamentations and to drag heavy chains of guilt up from the cellar of his subconscious.

If the pharmaceutical ball-gag of Ambien is removed, the ghost would rasp to the shame-stricken Powell, "Is it worth it all... the fame, the high position, the power? The lies that scorch your soul, the blood on your hands, the faces of the dead who rise in your dreams... Do you think it is possible to indefinitely medicate the howling Furies of truth deferred? These Furies will ask you far tougher questions than Britt Hume and Paula Zahn. They are reputed to have razor-sharp teeth, hair that seethes with poison snakes, and are said to hold those who bear false witness as well as those who commit crimes that go unpunished in particular contempt. It would seem you've blundered into double-jeopardy territory there, General. Do you think Ambien can transform these raging Furies into cooing Teletubbies? -- That the right admixture of meds might ameliorate your mendacity? For just how long do you and your brethren in deception in the Bush administration, and, I might add, the whole of your stupefied and corrupt government, as well as, the ignorant mob of stupefied and corrupt citizenry that it reflects, think this situation can go on, unchecked and without consequences? How long do you believe you can go on like this, indefinitely existing in this stupefied and corrupt corporate dystopia of yours, and, in all of your addicted derangement continue to believe that the whole lot of you are living, blameless and innocent, in the fabled Republic of Teletubia -- A demented, collective fantasy that resembles what baby Adolph Hitler's dreams must have looked like when he was given opium-based medication for colic?"

Aldous Huxley, presciently, warned that a corrupt class of elitists might attempt to medicate away discontent and dissent, that the manipulation of neuro-chemistry might allow slaves to accept (even desire) their chains.

This might explain the rise, power and appeal of Rush Limbaugh. The voices of rationalization within an addict's mind are similar to the demagogic and propagandistic narratives that prop up corrupt, autocratic states. Limbaugh's is the voice of the junkie's selfish, self-serving, and self-destructive rationalizations grown to Orwellian proportions, the voice of Newspeak as it might have been written by William Burroughs, in a detox-delirium, dreaming he is George F. Babbitt: Limbaugh's daily, coast-to-coast rants are the Naked Republican Lunch... sans, of course, the brilliant, insectual precision of Burrough's stinging prose, mordant wit, and his unflinching honesty regarding the depravity of himself -- in particular -- and the human race -- in general. (Limbaugh seems to only find such character failings in liberals.)

Since the end of the Second World War, we have seen the unprecedented rise and exponential growth of a number of powerful corporate/governmental empires, within the greater empire, that have, at an accelerating rate, changed the (external and internal) landscape of our lives. Three of these empires, within the empire, are: 1) The national security state, that being a state (in fact -- and -- of the mind) of unceasing surveillance and permanent war; 2) the rise of -- and -- pervasiveness of the electronic mass media, aka The United States of Infotainment; 3) and its client state, in the mission of keeping the general public stupefied and docile, the drug industry, that Hyperborean kingdom, existing just beyond the harsh winds of governmental regulation and icy medical scrutiny, known as the Realm of Pharmatopia (not to be confused with The Republic of Teletubia, which is the child's version of the kingdom, which technically exists within The United States of Infotainment, but is easily accessible by traveling the Ritalin Expressway).

The forces of the Realm the Pharmatopia has subtly seized power over us; this silent coup d'état has usurped the messy, clamorous republic of our spirit and established a stultifying, national security state of the mind in its place. We have been complicit in this crime against our hearts and souls: For we wish to be protected from any degree of dissatisfaction, to be shielded from all regret, tumult, and sorrow. The corporate cabalists of Pharmatopia will readily capitalize on our infantile fantasies of absolute invulnerability: They will provide us with the false sense of security (that authoritarian states always promise to an anxious and ignorant populace) by sending in wave after stupefying wave of shock-troop prescriptions of sleeping pills and SSRIs.

For they have learned: If they can induce us to cease despairing about our condition -- then we won't agitate to change it. If they achieve this objective, the Pharmatopians will have won their preemptive war against the symptoms -- not the source -- of the type of personal and social discontentment that can give rise to creative dissent. Then: Don't ask, don't tell what we have lost, nor mourn (nor even notice) the death of those vital aspects of our selves that would have rallied against the soul-defiling tyrannies of the present era, but instead died, unacknowledged and unnoticed, as a result of this pharmacological putsch launched against the vital and imaginative (yet concomitantly chaotic and confused) free republic of our psyches, only to have their remains secretly shipped to the covert morticians of this thanatotic empire, who methodically zip them into "transfer tubes," then dispatched them to obscure graveyards where they are buried without ceremony.

If on a sleepless night, we were to leave our homes and go into the Ambien-befogged hours of darkness in order to visit the neglected graveyard where truth and integrity lie moldering in shallow, unmarked graves, and perhaps, if we were to still our fears and attempt to listen closely, we might hear the Furies raging, howling bitter admonitions to the tormented ghost of Colin Powell's conscience: "You people in official Washington are taking sleeping pills -- when you should be given truth serum. At the very least, you should just try to get honestly drunk, just crack open a pint of Irish whiskey -- then rage with antagonistic truths like a Eugene O'Neal protagonist. What's with all these wimpy, half-measures? You act like some ninny, nineteenth century matron taking secretive swigs of her cocaine-based 'tonic' and claiming it's medicine.

"Why not seek a truly bold high: How about stripping naked, concocting for yourself an angel dust/Zima high-colonic enema, and then administering it to yourself as you hang-glide off the Washington Monument? At least, this insane and reckless act would be an honest, outward expression of your insane and reckless policies and their consequences. Your policies have caused soaring deficits, environmental destruction for the sake of short-term profits, military adventurism that drains the nation of blood and resources, and, like the flight of a hang glider piloted by a junky on an angel dust/Zima enema bender, it will drop shit upon anything in its path -- before the whole craven and demented undertaking comes crashing down to earth."

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Published December 1, 2003
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