of The Dissolution.
By Ebenezer Baldwin Bowles
May 12, 2002, at 1515 hours CDT.
Conway, Arkansas, USA
In a pit behind the aquarium he found a scrap of paper, author unknown; scribbled 'neath a date, September 18, 2001:
Again, again, again: no end to the repetition.... On the backside of his night eyes are streaky images of stolen jets, crashing into one tower, then into its twin; Romulus and Remus are slain by Goths of The Dissolution.
Seven days of tears from the she-wolf mother cannot douse the fires.
Each new line of dissent raises the necessity of guilt, the desire to qualify and apologize. In a time of plenty, what use is the revolutionary?
In a shallow sea of flattened surfaces, why bother to dive? Why forfeit his sense of ease and comfort with the act of penetration? Why bother to launch earnest probes into the darkly depths of The Dissolution when the only conceivable explanations are either blasphemous or profane?
"It Will Make Us Laugh."
The sober major, last surviving veteran of the Boer War, is the oldest soldier on a wretched planet. On the seventh night of the wake he seeks to unbind the spirit of camaraderie from its humorless cage of shock and remorse. "It will make us laugh," he whispers as he distributes posters of the Wanted Man. Beneath the caricature are sly, vulgar captions with intimations of vengeance and retribution.
Wanting to laugh, I do. My laughter is the piteous, hollow chuckle of the forlorn. I would prefer the belly laugh, the kind of volcanic release that arises from the gut to carry away bile and venom. Listen! Can you hear the decrepit major's deep roar? He stands in the shadows of far-away death, demanding solace, but the far-away dead are strangers all; the absence of shared blood and neighborly familiarity dissipates the terror.
Between the scrap's creation and the scrap's discovery, a pause of seasons befell the land and the aquarium. The passing away of fish merited little notice. Pause. Pass away.
Jingoists dance without restraint now, dance to the symphony of fear. I will get there, to the end — eventually. Shall we?
I am curious about the union known as We, the mystery of its existence. Do you, too, rely upon We for meaning?
The Heartland and the Megalopolis.
How intricately linked is the sparse heartland of flatlanders and hillbillies to the glittering coastal megalopolis of urbanites and sophisticates? What matters the diligence of the woodpecker, or the musky taste of the fig, to a populous permanently severed from natural law?
One pocket of synthesized oxygen and old dust provided uneasy haven to his desire to belong to the Union, to be fully connected to the Masses, to be a part of something whole and noble. The pocket, however, was sewn over by the houri seamstress of cynicism. The infantry became the newsroom.
Tell me, would you reveal The Lies if you knew them?
Tell me, what price are you willing to pay for Global Stability?
Trapped without Prejudice.
Knowing, or not knowing, about the carnage in Metropolis — what difference could it make to one insignificant flatlander, who is trapped without prejudice in the Congo of the Bozarth a thousand miles distant from the conflagration?
In the clarity of sudden change a million question marks arise. They march across The Collective like rude cuts and rapid dissolves of commercial video, like bulletins of rage scrolling 'cross the margin, like outbursts of foul temper. Full participation is a mundane agony. Who falls next?
Innocents strike flint to butane, light the thin wicks of wax candles, and sing without accompaniment the lyrics of nationalism. Young now, they pause in their fleeting, diaphanous tracks to marvel at a new mystery wrought by an event so absolute and wending that it stopped them. What is this paper flag on a thin stick? How high shall I wave it? How potent the fireball?
Mere I, and the grizzled old major, the anonymous writer, the mothers of wars and fathers of waters, the conscious others who stand on the precipice of cynicism and dissolution: So what that we understand it? Our understanding produces a discontinued brand of unfortunate knowledge, which shall be eternally marginalized. Yes, I recognize their thirst for adventure; yes, I identify their quest for escape; yes, I codify their desire for shadowy and private validation. So bloody what?
The Riot Squad is Restless.
In stolid opposition, the Elders of the Lumpen Proletariat stand with their troops in ordered clusters on the other side of the precipice. They are the looters and strivers, hungry for booty and power. Soon they must leave the artificial vista to lead their minions on the commute. Their massed throng of besotted consumers are eager to waste more, want not, betake of the greater fantasy. They long to flee the walled villages and locked-down retreats of daily existence, but they have nowhere to go but onward into the commute.
Who among the Lumpen Proletariat can resist the urge to fall, effortlessly and willfully, into the lingering distraction of Nine Eleven's aftermath, where everyone on one side is the hero, and vengeance is pure and clean, and the newsreel is sure to end in time for a full screening of the next all-new-mega-melodrama?
Is it our good versus their evil, or one evil versus another evil? I cannot see clearly enough through the mist of dissolution to know the judgment. I've seen enough of the question marks for today. May the best evil prevail.
WATCH FOR MISSIVE SEVENTY-ONE
Once I wrote
according to a formal deadline.
It worked well enough.
Now I glide in presumptuous luxury,
awaiting communion with a Muse.
She has a name and I know it.
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| ©2002 by David Ebenezer Baldwin Bowles |
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