Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I Can See Clearly Now

I can see it now very clearly. Something inside me has shifted around making this view possible, and now it would be very difficult to reverse this particular perception. (Or would it?)
I look at the posters spread over the tile walls of the noisy cafeteria, gaze outward at the careful arrangement of certain products at the registers of the department store. My eyes take in the moving reminders of an impending holiday, blue rabbits in orange helicopters to remind me that I need to buy jelly beans, lots of multicolored jelly beans and little plastic eggs in neon colors to stuff them in. It all enters my system, impulses transmitted by my retina to my central nervous system to be processed by my brain with lightening speed and alarming simplicity of purpose.
I see all of the things that they want me to see. I want all of the things that they want me to want, but I can see them too, the master puppeteers behind the artificial need. The shelves of gum and three dollar toys and lip gloss and tissue and gift cards, all take on a sinister hue.
I recall a video preserved in the Prelinger Archives entitled Why We Respect The Law. It teaches that respect for the law is the foundation of democracy and freedom. That movie, like these carefully arranged dangling posters, are made to mold us into an obedient and easy to manipulate shape.
I can see THEM hunched around smoky tables, grinning through sharpened teeth, THEY make the laws, not for themselves, but for us. The laws are there so that they can break them and take whatever they want from us while we behave as we’ve been trained to behave. They pour a dose of “respect the law” and “be a good neighbor” and “upright citizen” down our throats so that they can take advantage of that conditioned response which they have cultivated in the consumer, in the good human being.
Everything that I am is as artificial as my beverage. The particular arrangement of the many programs my system runs may be slightly unique, as unique as the results of various tie died experiments, but despite the arrangement, the programs, the basic colors that make me, were made by others, inadvertently, others very intentionally.
So I sit and I sip and I know that everything that attracts me, everything that repels me, does so for superficial reasons. There are so many different “me's" forming unions and corporations to compete for dominance over my apparent form, and no one of these identities or coalitions of identities can claim that it is the one true “me”. Right and wrong, good and bad, what I want, what makes me happy, what I hate, what I love, these notions are all nothing, sawdust in the mouth, a sign that I am a marionette.
I see this and I ask, which one is the one that I want to make the center? Which “me” should be the ring leader, and how is it any less superficial than all the others? It is just another choice over which various impulses will negotiate and the most skillful negotiator will win.
Then I will say that there is a reason that I am what I am and do what I do, but all of these things are determined in the same way that it is determined which dog at the foot of the table will get the bone, and some nights one dog is hungrier and quicker than the rest and on other nights it’s a different dog. I see it and I finish my sweet syrupy beverage and go out into the cold windy afternoon, beyond the glass doors and theft detecting sensors and security guards dressed in authoritative navy blue.

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