gapping out

1 06 2009

kids 159 When we were kids Dear World we had a game we called ‘Cat and mouse’ One kid was designated the mouse and stood about fifty yards in front of the cats  facing away from them. The cats had to advance on the mouse and touch him without the mouse turning suddenly and catching them in motion. If the mouse saw a cat moving the cat had to go back to the starting line and begin anew. Up here on the  mountain it is a bit like cat and mouse both in spring and in fall. When there are no leaves on the trees you can see much further into the forest. Then suddenly the trees come out into leaf and it seems that the whole forest has advanced  much closer . In the fall the reverse occurs—the leaves fall and suddenly the cleared space in front of you seems much larger and deeper until it snows and then it all steps forwards again. It is an amazing thing to witness.  And it happened two or three days ago. I had to go to town and as I descended from the hills the fields were green. When  I returned home that night all the fields were blue. The wild lupines  had all opened during that one day, and when I arrived home the forest had closed in on me. I found myself just gazing at the close greenness of the trees… gapping out. I can remember gapping out as a school kid— hours of gapping out. I wonder what a graph would look like if gapping out was charted alongside  other survival activities—eating , copulating, dancing and so on. My present gap-out wandered into self evaluation. What was its purpose? What was the purpose of anything? I have been thinking , as I frequently do, about the global economic system and how enormous amounts of human activities for which people are paid money are utterly useless by any criteria except that they qualify the doer to receive money. Literally billions of plastic doo-dads and knick-knacks are daily pouring out of China and other countries- products which serve no purpose whatever except that they earn the manufacturers distributors, shopkeepers money before being thrown onto the  garbage tips. After visiting the local dump once and seeing a  logger emptying his pick-up I wrote a poem called

The Logger

They come 

                raining

                             down

Shining incandescent,

In the morning air,—coffee tables

With folding legs,toasters,

Habachis,T.V’s,digital clocks,

Skidoos,Barbecues,Bicycles,Candelabras,–

Flashing and necessary as breath they

Tumbled into his life, now transforming

Magically, as they crash,back,

Into the great old trees

That Big John the logger

Was laying flat a dozen a minute

With his brand new machine,

The motor screaming to keep up

The hydraulics and the lights for

Twenty-four hour operation, opening

Yet another wound in the raped hills

Of Chase, pillaged time and again

By loggers, those dirty boys of the woods,

Running demented by fantasies

Of the great good fortune and feeling

That’ll engulf  them, during

Those fleeting moments, before

The forest’s plundered wealth

Turned into trash, courtesy

The friendly local banks and

Department stores. and goes raining,

                                                Down,

Shining

Incandescent into the local dump-

Coffee tables with folding brass legs

Toasters,Habachis, T.V.’s, Skidoos,digital

Clocks, Barbecues,Bicycles, Candelabras,-

Flashing and necessary as

Exhalation. And Big John, kicking it all out

The back of his pickup, catches

Both fantasies falling for a second,

tells himself another lie and goes,

Back up to his battleground

In the shattered hills,

                              on his way

                                            Down.

But in fact we’re all complicit. I write on paper and live in a house made of wood—though eighty percent of it is recycled. And Big John is a nice guy doing his best to feed and house his wife and kids. And so are they all. All honourable men* But between us, they  and  I are making a mess of our world. What is the answer. More importantly perhaps, what’s the question? Still when you begin examining the utility of human behaviour it immediately becomes apparent that a very large percentage of humanity today is intimately and seriously involved in utterly useless behaviour every day of their lives and regard their activities as vitally important, though, given their ‘druthers’, they would not be doing those things. Does it not stagger the imagination, Dear World, to ponder awhile on the enormity of the multitudes of humanity who spend every day doing things they don‘t value enough to perform without the coercion of money? Now, stand up all those who wouldn’t go to work if they won the big lottery. Now you people leave the room. At the door please answer a simple little form which asks a simple little question. ‘ Are you wasting your life? Yes or No? Now who is left in the room? Hmmm! Not many. A handful  or artists of various ilks who are possibly seriously confused about everything, some scientists, some terminal addicts to curiosity and some prostitutes who will soon have lost their calling to newly released competition. Somehow however humanity has confused the simple utility of money as a barter surrogate and come to regard it as the desired things themselves. When the relationship of money to humans is viewed more closely it is not an exaggeration to compare it with the relationship between humans and heroin or nicotine use. But money has been with us almost as long as our records of societies themselves. There is no way that THAT genie is going to be put back in the bottle regardless of the charges against it. Nevertheless for most of humanity to wander around declaring that they enjoy their jobs and then running like lemmings for their real desires at four o’clock on Friday is a collective self delusion of a global magnitude. The entire fiscal system depends upon the most massive universal confusion and auto deception with the result that people in all seriousness tell you that they want jobs when in fact what they want is money. If it was jobs that they wanted there would be no work hours, no unions, no labor bargaining and no distinctions between week days and week ends. The very words would not exist.  What we call globalization is in fact simply capitalism and capitalism has one criterion—one absolute. That absolute is that money must move because when it moves those who are moving it can nibble bits of it and gain what they are not otherwise entitled to. ( Though with astonishing leger-de-main they quote the activity of nibbling to justify the action of nibbling) Mixed in amongst all this confusion is the existence of those activities that are vital to our survival—growing of food, building of homes, caring for the sick, elderly and young ad infinitum. It is in contemplating these kinds of gilt edged activities that the difficulty of understanding our economics becomes manifest  because everyone, literally everyone, is complicit. Almost without limitation even the most handicapped among us are assisted in becoming wage earners.   Their very self image and dignity depends on it, and in being trained by people whose self image and respect depend on training them they become part of the process of moving money so that others can nibble bits of it. The reason for money is money. So why in the name of all that is holy should we stir up this murky pool to see what is living down there? We approach a time when every living human will have a job or be trying to get one. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? It is a marvellous system, exquisitely tuned, shaped through thousands of years like a stalactite, drip by drip. You move to the city, you find a job. You get up early and go to work until four thirty and then you run home through the rush of escaping slaves. The city will, in return , provide a safe environment for your family, give you all you need in the way of shelter, food, entertainment, social and health services and take all the money back, or most of it.  What could be better? There , in the sacred and mysterious theatre  of the Deity of Money we  strut and fret our hour upon the stage and then are heard no more*. At death our relatives gather briefly to tell everyone who will listen that the  idiot’s tale we told* was told magnificently and then it is all over. The system itself is full of traps and holes and surprises. The richest are not always the happiest , though as Eartha Kitt famously declared they can at least choose their own miseries. For every rung on the economic ladder there is an appropriate rationalization helping us see it as the topmost rung. Words are as slippery as eels and even hallowed words like ‘freedom’ and ‘happiness’ and ‘slavery’ can be shuffled, conjugated, and  redefined to ease the sadness shame and misery of the most subjugated slave and turn the most squalid of a failed existences into a glittering story of triumph. As the Bellman in Caroll’s Hunting of the Snark put it  “Whatever I say three times must be right.” And it is. Therefore  let me ask again Dear World . Why should  we stir that murky pool? But our dreams Dear World. Our beautiful glittering dreams that will never see the light of day because of the rapacious hand of Money holding us to the plough, the hand which thinks that trading five sevenths of our lives for two for us is a fair trade. What do you think of them and of that deal, Dear World? Do animals, birds spend that much time on survival? Well yes, it is true, animals don’t go to movies or the ballet. So maybe if all the benefits are added up and compared with the disadvantages isn’t the forfeiture of dreams for security, food and a new bike for little Jonnie/Joanie a reasonable deal? But it isn’t that simple, unfortunately. In the first place the economic system isn’t static. It is by definition movement, so the contract is forever changing itself without out explicit permission or understanding, and secondly gangs of nibblers get together and buy up living space and rent it back to us week by week. I say ‘back to us’ because land, space, was once communal. ‘Well that’s the way the world is. Stop sniveling and get a job” say the nibblers. ‘The success of our species is a Darwinian pageant of triumph of the most resounceful, industrious and smartest. Meritocracy! Such is the nature of ‘improvement, progress, prosperity, evolution’ ( all ‘good words’, implicitly  favouring human life today  compared    with that of yesterday,—of today’s ‘democracy’ with yesterdays ‘feudalism’). Back then we worked the fields and farms for our meagre sustenances and took a proportion  of our crops to the houses of the Lords who owned the lands. Now we work each day in factories and offices and take a portion of our earnings to the Lords (banks and credit houses) who own the lands and houses. Hmmmm! The more things change the more they stay the same. What have we lost? Silence, tranquility? Aach! time enough for those when we’re dead! ‘say the nibblers.But there problems, are there not? Mankind, bound up with money like a tree with a vine, grows towards perfection and our own divinity where Deity is seen as imperfection but , like us, forever moving towards perfection and nearer than we. But money is profoundly amoral while the the steps we take towards Divinity are of neccessity moral. These are the personal and communal steps of character refinement, understanding the laws of Kharma and spiritual growth and wisdom. Money on the other hand has radical divergences from this path built into it’s very nature. The most obvious one is of course it’s inevitable polarizations of wealth which can only lead eventually to bloody internecine revolution. Already there are many people who are more wealthy than many entire countries. How long before the suffering people in those countries learn that the system is incorrigible and decide like Che, that Revolution, change,  grows out of the barrel of a gun. In the meantime, in our own countries money is so poorly distributed that the arts are suffering even whilst the nibblers are defining the glories of their respective cultures by pointing to the arts and culture as shining integers of our civilization.Hmm!  More counter productivity! One step closer.Two steps back. Allow me to gap out on this awhile, Dear World. I must be lacking in I.Q. I still don’t understand it and sometimes it seems as though the world is stepping much closer like the cats, or is it that the vine is squeezing the tree much harder.In the meantime, here is a photo of my dandelions. Aren’t they beautiful? About them I have no dilemmas.

 

kids 159

dandelion

When I was a child I cried when my daddy cut the heads

Off the dandelions in our lawn

And demanded in my childish voice

That he restore the brief paradise

That I had just seen killed.

Now I am a man and, 

I still cry for slaughtered dandelions

Beheaded in the height of Spring

For the crime of bringing their exotic blooms

Through three hundred and sixty five days

To this gratuituous rendez-vous.

But now my voice is strong

To cry aloud the enemy’s name!

Let me make my affiliations patently clear.

I am on the side of the dandelions!

Monarch of flowers that out suns the sun.

Yellow queen, wine maker, salad giver

Heart warmer, meal and beverage in a

Pointillism of gold. You are my riches,

And this is my obligation-

To tell the world “Keep yr’ bloody

Murdering hands off my friends

The dandelions, and try’n imagine

How you’d feel if you travelled a year

To meet someone who cut off your head,

Doused you with chemicals and

Thrashed you with whips!”Yet

Still they keep on coming

Ducking under the whirling blades

To evolve altered genes with

A mower avoidance chromosome…

Oh Wonderflower! Parachute maker!

Mistress of land and air!

I salute you this yellow day

Of spring with my astounded love,

And wait for you each spring

At this appointed tryst.

——————00————————–

And lest we forget—the forget-me-nots

 

kids 160

*Shakespeare, of course.

For now, farewell, Dear World with love and hugs.(and daandelions)

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2 responses

10 06 2009
Dorian

Nice ramble pops…you should leave more white space in your writing to give the reader a rest and help separate your thoughts more – Just a suggestion. It was nice to read your poems again.

Cheers,
Dorian

10 06 2009
lauriepayne

Good point well taken, D. One of many things I knew andforgot.

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