Citadels of Paranoia: An Occupation by Phantoms

The frantic fear-mongering of American culture – Russians, North Koreans, Iranians, the Others are out to get us – has generated an alienation that fuels violence, globally and in random acts of murder, writes poet Phil Rockstroh.

By Phil Rockstroh

The bad news is we have been deluged with bad, even mortifying, news, and for such an extended period of time, the mind reels in bafflement as the spirit sinks. Despair seems an apt response to events one cannot reconcile, of circumstances of which one cannot gain perspective nor control.

The classic neon sign welcoming visitors to Las Vegas.

“The only sadnesses that are dangerous and unhealthy are the ones that we carry around in public in order to drown them out with the noise; like diseases that are treated superficially and foolishly, they just withdraw and after a short interval break out again all the more terribly; and gather inside us and are life, are life that is unlived, rejected, lost, life that we can die of.” ? Rainer Maria Rilke, excerpt from Letters to a Young Poet

Depression can be a compensatory response to the inherently manic nature of capitalist dominance of every aspect of life in late modernity. The affliction knocks you on your ass and keeps you there until the psyche can find a better means of using the agency of libido, which, under the extant corporate/consumer/surveillance state panopticon has been usurped.

Under the system’s economic despotism and attendant anomie and alienation, one’s longings, more often than not, do not lead to the connecting eros of a life-enhancing vocation or deepening interpersonal encounters but only as a vehicle that hijacks one’s life into the service of a soul-crushing system, wholly designed to exploit every moment of this fleeting life for the benefit of an overclass of parasites, a klavern of vampires and ghouls.

Depression is the soul’s way of saying, to paraphrase the Vietnam-era antiwar chant, “Hell no, I won’t go.”

Alienation is an apt response to negotiating a soulless landscape. Where is the eros in Big Box/strip-mall encounters? The ad hoc architecture of the consumer culture, which manages to be both utilitarian and…

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