“Life in the hive puckered up my night, / A kiss of death, the embrace of life.” –Television, “Marquee Moon” When we were born, OUR LUNGS INHALED CHAOS, and when our umbilical cords were cut, we traded mothers for motherboards. No longer linked to human wombs, our navels found new nutrition: We...
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2020 Vision: From Blindness to Sight in the Age of CollapseJanuary 8, 2021 by Death to the World
When we were born,“Life in the hive puckered up my night, / A kiss of death, the embrace of life.”
–Television, “Marquee Moon”
OUR LUNGS INHALED CHAOS, and when our umbilical cords were cut, we traded mothers for motherboards. No longer linked to human wombs, our navels found new nutrition: We plugged—as by a USB cable—into the mainframe of a society hypnotized by gadgets, machinery, and glowing screens. This mainframe, this biomechanical machine, devoured our being and with it, the human being. It became our babysitter, our pedagogue, our hero, our sibling, our uncle, our elder, our entertainment: our closest, most sadistic and inhuman friend. Our souls, discounted as little more than the electrochemical firings of blood and flesh, were “processed” (as if it were possible) into mere numeric code, metrics to be bought and sold, traded as commodities. These souls, vandalized into “code” by clever engineers, had been stunned and deluded by a mainframe programmed to supply all bodily satisfaction: The mainframe pacified and distracted by means of sensual pleasure; the mainframe coddled and confused with guarantees of material comfort; the mainframe hissed and hypnotized with some low drone that had us all marching—in lockstep, in single file—to our deaths, first in spirit and last in body.
We were lied to,
AS WE WERE GASPING FOR BREATH in a suffocating world of spiritual, moral, and psychic dislocation. Weaned on lies from birth, we wrongly assumed we were handed all that is necessary for a life of fulfillment. We were narcotized, victimized, and confounded by allegedly sound and scientific solutions to our nagging, ontological distress. We were disoriented by drugs (prescription or illicit) and weaponized entertainment produced by mega corporations that vie and collude to subdue us as unthinking consumer units. We, in ways both witting and unwitting, degraded and downgraded ourselves into an apathetic, senseless people. We, blinded by blind guides and our own paroxysms of selfishness, were left only to speculate about how to think or see clearly. Our asphyxiating world—its phronema, its manner—gave us nothing: no air, no life, no sight. Lies (generated from within and without) had obscured any clear path to stable, coherent knowledge. Common to us and so many was a nihilistic resignation: There seems to be no grand meaning, no larger understanding of what lies beyond this collapsing material life. Subject to lies, we found ourselves trading only in temporal, fleeting answers that rendered us naked and cold. We were made orphans of a society misshapen by collapsing family structures and values. Only vainly did we grope for steadiness, calibration, or any sense of home. Seeing the real face of a society leading us to death and the failure of a utopian dream, we saw no use in trying—but we refused to be suckled by a programmed society on a death march to conformity.
As death quietly stalked us,
WE PLAYED IN THE REFUSE AND STARED INTO THE VOID because we felt the void was the only place wherein some truth could be found. We “lived”—if that’s the right word—in despair and yet without limits. (We figured being “without limits” was good, but all we got was despair without limits.) Many of us chose poverty and glorified it; we hid beauty behind deformity and thought ugliness was a virtue; we rebelled against the superficial values of our hypocritical society. We scratched and gaped in gutters, garbage cans, dark alleyways, grubby house parties, mosh pits, and sideshows for something real. Everything else seemed so unreal: the skyscrapers and their well-dressed employees, the ubiquitous chain stores and their “products,” the American dream. We dove headlong into insanity because saneness as defined by our world is actually insane. We ran from the world, trying to make sense of our suffering and the nightmarish thought that our existence was as transient as our highs or our laughter. We looked for truth in a counterculture of our own making because by appearances, truth was nowhere else to be found. In this culture, we met other unhappy people like us and made them family. We weren’t bound by blood; instead we were bound by boundlessness, by being lost. Ours was a bedraggled, coming-and-going family, but for all our escaping and searching, none of us ever seemed to arrive anywhere or find anything.
Now, as we enter the hospital,
STILL SICK WITH THE VIRUSES OF THE PAST, everything has changed. Some of what we believed—all that was worthwhile, all that was integrous and able to stand and help us stand—we still believe: This world, into which we were born so helplessly, is one of dead-end pretensions and disease-bearing medicines, and thus its ways are to be carefully assessed and routinely rejected. All that we hated as runners, as young ones playing in the mud, we still despise: the hollow shows of wealth, the life in pursuit of things, the inauthentic displays of Big Tech™, Big Media™, and Big Business™. However, as we nurse in the hospital and heal from viruses contracted in the past, our eyes have now opened to one great, emerging observation: There exists another world, the alternate but concurrent and only true world, one of another life, new life. This life, somehow deriving health from one’s wounds and those of others, acknowledges we are pilgrims sojourning from inn to inn in a world subject to decay. 2020, a year of rapid social and political unraveling, has made plain this decay. The scythe of the Reaper claimed many thousands through COVID-19 and its sundry “comorbidities”; technocrats exercised alarming, newfound control of the actions and communication of everyday people; viewers of the glowing screens were hypnotized by carefully crafted narratives meant to antagonize, divide, and incite to violence; glass-breaking rage was uncorked on American and European urban centers. 2020—the corpselike embodiment of the modern, technological way—gave its sickly, heaving declaration: “My conveniences are now your death! My technologies are now your end!” As a result, we’ve come to discover in the starkest of terms that the mainframe—our electronic au pair, our synthetic crib and mobile, our silicon pacifier—was wrongly made our premier source of meaning and guidance. To quote a saint, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child”: We, with new but still blurry eyes, have seen that all that pertains to the childish, sickening distractions of this age must be set aside like a dusty box of toys.
After the year of clear vision,
WE TAKE IT AS OUR GREAT PRIVILEGE to enter an age wherein no stone remains on another. There is much to be gained amidst the dark ruins of a shattered world: Brokenness and desolation, so hopeless in the eyes of some, are invisibly pregnant with promise in the eyes of others. As we kick the opiate of material comforts, exit the temple of broken idols, and come to acknowledge that our culture is one of loud and benumbing noise, we finally stand on the threshold of encountering Truth. If one is not seduced back to numbness by the influence of contemporary life, this threshold positions one to apprehend truly (and even transcend almost completely) our dying world’s scaffolding—its logic, appearances, gross phenomena—and come to know by experience the spiritual, otherworldly life. Thus, when one loses all that is of apparent worth and modern society’s ugly face is unmasked, a search for the new, authentic life begins. Indeed, the quaking and tumult of 2020 has not only thrown us onto uneven ground; it has mercifully granted us an ideal vantage point: Clear eyes now see a materialistic society crumbling to its brittle foundations and the hopeful emergence of a sounder, stabler reality, i.e. the Kingdom of Heaven.
Now, though 2020 erupted with protest and agitation,
WE CALL YOU TO JOIN US IN A TRUE REVOLUTION, the last true rebellion this failing world has ever known. You see, dear reader, we—likewise born into chaos, likewise gasping in a life of asphyxiation, likewise dirtied from our foolish actions—can attest to an urgent, life-and-death realization: Standing on the threshold of the authentic life requires alertness and the evasion of a predatory world that aims to draw you into its entangling and poisonous affairs. The authentic life requires one not to put to death the world outside oneself; the authentic life requires one to put to death the world inside oneself. All the world’s hypnotizing idols must be toppled and shattered; all its deceptions must be exposed and rejected; all its protective masks—declared by some to be for your protection—must be ripped off and thrown away. In this process and only by this process does one encounter Truth, for Truth is not an abstraction, a philosophy, or an idea but a Person Whom one begins to know through action, contemplation, and transfiguration.
Introductory Article to Death to the World, Issue XXVII, coming soon.
Featured Image: Woman dancing with a nuclear cloud during testing in Nevada.