Monday, December 17, 2007

The Numbness that Passeth All Understanding

Astride of a grave and a difficult birth. Down in the hole, lingeringly, the grave-digger puts on the forceps. We have time to grow old. The air is full of our cries. (He listens.) But habit is a great deadener.
Samuel Beckett
waiting for godot

Dear George,

Old Sam really nailed it. Repetition dulls. It dulls the senses, it dulls the mind and it dulls the will. The same pattern, day in and day out, the same grey corridors, the same movements ingrained until they are a choreographed shuffle, all of this soothes the spirit and gives to it the peace that numbs.

Repetition is a security blanket that relieves the stress that would arise should a man have to recreate each day anew. The man mired in sameness knows the happiness of the dead because his days are a series of easy passages from dawn to dusk, and no matter how oppressive the bosses, or meager the pay, or dangerous the working conditions, his is a life of certitude. To shuffle in lockstep with his brethren is float gently down a meandering stream

And yet, George, with all the serenity habit has to offer, man remains cursed by that fucking apple Eve gave to Adam. It is that stubborn refusal to accept the natural order of things and to insist on living a life peppered with rebellion that keeps the peace that can only come from conformity out of mankind’s grasp.

Chronic disobedience is what makes leadership so challenging. Traditional leaders compensated for this with an oppressive terror that included the stake, the rack and the cross.

External oppression is simply not cost effective. Too much manpower is wasted staging an efficient crucifixion. Racks are expensive, and the stake is an environmentally unsound method given all the wood that is wasted. Stoning is a little more cost effective, but crowd control can be a problem.

The traditional methods of oppression were grounded on a shaky premise: that the objective of terror is to force the masses into a state of obedience. The problem is that a thin line separates obedience from disobedience. Let the leader show the slightest weakness and he has a rebellion on his hands.

The proper objective is not obedience, but numbness. The person who wanders through life in a cloud of apathetic dullness is far more malleable than the person beaten into obedience. Nothing generate this apathy like a dancing screen, be it the tube, a computer monitor, a cell phone, or the multiple large screens that are increasingly dotting our public spaces.

The moment the eye settles on it, the brain goes dead as it is pumped full of the mundane and the innocuous. Life is trivialized and reality is reduced to an inaudible sound echoing just out of range. The mind is made fertile for the obedient shuffle because it is totally unaware of the multiple chains that are binding it. The chains sing, perform and gossip. The chains say, “There, there. Don’t make trouble. Go along. It is easier.” And in a trance-like state man follows without a whimper.

Unless he finds the on-off button on the remote...

Eve was a bitch!

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones.


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