The Age of Packaging – Part II in which the state of these United States (and perhaps of other countries) is described and reflected on, albeit with eye and mind of prejudice... The Age of Packaging is what we're in. But there is more to say. And we had thought To leave that out, as it's dispiriting. But pessimism has its uses, too. So we shall venture now upon that road And leave to you to follow us or not.
We shall endeavor now to wail a dirge, With sordid details woven in that seem To indicate the death was homicide – Except that we're recounting the demise Of what was left of sorry humankind, And so, perhaps, it's suicide that fits...
And some of you, I'm sure, would disagree. For soon, that dream we had, when realized, Will let the village boy or girl access The knowledge – and, perhaps, the wisdom – stored And ever growing, of our human kind, So all can use this – and can add to it.
And soon, that other aspect too Of that same dream – that when their citizens Converse – and see the others' sufferings, The nations then might bomb and war no more – This too, we hope, could be reality...
And that might be, but isn't yet, and those Who're cynics – or are realists – might ask, “When families and clans and villages Resort to violence, can nations cease?”
And others yet, more hopeful, might reply, “If provinces and cities find their peace, And often do not care for race or creed, Then nation-states may surely do the same, Or else dissolve, in time, so men may move About and do, what they have always done To live, without the burdens of a state Or nation or of empire on their backs.
“And as they talk, across the distances, Their narrow prejudices then might yield To broader vision, while what's local still Is treasured, drawing vigor from the new.”
But all of this is dream and speculation. We look around and view reality – And though our sighting may be jaundiced, we Perceive, that as before, each step we take, Made possible by reason and by work, Is then reversed – and all, that labor wrought, Is turned around to deepen slavery.
This keeps us busy, as we need not be, While even more distractions rise to cloud Whatever vision gave us hope of clarity.
When life was simpler, and we ran with apes, We cannot doubt that many still were caught Within that web that beings weave, with selves Emerging from that weaving, like those shapes That close inspection sees are only threads Of colors, magicked by embroidery.
But when that weaving too is done for us, So we have even lost that freedom sole, Then what remains, is to our ancient selves As are the plastic prints to cloths of yore.
And so, while in the past one still might hope To clearly see the woven self and so, With gentle art, unravel all its knots, What hope remains, when distant hands conspire To tangle us so even gods despair?
And as we tire of all that comes our way – In print or via copper, glass and through The air itself, on oscillating fields, We're even less inclined to look within Those boxes black that run on magic code That seems beyond our plebeian minds to ken, To ask, from where the things that we consume Have come – and how – whose labor was involved – And whether what we're told by Congressmen, By rabid ranters on the radio or By salesmen – archetype of current age – Is true or false. A numbing apathy Descends – and all we wish to sense Are colors, sounds and titillations. Pablums feed Not only children, but our adults too. We substitute, for facts, mythologies.
So all are turned to salesmen, pitching sales Of goods and services and attitudes – Plus wars, of course, as needed for the rest... And all depends, at end, on packaging.
And only violence appears to wake Our souls from somnolence. We vent that rage That stems from fear, frustration, ignorance.
We cannot see, through blinding prejudice. We cannot hear the subtleties of tone, With ears that have been blasted by the noise That issues, amplified, from gadgets' mouths. We gladly dance to tawdry piper's tunes That lead us further into misery.
The package, when it's opened, then is seen As having content that is clearly not As we envisioned from the packaging. So we're enraged, but rarely blame ourselves Or even packagers, but someone else.
The system's rarely questioned much in depth, By him, who is a modern fatalist, Conditioned to be so, by all he's seen, Despite the jive and all the packaging.
“A pinball game it is, this life,” he says, And some will win, and hopefully, it's me, But all of us are losers in the end.”
“So let us all consume, as best we can, While running fast to earn, so we can spend, Or if we're prudent, sock away that sum, That's ever growing, for that future time When we can either work no more or else Are rich enough to finally relax.”
But then, too often, the unraveling: The wealth has disappeared, along with health. And what's now left is argument, divorce. The dream's still distant. What is real, is debt.
And as with persons, so with larger realms.
“What happened? This was not to supposed to be. We cannot lose, for we're the winning kind. It must be those and that and all the rest That's come between us and the very best.”
And welcome, all, to world, as it's perceived By optimists who flourish in the west And surely, in our day, in east as well. Mirages will be chased, as empires rise And even as they fall to sordid death.
“So what, in this, is new?” you well might ask. Our masses, long ago, to sheep were turned, That did, as wolves-turned-herders, class of lords, Commanded. Violence was always used, With law and church subverted for the ends Of those who reigned and profited the most From all the labor of the ones “below”. This came to them along those feeding chains That still exist. But times have always changed, With evils old acquiring newest names...
So now, it seems, the ones who do the best Are those adept at selling, to the rest, The products and the myths that propagate And feed yet more the cancer that has spread To all the globe, devouring all of life And humankind itself. For it's been found That we've been numbed and dumbed enough to yield, And gladly, to the art of packaging...
So commerce rules, as many had foretold, And finance now is openly our king, And as predicted, local business dies As giants dominate the globe and run Their races for resources, markets and For humans, too, that robots can't replace.
And since so many care for price and show, And little else, the jobs, to places go, Where pay is least, conditions often worst.
And labor thus gets cheaper by the day And yet must face replacement by the ones Who need no wages, pensions, benefits, Nor even sleep nor pause from constant toil, But clank and whir – or function silently.
So many now are jobless. There's no land Or village to return to. Others strive To join their ends – and work themselves to death. Yet others thrive – or else make do on what The race throws up – or government largess.
The ties of village and of clan are lost. Traditions, cultures dissipate and die. While some may celebrate the evils gone, Some others see that evils new have come, With horrors often even greater, yet So packaged that they tempt unwary souls And snare them in the nets they can't escape.
What once was virtue, now is seen as vice. And newer vices rise, as virtues hailed... So soul departs, with all of substance lost, And all that's left is lust and violence.
There's more today of entertainment, food, But less, by far, of depth and quality, And dare we say, of plain humanity. We live and die on “bread and circuses”.
The children are corrupted. Innocence Is quickly lost, impatience, shallowness, Suspicion celebrated, trust misplaced, Sincerity misunderstood, abused...
And yet, on all of this, the marketers Are able still to put a glossy sheen, As we can see in plastic packaging...
We do not know, what misery's behind The food we eat, the clothes we wear, our drugs, And all that we so willingly consume. But there are those who suffer. Yet we're told They do so willingly – or else, it's God, Who has ordained they serve our endless wants.
And if we're scolded for this painting dark That spreads the shadows, at expense of light, And does not show the ones who benefit From all that vision, driving labor, wrought, We answer, “Surely, of those things, you've heard Enough. Discern advances genuine From those that are yet more of packaging.
“Remember, we are beasts of local scope. The more the distance is, the more the chance Of scams. To pipers, near or distant, do Not dance – or if you do, step carefully...
“And open, if you can, the packaging.”
2013 August 4, Sun. (additions made August 10, Sat.) Brooklyn