ISIS is Israeli Secret Intelligence Service

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Dismiss Whatever Insults Your Own Soul

A Crucible of Political Disenchantment

By Phil Rockstroh
Dissident Voice
September 26, 2012

Weltschmerz (from German; from Welt (world) + Schmerz (pain)
delineates the type of sadness experienced when the world
revealed does not reflect the image of the world that one
believes, or has been led to believe, should exist.

The corporate/consumer state (as well as, its scion, the present
day presidential election cycle) has brought us, as a people, into
a wilderness of Weltschmerz.

Confronting the stark contrast between life imagined and life
revealed can prove to be a daunting task.

It is an endeavor that has proven particularly difficult for
political partisans, both professional and rank and file,
who seem unwilling or unable to grasp the sense of futility
experienced by significant numbers of their fellow citizens
regarding political participation, on any level, including the
act of voting under the corrupted to the core structure of
the current system.

Such reactions are understandable. Exercises in futility
prove enervating.

Disenchanted, sizable and increasing numbers of voters
have tuned out and walked away from the process, due
to the abject refusal of the political class to be responsive
to the needs of the populace beyond the elitist-ridden
New York/DC nexus of privilege and power.

Yet, rank and file political partisans, all too often, resist
gaining awareness of the extent of their powerlessness.

This is understandable as well. Feelings of powerlessness can
engender despair.

To avoid despair, one feels as though one must remain active in
order to avoid sinking into the muck and mire borne of chronic
hopelessness. True enough. But activity towards what end?

Does the activity, such as voting along partisan lines, reinforce
states of powerlessness by serving the forces of one’s oppression?

Despite all the cultural cues that we have internalized, one cannot
consume, medicate, buy on credit, receive a promotion, vacation,
vote, hope, affect a pose of hipster irony, tithe to the church of
your choice, receive a hundred FaceBook friendship requests,
hit the winning lottery number, support the troops, nor be the recipient of a VIP swag bag in order to stumble your way back to
possessing a sense of control and power.

All too often, we incarcerate ourselves in a prison of expectation —
expectation forged and constructed by the material of past events,
both traumatic and triumphant.

We mistake this prison for the whole of ourselves and for the sweep
and detail of the world. We go through life convinced our agendas
are our own, rarely pondering what circumstances and experiences
formed our perceptions.

Are my goals and convictions my own, or have those notions been
foisted on me by forces of dehumanizing power?

Daily, power kicks us in the gut, and demands our gratitude for
having done so, even terms us deviant when we cry out in pain
or we rage from within the confines of our powerlessness.

There exist billions of us who feel this way. Multitudes feeling
alone among lonely multitudes.

What keeps us from grasping our common plight?

Often, the obsession for gaining and possessing happiness itself, as
marketed to us by the propagandist of the consumer state, leads us
away from the realm of common communion.

Paradoxically, most unhappy people are simply striving to be happy.

Their days are comprised of wrongheaded, self-perpetuating actions
in the desperate pursuit of chimerical goals towards that end.

They lie, self-medicate, exploit, steamroll over others. They merely
hold notions of what life should be — as opposed to having a life.

Rarely, do our agendas reflect our true nature. Yet, such pursuits
devour our days. The same phenomenon comes into play between
the monstrous acts of an empire and its people in the homeland.

After a time, tragically, the two forces merge. One cannot honestly
claim one’s life as being one’s own. Where does my complicity with
the actions of the state end and where do I begin? How do I sort
things out?

Making a start of it is imperative, for devoid of the inclination, I
have lost my soul.

No one can maintain a lie over an extended length of time — not
even empires are that powerful.

Empires are maintained by illusions; the noxious fiction that the
greater good is served by codes of dominance and plunder.

Towards empire’s end the populace suffers escalating levels of
unease, as the fabric of the collaboratively woven lie begins to

Embrace, hold close, and dance to the exquisite music of grief that
arrives at the end of things. This is an honest, piercing sound. The
pain that grief brings to the heart can serve as a compass, set to
aid in navigating a wasteland of weltschmerz.

Because we mourn the loss of those things we love, we should never
stop grieving over the follies of humankind and the sorrows of the

To cease grieving is too give up on love.

By a refusal to grieve, by lapsing into a host of manic evasions, one
risks becoming a monster — a being devoid of empathy that, in an
attempt to avoid experiencing suffering, will wound, demean, and
exploit the things of the world.

In collective terms, we know this state as the agendas of empire.

Conversely, to embrace one’s humanity, one must accept being
shattered by grief, yet restored by love, simultaneously.

Being in unashamed possession of a heart, both broken and
whole, serves to mitigate the compulsion to act in the manner
of a monster.

The price of self-deception (e.g., political partisanship,
monomaniacal careerist striving, compulsive consumerist
distractions) is not worth the palliative relief provided.

To endure the undoing of illusion, one is tempted to retreat
from life into a bubble of isolation or partisan group-think.

Somehow, somewhere along the way, one can become convinced
the life that, as imagined in one’s entitlement-addicted mind not
the byproduct of an ongoing, humility-shepherding dialog with the
world, must be made manifest by relentless deed and actions, no
matter how dishonest and ruthless.

In this way, an individual is prone to becoming an exploitation
maintained empire of one, a walking analog of the state that
sired, weaned, and socialized him.

How could it not be so?

Of course, by his callous disregard of the humanity of others,
he makes miserable all that he touches.

By his hollow ambitions, he demeans himself, and the happiness
that he seeks becomes ever more elusive, and, caught in a self-
resonating circuitry of self-defeating actions, he will eventually
bring to ruin all near him.

This is how empires fall, and this is the means, on an individual
basis, how its citizens move it along towards the precipice.

Conversely, it proves propitious to face the twilight of treasured
convictions, to survive the collapse of the empire within, a decision
that can provide practice in surviving the collapse of its collectively
constructed, outward analog.

Often, events in life can play out badly. Painful as it is, we must
not flee from reality.

When one becomes prone to acts of habitual evasion, there is little
chance to exist with one’s dignity intact; it becomes impossible to
live with a sense of grace.

Rationalizations are by nature ugly:

They are the disingenuous face of desperate souls who have come
to fear others and hold a contemptuous dread of life itself.

In this way, you can mistake your defense mechanisms deployed
against grief and dread as comprising a large portion of your

Take a moment to contemplate what an awful circumstance it is
to incessantly pass by your true self, sans recognition, in a similar
fashion to the manner one regards an anonymous stranger passed
on a teeming boulevard.

The dilemma involves, to paraphrase Rilke, how will you spend
the days of this finite life?

Will you give into the compulsion to build a construction of
ghostly artifice — life lived as a self-perpetuating lie that you
are in control, that the caprice you conjure to ward off feelings
of despair, regarding your powerlessness over the coursing
flow of events, is an accurate description of your true nature?

Will you create a bristling fortification of convenient cynicism,
allowing you to remain ensconced within a dead womb of bile
and ashes?

Or will you risk being the midwife of your own tale, grasping
that there exist forces within you, when in dialog with the soul
of existence, that are greater than the sum of your assumptions,
that exist deeper and beyond life-negating banalities, such as
winner and loser, shame and pride, and grief and happiness?

“So don’t be frightened, dear friend, if a sadness confronts you
larger than any you have ever known, casting its shadow over all
you do.

You must think that something is happening within you, and
remember that life has not forgotten you; it holds you in its
hand and will not let you fall.

Why would you want to exclude from your life any uneasiness,
any pain, any depression, since you don’t know what work they
are accomplishing within you?” ― Rainer Maria Rilke

Slightly more than eleven years ago, on September 11, 2001, my
wife and I awoke to the blaring of sirens, one following the next.

Our air conditioning unit was broken and our windows were open.
The air carried an acrid odor.

I checked my email and stacked in my inbox was an avalanche of
messages, all inquiries bearing a unifying theme: “Are you alright?”

I called out to my wife to plug in an old black and white television
set, because something terrible, it seems, was happening here in
New York.

The television roused itself to life just at the moment of the
collapse of the North Tower.

This was before the image was fetishized in the American
imagination, was exploited by two U.S. presidential administrations
to justify thousands of acts of military aggression on people of
distant lands who only share one trait in common — they were born
of the Islamic faith.

This was before George W. Bush played dress-up in military
costumes and pranced about at military bases and the decks
of naval vessels.

This was before President Obama’s brandishing of kill lists, his
normalization and codification into law of Bush era war crimes
and constitutional and human rights violations.

This was when the archetypal image of a collapsing tower seized
the mind, engendering an analogous collapse of one’s mooring and
verities. The quotidian touchstones of daily life had vanished, as
did alienation.

We needed each other.

Empathy and generosity replaced self-absorption and the illusionary
urgency of urban life… vanished were, monomaniacal commercial
agendas and compulsive distractions.

The streets were gauzy with veils of smoke; the veils had been
removed from our hearts.

A feeling akin to love allowed us to face horror and take
ambulatory refuge in compassion and beauty.

Cell phones and bottled water were proffered to strangers.

As night fell, candles flickered in public squares; there was the
sound of sobbing and impromptu singing. The scene seemed like
a cross between the London Blitz and Woodstock.

One was fully alive in the realm of death.

It would have been lovely if that had been the lesson we carried
forth from that day, a decade and a year ago. Alas, the political
agendas of militarist imperium carried the day.

Tribalism trumped the universal exigencies of our common

Our leaders behaved despicably, and continue to, and we allow
it to happen e.g., Democrats boast of Obama “getting Bin Laden”
in a reprehensible attempt to gain political leverage from the
tragedy, actions that Democratic partisans would have, rightly,
shamed a Republican president for attempting to exploit.

Yet the sublime of that day is available to us still.

Providentially, there is no need for actual towers to fall…only
one forlorn, interior tower to which we have exiled our humanity.

No one needs to die…other than the entity within who induces
us into habitual denial and exclusively self-serving pursuit.

“[R]eexamine all you have been told in school or church or in
any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your
very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency […]”
— Walt Whitman, from the 1855 preface to Leaves of Grass.

Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in
New York City. He may be contacted at

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