Parallels (not a poem at all)
And so one day this guy comes up to you and says: “Hey man, did you ever try heroin? It’s really great.” And you say: “Oh, how’s that then?” And he explains like how it gives you this really nice feeling, man, and you’re a bit suspicious, of course, because you can’t believe it can be that easy and haven’t you heard that it can be dangerous? But he says no, it’s not dangerous as long as you know what you’re doing, so you say OK and you take some and it IS really nice, so you take some more. And so on …
(And so one day this guy comes up to you and says: “Hey man, did you ever try mass production economics? It’s really great.” And he explains how it’s this fantastic system where if you use machinery to produce lots and lots of everything, it all comes out cheap, so that everyone can afford a flat screen wall mounted TV with a DVD player and surround sound and a CD player in every room in the house, a computer, a laptop, an i-pod, a mobile phone, a digital camera, a microwave, two cars, a washer and dryer, a dish washer, a fridge and a deep freeze. And you’re a bit suspicious, of course, because you can’t believe it can be that easy. But he says: “What could possibly be wrong with a system like that? It’s just what we’ve always been looking for. Here, have this free gift and 14 days free trial in your own home WITH ABSOLUTELY NO OBLIGATION AND A MONEY BACK GUARANTEE AND 0% INTEREST FINANCE.” So you do …)
And then you start to notice after a while that maybe you don’t get to feel quite as great quite as easily as you did before, and it seems like you’re needing more of the stuff. And not only that, but when you don’t have any you don’t feel good at all and it’s like you’re beginning to have this NEED and that need keeps growing and you’re needing more and more and the price keeps going up and you start to suspect maybe the stuff is being cut with something and that’s why it’s not having the same effect. But you can’t be sure though and whatever – you can’t afford to pay for your habit legally any more and you’ll do anything for dope or the money to buy it. Running to keep still. Mortgage on your soul.
(And then you start to notice after a while that maybe you don’t feel all that happy with all this stuff, certainly not as happy as the people in the magazines and on the TV, but then you don’t have all the things they have yet, at least not the new models. And your work and your whole life doesn’t seem very satisfying either somehow, as if you’re kind of separated off from everything, and the things you’ve bought don’t seem to satisfy either (though you pretend they do) and again it seems to be a separation from something. And the price of whatever it is you want next which will finally free you keeps going up and what you have keeps wearing out or proving unsuitable or going out of fashion, and someone else always seems to be doing better than you and it makes you so mad. And you’ll listen to anything that promises satisfaction (“Buy now and save!” “More than you can possibly use in a lifetime!” “Vote for me and I’ll make everything OK.”) and agree to anything the system says is necessary, even a nuclear war.)
And finally you awake from your technicolour fantasies of horror and ecstasy and allow yourself to realise you have been sucked into a situation of total need. Terminal addiction. The only way to avoid the excruciating pain of withdrawal is to tie yourself in knots trying to pay for your ever-increasing consumption of the poison which is killing you. You can choose between death by intoxication and the voluntary suffering of a pain which you are afraid may also kill you as the only escape from your sick body and back to some kind of health. Some make it one way, some the other.
(And finally you awake from the advertisements braying between the taped laughter of the sitcoms, the obsessive violence of the thrillers and the ritual humiliation of the big money quiz shows to learn that you are living in a multinational board game, a cross between Monopoly and Risk, mesmerised by an intrusive and pervasive media telling you not only what to think (too obvious) but what to think about; where corporations not only buy and own politicians, but can sue governments whose policies cut into their profits; where goods are more abundant than ever before while the number of people without shelter, work or enough to eat is constantly growing. At home the tap water tastes like a swimming pool and you can be thankful if your child isn’t among the one in three on the poverty line; with a floating garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean that’s twice the size of Texas; the “third world” is as in third world war; you can smell the fuse for the Christian/Muslim explosion to come; AIDS, starvation, pollution, war and corruption are a Jehovah’s Witness dream/nightmare coming true and you are a cell in a sick body, sucked into a situation of total greed. Marooned on the terminal beach while “safe” nuclear waste leaks slowly into the oceans. Much of the world is starving and oil, metal and timber are running out, while the only remedy will throw most of our industries out of work and collapse the (already teetering) world economy. You can choose between capitalism, where man is exploited by man, and communism, where it’s the other way round. The only way to avoid the excruciating fear of “the enemy” is to tie yourself in knots trying to pay for ever-increasing overkill potential: nuclear, biological and chemical weaponry. Prophecy a-fulfil, ya.)