Late Stage Capitalism and the Shame Haunted Life

You Can’t Kill Trauma With A Gun – Published on Dissident Voice, by Phil Rockstroh, January 4, 2013.

In an era of corporate-state colonization of both landscape and mental real estate, when the face of one’s true oppressors is, more often than not, hidden from view, thus inflicting feelings of anxiety borne of powerlessness over the criteria of one’s life and the course of one’s fate, often, to retain a sense of control, people will tend to displace their anger and shame.  Firearms provide the illusion of being able to locate and bead down on a given target. (How often does a person without wealth, power, and influence have any contact with — or even a glimpse of — the financial and political elite whose decisions dictate the, day by day, criteria of one’s existence?). 

Beginning in childhood, carrying the noxious notions of the adult world, the viral seeds of mental enslavement to shame and the concomitant attempt to protect ego-integrity through psychological displacement are spread child to child.

All too often, internalized shame robs a child of his innate identity before it has a chance to jell. This is one, among multiple social factors, by which the collective mindset of capitalist/consumer state forcefully usurps an individual’s mind and holds it in torment.

Therefore, it is imperative for an individual, marooned in the shame-haunted miasma of the capitalist/consumer paradigm, to reclaim his/her own name. Even if the process entails (as it as played out in my own story) a descent into the underworld of memory and a confrontation with the ghosts therein … //

… I recall writing a story in my loose leaf notebook involving a lonely, bullied boy, who, shaken by shame and humiliation, played hooky from school.

Hiding out in a section of woods near his school, he was bitten, while exploring a deep ravine, by a venomous copperhead snake camouflaged by a carpet of pines straw. The incident was witnessed by a grizzled hermit/wizard who dwelled in a secret cave in the woods. The boy is revived by an elixir of anti-venom of the wizard’s devising that had the unattended side effect of bestowing the boy with the ability to bring inanimate objects to life…which, the boy, much to the distress and consternation of the old wizard, utilizes to transform the Izod alligators adorning his school yard tormentor’s clothing into agents of vengeance that devour the offending parties.

Anger dwells as deep as the pain leveled by being shamed and humiliated. From road rage, to internet trolling, to the compulsion to humiliate women in certain forms of porn, to right-wing radio ranters, to violent video games, to gun-sown episodes of mass murder — the shame-besieged psyche of the American male, in vain, attempts to mitigate a psychologically devastating sense of powerlessness.

The actual progenitors of his torment reside in the ghostly domain of personal memory as well as are veiled from view by a class-stratified economic system that serves as an analog of childhood humiliation.

But such prodigious amounts of pain do not remain buried. In the current day U.S., there are multiple factors that bar access to collective memory: the heap of fragmented images constituting the mass media multi-scape and its attendant 24 hour news cycle; suburban atomization and urban alienation; a cultural refusal to confront the true nature of the nation’s history, other than through hagiography, because to face our past would serve to bring us to a rude awakening regarding where we stand at present.

Cue: Existential dread. We are approaching the endgame of (global) capitalism; the system is headed straight to the landfill (its own creation) of history (that is, if global, late stage capitalism doesn’t bury the human species first by means of ecocide). Therefore, it is imperative, as we move towards the future, that we straddle the past, as we become attuned to the lamentation of the ghosts of memory, personal and collective.

Otherwise, the unhinged among us, psychically bearing the things we bury, literalize our denial, even by acts of murdering the living (even school children) in a futile attempt to kill the raging ghosts of memory deferred.

There has been a deadly legacy wrought by social structures that inflict shame and thus sows seeds of inarticulate rage. By the malefic vehicle of these tormented individuals, who are lashing out like a wounded animal, we can apprehend much about the death-besotted trajectory of U.S. culture.

Deep emotional scars can warp libido; thus, in our age of corporate state hyper-authoritarianism, obsessive materialism, and neo-puritan pathology, all too many people have become terrified of their own passion, from sweat plangent lust to incandescent enthusiasm, right down to even accepting the shadows and perfumes borne of an inner life, and have withdrawn into forms of self-exile, such as addiction, alienation, depression, compulsive materialism, and narcissistic striving.

We are convinced we know our own mind…that the decisions we make are based on logic and the wisdom gathered from experience. We believe our night-borne dreams and seemingly random, daylight imaginings are furtive shadows, inconsequential to the choices we make moment by moment as we navigate the linear timescape of our days.

Yet, what if you were visited by a rude angel who revealed to you how your mind had been usurped — the moments of your day harnessed for agendas not your own; your life had been waylaid by interlopers (e.g., Madison Avenue, family legacies, social pressures) who you do not remember granting entrance into your mind?

What kind of a tale of horror is this, you would demand? How did it come to this? Angel, you would cry out, what kind of a cruel joke is this? Why me?

And the angel would simply flash you eternity’s impersonal grin and tell you it is not personal. You have done the very human thing of gathering thoughts and beliefs like a bower bird gathers shiny objects. You have mistaken the bauble-stippled nest of found material for the honey-hive of your soul.

In contrast, passion arrives as a surging flood; the caress of silver moonlight on dark water; a golden fire blazing through one’s blood. But its purpose does not end there; i.e., in a fleeting incandescence of the soul. The energies of a fast moving wildfire must be transmuted into the persistence inherent to a stalwart heart — the maintenance of an interior hearth.

Those who evince passion will suffer. Worse, those who demur will suffer confinement in a cold, protective lock-up of their own construction. The union of passion and suffering, with much patience and persistence, transforms winged passion into a deep-dwelling compassion. Luminous angels are drawn earthward to weep.

Life beckons, but all too many ignore the call or defer adherence until it is too late…Too often people confuse a sense of purpose with an obsession for seeking safety; they long for purity, and fear the sublime awkwardness that allows you to lose your balance and fall into your essential self.

By embodying the latter, you have entered a realm that exists beyond success and failure, because when you venture into the heart of creation, you venture deep into your own being. The more passion you evince in life the deeper you inhabit your own humanity.

The only failure in life comes to be when you dismiss destiny’s invitation to dance.

The death-besotted, collective psyche of the late capitalist state reveals the consequences of a culture-wide refusal to heed the call … (names have been altered).

(“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate – C.G. Jung).”

(full text).

(Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at phil@philrockstroh.com and FaceBook. Read other articles by Phil, or visit Phil’s website).

Links:

Sandy victims mad as hell at Congress, on Russia Today RT, Jan 4, 2013: After victims of Hurricane Sandy expressed outrage at the 112th Congress’ failure to pass the $60.4 billion disaster aid package, the US House and Senate on Friday approved a $9.7 billion portion of the measure …;

End to evictions in Spain? Locksmiths refuse to help oust owners amid austerity drive, on Russia Today, Jan 4, 2013.

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