Ghost Dance Soliloquies
Copyright © 2007 by Thomas Logan. All rights reserved.
The following soliloquies are from a hardboiled epic (as yet unpublished) entitled Ghost Dance. They are used as breaks between chapters to further explain the politics underpinning The Living Way International, a cult with revolutionary plans.
Head of Media Promotions
Wayan Alternative Video & Entertainment
Tampa Bay, FL
Trash, is it necessary to our modern life? That sounds like a documentary you’d see in grade school, huh? Like the answer will have to be ‘yes’, unless I asked it with a more serious tone, maybe an angrier voice, ‘Trash, is it necessary to our modern life?’ and then somehow you’d know to shout out, No! and maybe pound or raise your fist. Trash, yeah, there’s too much of it. It seems to be our gross national product. Everything’s expendable, meant to be on its way to becoming trash.
That’s the nature of today’s things: planned obsolescence, less mess, clean-n-toss, brand new packaging but same great product. Don’t get the three-year extended warrantee; you’ll want a new model for the new formats before then anyway. There’s nothing wrong with improvement; there’s something wrong with trash. Take microprocessor production: While they’re designing the plant to produce the chip, that chip’s design is becoming outmoded. Before it’s made. Like the Red Queen in Through the Looking Glass running to break even. Ever read that? It’s good. Weird that he might have been a pedophile.
The point was that we run as fast as we can to stay in the same place. Even though the chip will be outdated by the time it’s ready, they’ve gotta make it anyway because they’ve invested so much capital. Seems like some kinda metaphor for modern life, huh? I don’t know. What do you think?
So you and your suburban neighbors toss out your old laptops and desktops and VCRs and laserdiscs, and the plant that made each of them is being demolished because that technology you’re throwing away was obsolete when it was being made and now it’s cheaper to build in cleared virgin forests overseas. Trash. Extinction. Like the dinosaurs. Buried. Single-use vanities like coffee cups, Kleenex, sporks, disposable diapers, disposable anything, an avalanche, maybe a rockslide, burying the American consumer in fifty times er weight in trash every year. A lot of trash. Have you ever stared at traffic passing on a highway? That’s a lot of people throwing away their Apple II’s, their Lisa’s, their Amigas, their Tandy’s, their Texas Instrument’s, their Commodore 64′s, their Compaq’s. And you never worry about garbage. Why? Because we don’t care? Because we’re addicted and get some kind of nonsexual release like throwing feces for our cousins with whom we share ninety-five percent of our DNA? Because everyone’s doing it?
Every time I watch groceries get put in free plastic bags I see trash, mounds and mounds of unnecessary, convenient waste, and all the energy that went into making those bags and then, sometimes, my grandma, and she’s wagging her finger, darning her socks, collecting grease, turning cloth diapers into handtowels, making material go the extra mile and how unfairly embarrassed I felt about her frugalness. It’s our patriotic duty to make trash. It means that we buy more. Bigger. Better. New and improved. It’s the whole hotdogs to buns, ten to a dozen, planned waste thing. It’s weird. It’s schizophrenic. Like thinking you can war for peace; that unemployment is evil, bad, vinegar, but killing people is honey and going to make others your friends.
War. Yeah, war is bad. A lot of trash. The Cold War is over, but no one’s celebrating. That’s weird, right? World safe for democracy, apple pie, and — oh, yeah, forgot: terrorism. Arabs. Like a war on drugs: There’s no war. We’re the world’s producer of military weapons. Does that make us terrorists? I mean, when I say that, ‘the world’s producer of weapons,’ I feel like we’re manufacturing crack cocaine to give the ghettos of the world. Weapons of mass destruction, look at the sticker: Made in the good ol’ US of A. The worst thing: A weapon is trash unless it’s used and becomes trash after it is used — and it can only make more trash. Buildings, dead bodies, 1984 redux. It adds so little and costs so much. Sure, World War II gave us the ballpoint pen and the military helps train people for the private sector, but do you really need a four million dollar M1 Abrams tank and boot camp to teach someone how to be an electrician? I don’t know. What bigger waste is there?
A billion big ones to build a single state of the art corrections facility; eighty thousand a year to house just one prisoner. They call it a growth industry. Investors are happy. Unlike that microchip factory, no one’s going to tear down a prison. And there can always be more people to fill it. An unlimited resource. It might be more expensive to jail people than to find ways of keeping them out, but making people human trash is great money for investors.
I guess it’s a little late to say the system’s corrupt. Sorry, I’m feeling kinda tired. Trash makes me tired.
I guess the point to all this — if there has to be one for you, for this training you’re going through — is that there is something sinister about a system that increases military spending and domestic spying while cutting both programs for the poor and taxes for the rich; it is what allows for a dictatorship. There is something wrong about a system where poor people commit crimes to go to prison for three squares and a bed-and it’s not that prisons are too humane. It’s that those in power give charity only when it can guard and control and demonize the needy, when it can help private industry build these houses of despair and hatred for billions of dollars. That’s what you don’t see on CRI and all those cop shows. That’s what you don’t see in advertising. Real talk about trash isn’t about recycling or entreaties not to destroy the Earth before we get a chance to outlive it; it’s about the cultural adaptations we’ve made to ignore our filth, the shit, all the excrement we ignore so that we can keep on keeping on.
Yeah, nobody likes to talk about trash.
Hey, look, you, me, them — we’re all zombies, dim consciousnesses limited by our snail-paced brains in these rotting, Hayflick-Limit bodies. Look, you, me, that rock over there, this wooden horse — we’re all composed of atoms — ergo: there’s no such thing as angels and stem cells don’t have souls. You can live with that, then we can talk. If you think it’s fine and great and beautiful that we’re patchwork biological beings and going to die, we can’t.
Good. Listen, our body is a code, ever and always a collection of atoms — it’s almost impossible to conceive, like eternity or how matter is not solid but energy, but what else would a body be? It’s the rock but with a design that allows for consciousness, perhaps the only creatures subject to being subjects of our subjectivity — complex — but it’s ultimately all atoms and, once our computers are smart enough, it’ll be a kid’s game to create. Immortality, Jack. Forever. Each human being comes from a single cell, and everything is composed of atoms. No essence. We good?
Okay, so what’s the problem? Zombies. People afraid or too lazy to be alive. People don’t see themselves as the living dead-or worse, patriotically embrace their nine-to-five rotting, the-way-of-all-flesh zombihood. ‘They’re coming to get you, Barbara.’ People, the walking dead, those doing what they feel they are supposed to do, a lifeplan, norms, hopes, standards about sex marriage and respectability. It’s the War of the Worlds. There’s a strong deathist culture here in America based in pain, misery-love-company, all-go-down-with-the-ship ghouls. I don’t blame society; not like other Wayans. Sorry. Everyone makes a choice. I used to be a fencesitter until I realized they were trying to kill me with their sugarplum visions of eternity. You only get one chance, one life; you can’t coddle death. They choose the Tiger over the Lady, okay, but don’t limit my choice. Die and goodbye; make room for the rest of us. You don’t want to live forever, don’t. Eternal life with people who still believe in heaven, that’d be my hell.
There is nothing inevitable about the world which surrounds us, Jack. There is no reason to trust in its permanence. There’s no god protecting us from Chicxulub asteroids or plagues or nuclear war. We have reached a consciousness that can finally confront the death of being — Ragnarök meets the atomic bomb — body of god loses meat to become ATCG molecules, dissipating into the black of infinite space where, as the Alien poster said, ‘No one can hear you scream.’ There’s no safety net.
The living dead don’t understand. They would rather play make believe, gathered in places where they drop ten percent of their income to hear about some fairytale-all-great-Hollywood-happy-ending up there in the sky, some big guy directing events down here preparing for the final curtain call in Israel. Madness. Collective insanity. Insecurity. And we let these people vote. Tax writeoffs like they’re a charity. And get this, they call themselves ‘The Culture of Life.’
More scientists are alive today than have ever lived; the greatest secrets about life have been discovered in our generation. But no one cares. Ben Franklin’s dead, just a Da Vinci smile folded and sat on all day worth about a cup of espresso and froth. Specialization has excluded the common, casual follower of the Victorian Era and Renaissance mun, the scientist celebrity. It’s easier to understand movie actor weddings and waving flags. This is our apocalypse culture; we’ve gotten to a point where the numbers are too large to understand. It’s hard for people to see where we are anymore. Instead of enthusiasm, ennui. The wonder of finding and buying a Romero- and Savini-signed original Dawn of the Dead poster from a worldwide auction via your laptop on a café’s wireless network while you sip a white mocha latte and watch the sunrise. I remember — I’m late twenties — landlines and being at a party and we can’t remember what Bette Davis movie it was when she said, ‘What a dump!’ Now we can pull out our PDA’s and visit The Movie Database or Google it. Fifteen years ago we still had that dorky blonde kid with a sidepart and a report due telling us the wonders of Encyclopedia Britannica — ‘It’s like having a research library in your own home.’ Call 1-800-whatever and for four monthly installments of — Whatever. No one’s excited. No one sees that the digitized Library of Alexandria will never burn.
The world’s changing — and not in some figurative valedictorian or bizspeak sense. The physical world, our interaction with it — the only way we know ourselves — will soon be entirely reconfigured.
‘Bulk processing,’ it’s where we’ve been stuck for centuries, the machine: You mine some ore, heat it up, bang and chisel and shape it into some part or tool to generate future tools or parts. All very physical. Enter Nanotechnology. Instead of forcing and forging matter to fit the design, you build from the atom up; it is driven by The Code. The alchemic dream: lead into gold. Like Superman III, a lump of coal instantly transformed into a diamond — we’re becoming Nietzsche’s supermyn. And as Nietzsche suggested, popularized by Sam Raimi’s Spiderman movies, ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ That’s our project here, The Way’s; Wayans are preparing people for the future which awaits the species. We’re waking them up.
The collapse is coming; all your baubles and tax schemes and pensions won’t be worth a dime or wooden nickel. The playing field’s going to be a lot more equal, and a lot of Disconnecteds with a false sense of worth are going to be terrified. But for others, freedom.
We know there is no essential self. We know, like fellow coalminers who knew Phineas Gage, that the brain is the seat of being. The problem is getting the rest of the world to accept. You hear about the thawing of Victoria Blandermouth? Tragic.
It’s coming. Once we build a human-equivalent computer, it will figure out how to build superhuman ones. And once a computer learns, its software can be shared; there’s no maturation period of biological or cultural learning like in humans-and no forgetting either. Just plug and play, lock and load. Eventually, soon, computers will not just be smarter or stronger, longer lasting than us, they’ll be the dominant species and, like donkeys and horses, we’ll interbreed with them. Now here’s a question: If we could design robots just like us now, when they become conscious and ask, how can we explain why we programmed them to die, to lose memories as they acquire new ones, to have to work to learn facts that could otherwise be given to them? Now — yeah, I see you can see where this is going: How can we explain mortality to our children, to our neighbors, our friends? Handicapping ourselves for some archaic notion of human?
Think how much intelligence is lost to us; we could have our generation’s Shakespeare living and dying trapped in some McJob speaking in iambic pentameter: ‘Your tongue or eyes might I int’rest with lar-ger fries. This order can be supersized.’ Okay, I’m no Alexander Pope, but I can see it pretty clearly: Poor Yorick. Every death’s a tragedy.
Eventually, we could bring someone back from the dead to a point which they’ve uploaded. It’d be like a save point in a videogame. You would and wouldn’t die, could die thousands of times. A copy of you could be materialized galaxies away to conduct business, one of you staying where you are and the other somewhere else — both of you after the split slowly becoming new people. Wild, huh? But even sooner we’ll be able to digitize and transfer memories. Now that’d be wild. You could be someone new everyday. You would be ‘you’ to share. Can you imagine? You see why The Tech is vital to The Shift.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not ‘into’ technology. It will be our savior, but it can’t be our god. We’ve got to be conscious of it. We can’t hide from its effects like all those corralled cattle mooing across our so-called great nation. If we do, life becomes plastic, without meaning, just calculations, carbon and silicon. We are here to change that. Look, sixty-five percent of Americans still believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, and the National Book Review last year put it in their top three books a person should read before dying. We’ve got a lot of work.
Billions of minds are turned off, hibernating, waiting to be rebooted and incorporated into this giant computer we call Life. The Way and Wayans will be there to help to guide the emerging consciousness, but a lot of people, I fear, I estimate, are going to be left out, left behind, frightened. It’ll be the 1938 Orson Welles broadcast all over again. Unless we can change them, put the metaphoric bullet in their zombie brains, that dangerous thought suicidal to their way of life that we can make Earth our Heaven, they’ll stay flesh eaters, will come after our life, try to infect us with death, make us them. Like the sheriff in Night of the Living Dead: ‘Yeah, they’re dead; they’re — all messed up.’
Alternative Economy Chair
Wayan Institute for Studies Humane
I’m not going to give you the doom and gloom. The world’s not going to end. I know, and as a Level 7, Mr. Hatch, despite recent setbacks, you too sense that The Way will succeed. But it’s no paradise now. The people know this. They feel it in the most intimate details of their lives — money — and their decisions are guided by dollars and cents. Money is allowing for money’s abuse, the perversion of wealth and work. In our present economic system, built on the coin, money is a form of tyranny, an abstraction, a dead system of beliefs that is killing life. Money itself is laundering, stealing, theft. Itself as a medium has become its message.
Why does a dollar have worth? Because investors — international currency traders and you, locally, handing a bill over the counter and the person there accepting it as legal tender — have faith in it. It’s a medium of exchange, but it shows nothing about human needs or human energy, i.e., life, what a true economy must represent. Maybe you spent all the cold morning digging through garbage to find twenty bottles to exchange for a dollar — or maybe you found a greenback on the ground; somehow, these are the same dollar, possess the same value, have the same worth. You must understand: money has no worth. It is by its very nature worthless. Money is a container, a measure, a marker, but it is ultimately paper, numbers. Money is an abstraction of an abstraction. It has nothing to do with your time or your work’s social profit. How can nuclear power ever be cheaper than wind, solar, or any renewable, clean fuel? How can a pornstar — and excuse me here but politeness is the ultimate mask for what I am about to say — how can a pornstar, gangbanged, double-, triple-penetrated, with a hundred men pulling a train on her and then each ejaculating onto her face — I ask you how can she earn in that one day of filming what would take her two months scrubbing toilets from ten at night to seven in the morning at a mall forty hours a week? How could we ever, ever let money decide what’s profitable?
There is no gauge for progress or betterment with money; money means only itself. It gains its power from the ability to befuddle and have the population submit. Real wealth is peace and love and reduced drudgery — all the things that advertising promises with lies. Money is counterfeit. It is a matter of bad faith.
I remember when I first had my realization of the world’s artifice. I’d spent the night with my friend, I guess I was around eleven, and we were rushing to his Christian church. We arrived late, and I remember clearly walking in and seeing these people, adults, business owners, successful people, their faces in rapture, singing, ‘Wash your hands in the blood of the lamb.’ They were happy singing, looked at each other or heavenwards with smiles to this gory refrain, faces bright, angelic, saying — singing — smiling about nonsense. Economies whose decisions are based on money are sorry nonsense and soon money will have no currency on earth; money will soon be a thing of the past, as bewildering to Citizens after The Shift as racism and sexism are today.
Money allows for a concentration of power, displacing charisma, talent, and desirable human attributes. We inherit certain limitations from the genes of our parents and this roll of the dice and inherent unfairness of things decided before we were born is part of and a central quality to life — but that anyone can inherit gold, platinum, electrum, an estate or a trust fund that allows er to purchase other people, their labor, their time, that this still occurs in our present age of universal suffrage and human rights is hard to believe. That it ever existed is disheartening, crushing. That anyone anywhere earns interest on er bank accounts for doing nothing is barbaric. Money may only be a medium, but it’s one that values displaced responsibility. Money — business is business — is the collective absolution that allows for death camps, pollution, and the imperialism of war.
Our lives are spent in this world of shared and enforced misery where people see others as trying to take advantage of them — and they are. It’s a get-rich world of an easy solution, an easy steal, of money. A world of tax-writeoffs and economic bubbles and depressions. Ours is a world run by the most successful thieves, those with the collected resources and talent to plunder with repugnant impunity, those who get contracts to both blow up other countries and to rebuild them, who ruin more lives with one LBO and downsizing than the guy waving a gun and collecting the cash register who gets shot, beaten, and thrown in jail. And they’re so damn good at it they don’t have to wear masks. They make the cover of Forbes.
What’s worse on the other end of the spectrum is that you have a society of people who work all day, spend on average an hour commuting back and forth to work, have less and less say in a corporate culture coming home frustrated with less real money and less time than their parents and far less than those people they see in movies and television, sit in their house full of products meant to become obsolete, replaced, another item on the credit card bill, and, mind you, this is the entire nation, they become frustrated, Mr. Hatch. We live in a world of manufactured hate. And they buy it. They have to. Faute de mieux: it’s the only tender circulating. For now.
It takes faith to make any power system produce; the more distortion of value and worth, the more advertising it takes to make the system seem not just natural and just but exciting, tantalizing, divine. Advertising provides that ineffable sense of a better, the intersection of an ineffable world just beyond our ken. Advertisers create a fantasy to surround a product within, to wrap in ethereal packaging of grace. It’s what lets you feel a shudder when the magically transmuted wafer-thin dollop of Christ is placed on your tongue or when you sit in a Lexis. It presents no argument to be refuted; the product is a placeholder in a world built on the need for buying, a personal need like absolution of sin that comes from money’s abstracted, corporate — incorporate — need for every person to be a market, a forced individualism of the dollar and self-sufficient, brought safety and further, soulless investment in a hollow system. This is the emptiness that The Brotherhood is only a metastasized form of, a symptom and symbol of. It is little wonder that there are so many fields fertile for their Disconnected beliefs. It’s a sad world, Mr. Hatch.
But I have faith.
I have faith because any system is ever and only built on faith. Circulating a contrary or non-concurrency undermines the dominant currency’s worth, the ‘consumer faith.’ Consumer faith is ultimately a pyramid scheme and as soon as the base of new believers pulls out, the top falls and dollars become green pieces of paper filling wheelbarrows and Dutch tulips again become flowers. All it takes is enough individuals to pause in their singing and hear the product pipers’ words for what they are: meaningless.