Monthly Archives: September 2019

One Warm Day in September: the Climate Strike and its Meaning for Activism

Friday was a beautiful fall day. The air was crisp and the sun was hot as I marched with friends and around 10,000 Nova Scotians who understand that we, as a species, are in deep trouble. Catastrophic climate change, which I have been writing about for years, stands to threaten our species, as well as every other species on earth, with extinction. This is not hyperbole, it is based on the current scientific consensus. But on that day indigenous, people of colour, people of all faiths and none, families, the elderly, working people, LGBTQ. All of us put aside any differences and came together.

The most wonderful moment for me was the prayer song by Miꞌkmaq women. For several moments the massive crowd was silent, simply raising a clenched fist in the air in solidarity and in defiance of the global economic and political order that has brought us to this point. To the edge of the cliff.

Among the speakers was Darlene Gilbert, a Mi’kmaq grandmother who was arrested for protecting the water from the polluter of Alton Gas. She also courageously confronted Justin Trudeau about his abysmal environmental policies, treatment of First Nations in Canada, and support of pipelines and the cancerous, visible from space, lesion on the face of the planet, the Alberta Tar Sands. Her daughter also spoke with passion about her cultural and sacred heritage of protecting the earth. Every indigenous person I have ever met understands that climate change is real because it is altering, in terrible ways, the ecosystems they revere and depend on.

But what struck me most was to see and hear thousands of young people. To witness their anger at a system that has robbed them, and the global south, of any meaningful future. Many spoke of the short lives they have been granted thanks to a biosphere under attack for the profit of a few. Some decried militarism and colonialism of the poorest nations on the planet. But all of them were present because they understood, on some level, that this is a collective, existential crisis.

In the past I had moments of skepticism. I still do. Not for these young people. Not for the millions of people who gathered in cities around the world to express their anger, but for the corporate, political and military institutions and financial interests who have been trying to greenwash their crimes since the first Earth Day. The ones who see our climate crisis as an opportunity to save capitalism from itself. The tragic thing about this skepticism, though, is that it can often lead to cynicism. A belief that everyone is either out for themselves, or being duped by those who are only out for themselves. And this misanthropic impulse only encourages inaction and apathy.

We can see some of this in the manner Greta Thunberg has been treated. I have read and heard incredibly vile things about the teenager, mostly from the far right, but sadly some coming from people on the left. There is an odd obsession with her, and this has the effect of eclipsing a much broader movement that is beyond the NGOs and corporate greenwashers.  And so it says a lot about our political moment. Many of the people I’ve seen with the most vitriol do not seem to be engaging with anyone else in the movement. They aren’t out on the streets listening to the young or to indigenous peoples who are on the front lines of a war against the biosphere. They are more concerned that Greta Thunberg may be fronting for financial interests rather than understanding that scores of people are actively attempting to shift this narrative against capitalism.

Now, the left can and should be critical of the forces of capital which seek to co-opt any movement for social, economic or environmental justice. I have expressed this in the past and will continue to do so with the hope that people like Greta or the millions of other young activists around the world, will understand these forces and thwart their influence. And we should continue to have the needed conversation with everyone involved in the movement. We should demand an end to imperialism, racism, colonialism, militarism and war, because they are all major contributors to ecological devastation and climate change, as well as enormously destructive to civil liberties and whole societies. But if we fail to engage in a manner that builds solidarity, all of our criticism will merely become talking points for the far right. A successful divide and conquer tactic. And if that happens, everyone, including our fragile and failing biosphere, will lose.

Kenn Orphan   2019

*Note: I will not tolerate cynical or disparaging remarks. I am in no mood to wade into the cesspit of misanthropy and cynicism I see unfolding, especially in social media. I have already analyzed and written tons on this subject. Just search this blog or google it for evidence of that. There is no need to “educate” me or others right now. Be forewarned that they will be deleted, so if you are inclined to do so simply scroll on by.

Veritable Uprising or it’s The (Faux) Real Thing™: Greta and Climate Activism in a Wilderness of Projections

A conversation between Phil Rockstroh and Kenn Orphan.

PR: Kenn, recently, this observation of mine provoked a measure of ire:  Street demonstrations, even large ones, are apropos of nothing as long as they are manifested as de facto state sanctioned protests. A march proceeds, chants are cast into indifferent air, speechifying comes to pass by the usual gasbags then the assembled head home and carry on as usual. Conversely, a strike means job walk-offs — until the strikers demands are met — not walking out and walking back in the next day.

These are not revolutionary activities or even a political movement. Capitalist colonisation has been internalised to such a saturating degree that demonstrations are, in the neoliberal era, designed to be toothless and non-threatening in regard to the structures of capitalist power. Conversely, a strike translates to stopping the flow of capital — otherwise it amounts to enabling business as usual.

KO: It seems that the colonization of consciousness in Western society has become completely seamless that here, in 2019, most of us have been conditioned to accept a modified and sanitized version of dissent. For several years there have been faux forms of dissent, manufactured and peddled by the corporate and political and military/intelligent/surveillance establishments that serve as valves for the public’s general feelings of unease or sense of injustice. Many are focused on youth. How many remember Kony 2012? These are forms of acceptable dissent to the status quo ruling class and even act to suit their goals. Of course climate change and the environment are broader issues that reach beyond that kind of thing, but the same actors are at play in their manipulation.

But this is because there is a real fear, reinforced by example, of how powerful disruptive protest can be. Throwing a wrench into the gears actually gets attention and action. It also shows how brutal and ruthless the current order is against anyone who stands against the status quo in this manner. Occupy and Standing Rock are a couple of those examples. A flood of violence and intimidation washed over those uprisings. So with that in mind, there is a conformity to how many people in so-called Western democracies behave when it comes to protesting power today. And certainly this is what the ruling class wishes. Accepted discourse and dissent within the designated boundaries. There have been a flurry of laws since those protests that seek to criminalize dissent and maintain these boundaries, even branding certain activities or associations as terrorism.

The Mouvement des Gilets Jaunes, or Yellow Vest Movement, in contrast to today’s climate demonstrations reveal how the neoliberal state treats those who dissent in a way that upends power structures. I am not referring to Yellow Vests in Canada or some other places which have taken on a racist, fascistic or xenophobic character, but in France where working people took to the streets, walked out of jobs, and shut down the machinery of society. It was met with breathtaking violence by Macron’s government, and scant mass media coverage. So without a doubt, when people confront actual power structures they will be met with the aggressive repression of the state, not be escorted and protected by police because they got the right permits for free speech zones on the weekends. And their struggle will not get put in glossy photos on the cover of corporate owned magazines.

So now we come to the demonstrations surrounding climate change taking place in cities around the world. Most of these are coordinated, many have NGO support, and all of them are impressive, but very little is disrupted in a way that causes any meaningful discomfort to the forces of capital. Not yet, anyway. There is an incredible interest among the public, which is very encouraging, and young activists are increasingly aware of the corporate manipulations and machinations. There are even some indications that groups like Extinction Rebellion are reaching out to workers, but it remains to be seen how this will unfold, especially since there are some questionable financial backers of this loose knit organization.

What I find troubling, though, is that there is this a demand from many in these demonstrations for governments to “do something.” Which is extraordinary given that it is these very governments, at the behest of the corporations and the military industrial complex who run them, who have caused our crisis to begin with. For instance, little is said to address the enormous military footprint. The US military alone uses 4,600,000,000 gallons of oil every single year. It pollutes the oceans without any consequences and uses sonar that harms sea mammals and fish, this is not to mention the the tremendous human and environmental costs of endless war. And as these climate demonstrations are taking place, the American war machine is ramping up to defend Saudi oil fields. So if there are no demands for the dismantling of this planet killing institution then it will end up a sham.

But without a doubt, Phil, I think the strikes and demonstrations are a starting place for many young people. And it is inspiring to see millions gather in protest, from Nairobi to London to New York to Bangkok. And it is equally encouraging to see more young people wholly reject “green” capitalism and corporate capitalist language like the pseudo “net zero” as opposed to zero carbon emissions. Hopefully they are prepared for the inevitable backlash and repression once they begin to truly disrupt or impede the machinery of capitalism itself, which is now entering its most brutal and final stage.

Solidarity is key to this since no one person can take on this murderous behemoth on their own. The best place to look for wisdom in this regard are indigenous communities, past and present. To look to the global south where environmental activists are being silenced, disappeared and murdered for their dissent.

PR: After the socio-political uprisings of the 1960s, the advertising industry — the capitalist propaganda factory of archetype usurpers — was in crisis. The dark magicians of the trade had sold status consciousness, conformity through fear, and Id lived out by means of consumerism — notions challenged by the non-conformist to social conventions (except their own), anti-materialist creed of the counterculture. The practiced dissemblers of the profession were desperate to retail a novel form of waking dreams, and they settled on retailing hippie harmony and the inherent longing for paradise humans carry within.

Thus we come to the root of the problem for all too many activists responding to the Climate Crisis including  Greta Thunberg, who has become a celebrity thus a vessel for projections, both slanderous and hagiographic. The Greta phenomenon, by its nature provokes, emotional responses from climate denialists (and rightwing soreheads in general) freaked out by a smart, passionate young woman and from those on the left driven by a compulsion to provide paternal protection to her due to her child-like appearance and aura of innocence.

First off, slander inflicted upon her is reprehensible. Her sincerity should not be questioned. Her right to demand a viable future for herself and her fellow young people of the suffering planet is unassailable. What should be avoided are psychological projections upon her, a sixteen year old, whose diminutive, physical stature and open, guileless visage evoke projections of concretised archetypal resonance e.g., the Divine Child arrived on the sin-sullied earth as redeemer figure.

What should be requested of her, to avoid the taint of, inadvertently, playing the role of marketing icon for greed-headed, Davos denizens, who, it is claimed, are deploying the kid, in her toxic naivety, in a high-end, greenwashing bait-and-switch advertising roll out for what the captains of faux green industry have branded, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” — a venture designed to co-opt vehemence for the fate of the earth into adherence to for-profit schemes contrived to circumscribe responses to the Climate Crisis within capitalist models.

To avoid the accusation, Greta should shun tête-à-têtes with the Bono, Dicaprio, Obama et. al. klavern of greenwasher glamour tools and be induced to begin promulgating the fact that the people who are destroying the biosphere of the planet have names and addresses.

Up to the present, she has followed a vague and wonky storyline — thus she has not, as of yet, been considered a threat to capitalist power and has been regarded by the powerful as being relegated to the role of Climate Muppet; hence, she has been provided wide exposure in the capitalist media. To wit, the observation has been posited, if she presented a threat to the status quo of capitalist imperium and the US military (the latter is a major contributor to global wide pollution and the Climate Crisis) she would have remained in obscurity.

This is crucial: Marketing machinations work. Moreover, all too often, self-termed progressives —  the two-legged, smug-ass buffer zone between capitalist power and radical, anti-capitalist movements — have proven themselves prone to swallow whole and internalised even the most cynical PR campaigns (they went round-heeled for Barack Obama, AKA President Fracky von Drone and have  acted as apologists for “humanitarian” bombing campaigns and so-called colour revolutions).

By the evidence, as noted above, Greta is sincere in her intentions. She is alarmed by the Climate Crisis and aims to do good. Yet her naive intentions matter little in the larger scheme of things. What should be avoided: Greta’s presence on the global stage being exploited by capitalist greenwashing profiteers in retailing a (sham) world-changing, “new paradigm,” in the same manner, albeit more sophisticated, as was rolled out by the capitalist dream hijackers in the 1970s when they schemed to usurp antiwar, anti-racism sentiment by means of campaigns similar to the ones that could be contrived for Greta. Here is the most memorable (naive ideology baited and switched to corporate profiteering) campaign of the era:

KO: Greenwashing efforts are undoubtedly in full swing, Phil. Corporations and the military establishment understand very well that the environmental and climate devastation that they have caused is coming full circle. They know full well that as a civilization we have reached a point of no return in regard to species extinction, the collapse of ecosystems, catastrophic climate change and the attendant destabilization of the current political and economic arrangement. And they have been working feverishly to change their brand. While it is easy to point out the willful obtuseness of outright climate change deniers like the bloated orange in chief Trump, it is less easy to parse out the greenwashers.

So then we should be wary that a faux “movement” may be manufactured on the backs of real movements that have sought to upend that political and economic arrangement. And without a doubt, they see Greta Thunberg as the perfect icon for this movement because she presents a genuine, passionate concern for our fate and that of the next generation; but her presence, thus far, is non-threatening to the powers of capital and the military establishment. Perhaps this will change over time as she does identify herself as independent.

That she has rightfully called out the wealthy and powerful for their apathy and other faults is to be lauded, but there are powerful forces who merely wish to rebrand capitalism and create, as you said, a Fourth Industrial Revolution. One which will end up amplifying the damage through its continued privatization and commodification of nature. And they will not touch the military industrial state because it serves to protect capital.

Now, without a doubt, Greta is a remarkable young person; and I think she really fears for the future of this planet, its ecosystems and for her generation. Her words are powerful and she makes things plain about our dire predicament. She wants to make a real difference, and I think that is possible. I celebrate that tenacity and the people she has inspired. And the vitriol, bullying and slander spewed at her by the far right and by repugnant characters like Dinesh D’Souza who compared her to Nazis is utterly reprehensible and should be condemned.

But there is an iconography happening in many quarters that often has the troubling effect of muting our analytical senses. In Paris, for instance, demonstrators lifted a painting of Greta in the style of a medieval icon of a saint with a halo. And this speaks to a sort of spiritual desperation at play, especially as we see ecosystems being mercilessly assaulted, exploited and failing. And among the bourgeoisie it manifests in these kinds of ways.

We should examine this further because, indeed, there is a realization that our collective situation requires a massive paradigm shift which is, in a myriad of ways, psychically transformative. Indigenous societies have long understood this, but have been mostly ignored or have had their sacred beliefs culturally appropriated to conform to the narrative of white, bourgeois, “New Age” consumer society. But all that has been turned on its head in this age of ecological devastation.

And it is this very quality that has been seized upon by the wraiths of capitalism. Those rotting cadavers in suits who are in the business of marketing to save their status and wealth. This is evident in the fact that they have put Greta on the cover of magazines like Time, GQ and Vogue. It is why she gets interviews with Christiane Amanpour. It is why she is seen in photo ops with the fossil fuel, fracking, drone-loving and polluter friendly President Barack Obama, who merely wants to promote his foundation. None of this is to say she agrees with these powerful actors or entities, but they do not view her as a threat as of yet. On the contrary, they see her either as a ratings boost or an asset to their personal aspirations.

Indigenous activists of similar age do not get this kind of treatment because of a legacy of colonial racism and because indigenous peoples are on the frontlines of the war of capital against their homes and the planet itself. Artemisa Xakriabá of Brazil, for example, is relatively unknown in mass media circles. But her message is even more pointed and powerful as she speaks directly about policies of genocide and violence against her people, the Amazon rainforest where she lives, and the biosphere as a whole.

But if Greta dares tell the truth about capitalism and the military industrial complex and its primary role in accelerating climate change and the degradation of the biosphere she will likely be silenced or rendered invisible like Malala Yousafzai. After Malala condemned Obama’s murderous foreign policies and drone strikes and said she was a socialist she was largely disappeared by the corporate media. This was because she no longer represented an image of the benevolent empire and presented the public with the reality of that empire’s avarice fueled belligerence.

To be sure, it is my sincere hope that Greta will see past the ambitions and machinations of those who seek to co-opt her message. I hope she sees through the ruse that their interest is only in saving capitalism and maintaining the militaristic, unjust global order, not in protecting the environment or other species, or addressing climate change, or in the poorest of the earth, or even the next generation; and that they cynically use the intoxication of celebrity to water down passionate activism and funnel it toward status quo banality.

The promising thing is that while her family has some measure of privilege in the cultural and intellectual class in Sweden, I don’t think she cares much for celebrity and I think her heart is in the right place. But naivety in this regard can be quite dangerous too. These interests are moneyed and well connected. And the consensus they need relies on a public that acquiesces to their desires and values. A public that has been conditioned to respond, emulate and even celebrate the brutal precepts of capitalism and the authoritarianism of the ruling elite. In time and with insight and experience perhaps she will be able to thwart such manipulations.

PR: Thus the citizenry of capitalist dictatorships of wealth, wherein the economic elite own mass media and control the political class, the debate is framed in a narrow manner — to wit, anticapitalist perspectives are excluded yet the illusion of a contrapuntal dynamic is in play but the reality, outside of the empty-headed, highly circumscribed fury of it all, moneyed interests will have prevailed, in this case, the agendas of greenwashing grifters.

The Greta phenomenon should prove less than complicated to suss out, from a leftist perspective, with the exception of those whose approach and perceptions are gripped by magical thinking and/or a host of the kind of saviour projections that arrive in psychical constellation — and are concretised— around the archetype of the Divine Child.

Suggestion: follow the money and whom or what will benefit from her presence in the public sphere i.e., the suffering biosphere of the planet or Davos-type denizens who are rolling out a for-profit agenda they have branded, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution.” It evinces dangerous naivety to believe that oppressors and exploiters will be moved to empathy by being informed of the suffering experienced by those they oppress and exploit. The power to profit from oppression and exploitation must be neutralised. Moreover, the capitalist overclass, history reveals, do not surrender an inch without a brutal struggle by organised countervailing forces and never will be moved to surrender power by pleas to a conscience that they do not possess.

There is the banality of evil and then there is the evil of banality, and the mode of perspective defines the capitalist controlled thus intrinsically narrow parameters of mainstream discourse.  Result: A worldview persists that reduces earth, sky, psyche, even language to inanimate phenomenon only viable as monetised transactions. The worldview provoked a sacred vehemence in Lorca when he observed what he regarded as the commodified deathscape of New York City:

“I attack all those persons/ who know nothing of the other half,/ the half who cannot be saved,/ who raise their cement mountains/ in which the hearts of the small/ animals no one thinks of are beating.” — Federico García Lorca, excerpt: New York (Office and Attack)

Yet through it all, one has a choice, a choice all but banished from the commodified mind: One can glimpse the numinous in the architectural wonders of a termite cathedral or a constellation of coral reef — or a line of Joycean prose. The mind can be a garbage barge or a cathedral spire; a snort of mindless dismissal or an aria so damn beautiful it haunts heaven. Or one’s consciousness can be taken in by the capitalist-confined debate between equally cynical climate denialists and greenwashing profiteers as the soul becomes desiccated and the mind is churned to spittle…as the world’s oceans die, the Arctic burns, and exquisite things disappear forever.

Kenn Orphan is a writer, artist, antiwar and anti-capitalist activist, hospice social worker and radical nature lover living in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living, now, in Munich, Germany. He may be contacted: and at

Bearing Witness at Aeon’s End: The Wound Becomes the Womb

Another collaborative dialogue with Phil Rockstroh.

PR: Kenn, this question haunts me: Is it still possible, amid constant inundation by the mass and social media simulacrum, for literature, poetry or a music to rouse the heart and foment rebellion against one’s complicity in what amounts to a bondage of sensibility? Naturally, we are given to outrage but, for the most part, it is directed, if we are honest, at our own sense of powerlessness against the mind-stupefying roil of events.

The decimated fauna and flora of the earth are not dying a natural death; the living things of the planet are in the process of being fatally wounded by abuse. As, all the while, all pervasive — therefore invasive — culture of electronic distractions negates apprehension, connection, and communion with the breathing moment. The things of the world that sustain us, body and soul, are dying from both abuse and neglect. Enervated by a sense of emptiness, we seek palliative relieve in manic distractions. We are retailed visual piffle, comprised of celebrity culture and media hype. A contrivance of media-borne mirages — a shell game deploying electronic phantasmagoria, usurping the mind, waylaying desire into precincts of capitalist exploitation — a clip joint shakedown operation.

There is a dopehouse quality to capitalism-inflicted insularity. All too many have been transformed into ghosts of empty appetite. By being estranged from larger orders of our souls and the soul of the world (anima mundi), the citizens of consumer imperium have been rendered down to manic, mindless spirits — death-besotted spirits susceptible to the ersatz eros of fascist spectacle. A toxic red tide of MAGA hats rise and agitate a sea of inert souls. A death cult of economic elite sacrifice flesh before an alter of an insatiable god — an incorporeal deity manifested as protean formations of electrons — an invisible god yet oceanic in its quality of obliterating empathetic imagination in a drowning tide of impersonal craving.

Cyber Addiction by Paco Afromonkey Puente

An animal-in-a-cage restlessness is inherent to capitalist modernity. An aura of boredom, fraught with free-floating, nebulous angst, is a constant presence. Historically, there is always the danger of bourgeoisie restlessness and chronic discontent transforming into the sickness of the collective soul known as fascism. Unnerving to witness: Fascism, with its insistence on tangible verities and aggrandisement of action, becomes a desperate attempt to experience freedom by means of a literalizing of death.

Freud averred suicide is an urge to homicide turned inward.  A pandemic of suicide is plaguing the US working class. James Hillman averred, after much study and contemplation on the subject (an early analysand of his committed suicide) when one turns to suicide, the individual is attempting to kill a psychical complex – not oneself. The misapprehension arrives by being afflicted with the phenomenon R. D. Laing termed the False Self and Friedrich Engels termed capitalist false consciousness.

Engels ascribed the process to the phenomenon as the self value system of the capitalist ruling class becoming internalised by the working class, and contact pathos of exposure to the economic elite’s Cult of Success mythos and concomitant mode of mind and modus operandi bristling with manic compensation — to wit, the striving, obsessive, winged, grounding-bereft, split off half of despair. Yet an individual cannot remain airborne, mortals that we are, ad infinitum.

The manic Spirit, enthralled and intoxicated by its own scintillating glow, by compulsion, ascends while the Soul, by nature, makes chthonic descents. Rilke compared the Orphic impulse to a tree — whose roots reach into the singing loam of the earth as its branches are played like the strings of a lyre by the winds of spirit. The Dead must be engaged, their laments acknowledged, or their beckoning will grow into the overpowering admonition of a Death Drive.

Walker Percy limned the psychical landscape thus:

“Death in the form of death genes shall not prevail over me, for death genes are one thing but it is something else to name the death genes an d know them and stand over against them and dare them. I am different from my death genes and therefore not subject to them. My father had the same death genes but he feared them and did not name them and thought he could roar out old Route 66 and stay ahead of them or grab me and be pals or play Brahms and keep them, the death genes, happy, so he fell prey to them.” — Percy, Walker, excerpt from The Second Coming

The capitalist paradigm is held in the thrall of its inherent death genes. By ecocide or economic collapse (events that will cause the system to reveal its true countenance i.e., fascism) — or by nuclear annihilation, capitalists will succumb to their internalised Thanatopic admonitions. In short, there must come an economic/socio/cultural sea change or the beckoning of the Dead to join them in endless song will prove too potent to resist.

Ecocide by Carlita Shaw

KO:  I have been thinking about the absurdity of this age and its delusional mythos a lot lately, Phil. What does it mean to succeed on an increasingly brutal, unequal, unjust and dying world? To attain the hollow grandeur and lucre promised by capitalist mythology? This is an age of stark contradiction where the vaunted and self-insulated “captains of industry” reside within a fragile bubble of a new gilded age. All around us countless species of our biosphere shriek in agony. Ancient forests are felled in a nanosecond. Sprawling coral reefs are bleached to a white, enduring death within days or terribly sullied by damaged oil tankers. And all around us the working class are getting poorer and their population is growing. The rich are getting richer, and fewer. Yet the spectacle continues and grows ever more absurd, more disconnected from reality. And I cannot help think that this is what the ruling class wishes. After all, they have no idea how to fix our collective predicament without dismantling the economic, political and social order that produced and perpetuates it.

When I see the pervasive influence and concurrent numbness induced by the holograms of social media and the surveillance state I am reminded of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. These projections on the wall, holograms of reality, are ubiquitous. Everyone has a portable cave handy, carrying them in pockets or purses.

Internet Storm by Tomasz Czerwinski

Screens that alert us to the projected shadows. The things we are told are important. The spectacle. But most of the contents are meaningless images that reinforce depravity, as well as alienation and emptiness. A deceitful mirror that informs us on how we should look, or think, or act. And to never question the order itself. And the insidious sway of this over our consciousness is by design, whether intentional or not, because it emanates from the halls of capital. So then our minds are colonized by the most powerful and moneyed colonizers in all of human history. Yet most of us have difficulty understanding where our agency is curtailed. And this is understandable, because the labyrinth is opaque.

Guy Debord had the prescience to understand this power and how it worked before the age of the internet or social media:  “Where the real world changes into simple images, the simple images become real beings and effective motivations of hypnotic behavior.”   This is how social media maintains itself and perpetuates a false reality. Social media, through the manipulation of the brains neurochemicals has created a stranglehold on scores of people. Thus, the person who has it withheld may experience anxiety or even panic, a kind of withdrawal.

But this is a sort of mania defines the capitalist order itself. And so this order has a pernicious effect on every one of us because the world is, with few exceptions, under the domination of capitalism and the “imperial” court who benefits from it.

PR: Kenn, a question, then a poetic digression, of which the latter is political, but not in an overt manner.

How does one spend the fleeting hours of this finite life? Is it possible to escape being held in the thrall of internalised colonisation, a psyche-shackling phenomenon that usurps the days of one’s existence? We are confronted by systemic economic control, inherent to the capitalist order, over both the quality and criteria of one’s existence that hijacks the day, renders barren the womb of the earth’s oceans and seas, and scours away by light pollution the stars. An economic order, conceived for the exclusive benefit of a loose-knit, yet unified by their mutual cupidity, clutch of capitalist ghouls. Hyperbole? Do these ghouls not live off of the flesh of the earth and devour the hours of the lives of the powerless multitudes held in servitude to their insatiable greed?

One cannot reclaim what has been lost to time. One cannot conscript coffin dust in the service of eros. Materialism, both economic and philosophical, have wrought a wasteland, of both landscape and mindscape. Yet the breathing moment resounds with birth cries. The archetype of the redeemer god (examples include, Tammuz; Osirus; Dionysus; Orpheus; Jesus Christ; Attis; Mithras; Horus; Krishna; Persephone) exists in the human psyche — we are held, gripped and grappled, undone, and restored by agencies that are not going to be expelled by materialist credo. Archetypal criteria will hold profound influence over the lives of humanity — all as, by reflex, literalism borne of materialist dogma will leave all too many cold and alienated. To wit, the least important — even irrelevant and counterproductive — question is, whether or not the gods are literal figures because, in regard to the human psyche, Mundus Imaginalis is reality.

How does the archetype of the redeemer god relate to the human psyche and the death swoon of the capitalist order?

When the season of a systemic structure that determines the mode of being of individuals languishing within the decaying system has passed, it is crucial that moribund perceptions of oneself and how one regards the world are pruned away. Applying the lexicon of Mundus Imaginalis, one is confronted with the early spring agonies (“April is the cruelest month”) of Dionysus or, as is the case with Persephone, an autumnal descent into the underworld — there, like a brooding seed, it is possible for the psyche to dream a new psychical order — thus novel societal arrangements — into existence. For example, a drunk’s dismally circumscribed by his bondage to the bottle existence can be broken by a rearrangement of the psyche; thereby, his life is broadened and deepened by ceasing an habitual reliance on alcohol previously utilised to mitigate the stressors of the day and torments of past trauma.

Path to Shambhala by Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947)

Widespread consumer addiction is a form of collective, negative enchantment. Sanity insists, the spell must be broken. Yet the God of Reason’s admonitions do not prove propitious in a struggle against addiction because its verities are drowned out by the cultural cacophony of a commodified madhouse, whereby Mundus Imaginalis has taken the form of a 24/7, consciousness devouring, mass and social media-borne phantasmagoria. Conversely, trauma and concomitant neurotic compulsions that haunt the mind and paralyse the eros of modernity can be transformed by artistic engagement. The wound becomes the womb thereby birthing novelty. The grail, at last, at the lips of the languishing, near-death, couch potato king restores the land.

Languishing in middle age, from the reality of his imagination, Dante Alighieri became lost in a dark woods, his path blocked on one side by a hungry she-wolf and on the other by a threatening leopard. But a pagan poet arrives on scene, Virgil, protagonist of the Aeneas, a witness to the folly that was the Trojan War and consequential destruction of Troy. Only by passing through the black, iron-wrought gates of Hell, bearing the admonition, ““Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate” (“Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here”) and, later in the epic poem, only after he, led by Virgil, must pass across the loins of Satan in the frozen Ninth Circle would Dante be granted a glimpse, upon entering Purgatory, of Beatrice’s transformative beauty framed in the spheres of Paradise.

The quality of lostness is the redeemer god’s dominion, the baffling terrain on which we are stranded at capitalist eon’s end.  Thus I have made a home in being lost.

But the question persists, how does one spend one’s days?

KO: Time is perhaps, as Einstein once averred, an illusion. And yet we experience it. We sense its passing and not just by numbers, but by what we truly sense. With each new wrinkle on the face, each new diminished ability, each child passing through years of development into adult bodies. So we pass the time, so to speak, regardless of whether we are intentionally doing it. But to live mindful of this is the challenge. And I am loath to use that term given the nauseating manner in which it has been twisted in order to justify each new demoralizing and diminishing assault by the lords of Capital on the working class. But this era demands a new kind of mindfulness, one which turns everything on its head.

I remember wandering through the catacombs of Paris several years ago and marveling at the ancient artistry of this underground necropolis. Here was a place built for the dead. A place not to be seen by the masses. Yet now the masses tromp through its’ dusty passages daily, snapping selfies and posting check-ins. Now many modern artists have made graffiti masterpieces in some of the unused tunnels. And so your mention of art and “the wound becomes the womb” made me think of this for some reason. And I think it is the association of art with death, because death, and its constant looming over all who are mortal, is the regisseur of artistic expression.

Modern graffiti art in the Catacombs of Paris

The Redemption in this age must come, as it always has, from radical artists, poets, writers, mystics and philosophers, because they are the most radically dangerous to the order itself. Their resistance to conformity, racism, militarism, the commodification of nature, and blind, rapacious consumerism, presents the greatest challenge to a hegemony which cannot expunge the reality of its destructive nature. It can no longer hide the carnage. As Yemen endures carpet bombing and a manufactured famine and Kashmir and Gaza resist an engineered genocide, refugees flee their homelands in Syria, Honduras and Myanmar, as countless species succumb to habitat loss and pollution, and as the Bahamas lie in ruins from climate changed, angry skies and rainforests in the Amazon, Angola and Australia unnaturally burn to ash, we are all witness to the trajectory of unfettered capitalist, militarism, and industrial exploits. Indigenous peoples on every continent face the brunt of this, of course. But we are all indigenous to this besieged earth. We are born of its loam and kin to every breathing species that crawls, slithers, burrows in it or that flies above it.

So at this eon’s end, as you say, I think we are called to bear witness as we traverse its bitter, blood drenched killing fields. But also to tread with care and with arms locked in solidarity with others who have been cast off, devalued by the imaginary calculus of capital. Those on the margins of empire. Those disappeared or assigned annihilation because of the imaginary borders in which they live, or their dearth of societal status or material wealth, or whom they spend their lives with and love, or their caste, gender, skin pigment, religious affiliations or individual peculiarities. And to reignite a reverence and kinship with the myriad of species outside our own. Those that have been commodified and reduced to barcodes.

To be lost with the lost. I think this is our species last, best hope for redemption.


Title artwork for this piece is a colourized version of the Flammarion wood engraving. The artist is unknown but it became popular after it appeared in Camille Flammarion’s book L’atmosphère: météorologie populaire (“The Atmosphere: Popular Meteorology”) in 1888. It is often associated with both the scientific and mystical or mythic quests for wisdom and knowledge.