I happened on a room or a suite at the top of a building with little areas dotting the luxurious but otherwise spare penthouse apartment.
In the room, various individuals were standing and talking to each other. When I passed one, a man. He stood above what appeared to be his belongings and his name was Tom. He was taller, a bit red-faced, pudgy. He wore a plaid, long-sleeved Pendelton. He was balding but I could tell his hair was brown. He looked over at me as I was coming toward the group, but he continued his conversation: “As an entire country, we are being brain-washed, within the confines of a mass media, we’ve been told what to believe, how to look at the world. Although our eyes, ears, and mouths are the same, we still think a certain way that is controlled. My belief in God was laid across my brain as an early teething blanket destined to calm my fears, which were great, where I knew I needed my mother and father.”
There were beds, actually, mattresses on the floor, say a lamb’s skin throw rug here and a little lamp on the floor over there. You had to be careful when stepping through the obstacle course of these belongings. It was like a dorm room for adults. It turned out that the people were living there. Total strangers had come together with barely any belongings, and they would have parties and they would invite other strangers and I noticed a packet of candy with my name on it and a list of email addresses of people I knew. It was like someone had gone on my computer and printed them out. They were apparently being passed around as if I were the host of the party, but I didn’t know any of these people.
Tom continued speaking: “My mother asks in her late age, why she’s still in the hospital and I tell her, it is because of her Alzheimer’s and that is because she never used the mathematical side of her brain. And now, she’s further indoctrinated by the television, which provides her with a conservative view of everything, or frankly it doesn’t matter because so long as it sells fear, the television stations are fine because then the products will be sold as the answer to their loss of safety and control, but then we are never really in control…”
Someone I know from the past, Mark, says: “All of them were part-time workers, working at various companies, but were connected by the idea of harvested e-mail addresses. They would have dinner and even sex together, in this seeming business financial district frat house of temporarily-employed people. I looked out the windows, which were apparently one-way mirrors and saw a man, who seemed to be running from something. He had the demeanor of a purse-snatcher and I watched what seemed to be a chase being carried out on the roof as I looked over the room.
Tom is still talking: “We wake up in the morning and run to work and the guinea pig wheel houses us rather nicely and we see very little of the outside world, and while it isn’t quite like us; it is still being led by the same strictures.” Some in his group look at him and nod their heads while also watching the man on the roof being apprehended by men with suits and those Secret Service-like earplugs. They stop him easily. It is just one guy actually, a normal-seeming guy, who grabs his arm and suspends him in pain.
Mark tells me there are lots of these types of living arrangements, where people work for a temp company and move from temp job to temp job and they house these stables of business types, who are just normal people with no extended families. They have no contacts other than these temporary “friends.” They have no health care, no accumulated wealth, nothing, just what’s around their feet. They live day-to-day and they never know what their next job will be until they get a slip of paper the night before indicating where they’ll be heading in the morning.
“Capitalism is the Elephant in the room,” Tom continues, “and the psychopathic conquerors are unavoidable in their destructive tendencies.”
You had to wonder by Tom’s conversation why he was so antagonistic toward the set-up. It seemed comfortable. A couple of nights ago I was watching the love of my life climb under a freeway over pass and into the arms of a large muscle-bound man who gave me dirty looks as he moved her into the darkness, where he had a dirty mattress and garbage strew about. It was clear she and I were over. I’d lost the 5-plex in Berkeley, which after the earthquake was tagged for demolition. I still had $699,000 due on the mortgage. I’d lost my job. I was grateful to have found these people.
The set-up reminded me of an idea Slavoj Zizek put forth, where he said that Jewish people were the only group that maintained their heritage and practices to the letter, while others seemed to have disbanded and a result of this were these ‘individuals,’ who had no common characteristics except this worker pool atmosphere. It reminded me of the Chinese dorm rooms at the companies that made Apple products, who lived in bunk rooms, but didn’t know each other and yet they worked long hours, and slept inches from each other. They were fed in cafeteria-like environments and dressed alike.
I could hear Tom in the background: “In fact, that’s what we can continue to look forward to, the eyes and glare of the psychopath taking out his rage that his father was never there to help his mother care for them and now the self-destruction is certain, if you breed destruction yourself, destruction as a nation, as a world…” I stopped listening to Tom for a second.
I felt a tinge of sadness. I used to believe that we needed to get together and help each other but I never imagined that his would be done akin to slavery, where the worker paid his wages for a space on the floor and he or she was trapped but certainly equal on this level to all the other people. But you could tell, someone owned the suite and someone was organizing us, or at least garnering the benefit of our desperation and loneliness.
“This is the end we should expect,” Tom was somehow making sense. He kept going. “If it is every man-for-himself, then the families have no chance. If it is that the strange shall survive and the weak perish, then that’s all that’s left.”
The crows outside reminded me of the precarious state we were in, where the whole country seemed to be looking over a cliff. Organization as we know it will be fundamentally broken. Kaypacha, an Internet-based astrologer, said in 2013, “Why doesn’t everyone just go bankrupt?” Apparently they had. What’s left when you still have to eat and sleep? I remembered the idea that our savings is our freedom, which is what Bejan would say when I was waiting tables before the 4-plex and the earthquake.
Tom said, “I don’t see a happy ending, where in the back of all the action is the inevitable personality of our nation, of people in general, a kind of Lord-of-the-Flies system of doing things.
“Just look at ourselves, what makes up our day? What are we constantly thinking? It is intimacy and the desire to be close to someone to share our fears, and to the efforts we must instill, just to deceive ourselves into making it? We are exhausted, focused, with blinders on, but there’s no other way but controlled acquisition and mergers with the intent of a deluded status of self-sufficiency and general independence? Are our hearts no longer the organ making the world sunny, or is it for men only the desire to penetrate and for women to receive and then manipulate by guilt the sacrifice of another person for their self-preservation? And yet love makes us give everything, we think, for a greater good, but that good is only slavery? After all, we’ve been trained so well that if we don’t do what they say, we are terrorists and they’ll lock us?” Tom questioned.
“We are reacting to the inevitable pressures that are upon us as ‘desiring machines’ in the middle of a life cycle. Let us now go into the other room and make babies, and let the next generation do what we did, as a second of pleasure.
“Even the criminal knows this pattern, and I believe they call this life.” Tom concluded.