by Z.S Allen
Stream-of-consciousness manifesto about everything you think about lying in bed at night.
An Essay on Everything and Anything I Hold True
It appears that the days of the fearless and enlightened writer are narrowing; the great intellectual minds who wrote with instinct and electricity and painted their words, the Da Vinci’s of diction; they are a forgotten, dying breed. What has come of these men whose prose could ignite and inspire generations---the Emerson’s, Dickens’, Keats’, Poe’s, Melville’s, Hesse’s, Huxley’s, Whitman’s, Ginsberg’s and Kerouac’s? What would have come if not for these men who both captured and captivated the minds of the people? It’s an answerless question, but if the minds of the people become lost or abandoned, so too will the people. I’ve learned that words are powerful instruments when meticulously organized and perfected; books change people to their core, to their soul. I don’t believe I’ve written enough yet to reach that level of influence, but I’m trying.
Only now am I beginning to understand the meditation in writing, so I labor away for hours typing and penning things that may or may not matter to people, just for the sake of practice and honing my craft. Until now I’ve been more of a ‘let the dam build up and up, until that catastrophic moment when the concrete crumbles, the levies break loose, and out rolls a tidal wave of emotion and literary spew’ for me to sit back and scribble down. I can literally feel the words building up sometimes, angrily kicking and screaming at my conscience for not letting them flow neatly onto an my empty page in my customary torrents of jibberjazz and revolution. I think the key right now for me as a writer is just to experience everything and anything; to observe and glorify and learn through adventure.
Writing is about everyone else except the writer sometimes. He writes the story for the audience, but attempts to capture the intent of his soul. He struggles and claws away with whiskey and tired eyes, trying his best to capture the tumultuous underbelly of the restless monster within; hone it and polish it in a way that people might be able to comprehend, and it’s not until it’s released among the chattering critics of the public that he will see if his effort to Polaroid his anxious soul has any blossoming potential.
But the bigger picture for me is this; I want to change the way people see our world. Plain and simple, as bold and terrifying a task scary as Lucifer himself is my monster and my inevitable undertaking. I’m not aiming to tear down the entire system and start an anarchic revolution; my only interest is opening up new trains of thought and changing the lens through which people see their future, their world, and the billions of paths to success now overgrown with dusty cobwebs and thorny brush from years of neglect. I want to open eyes, bright glimmering eyes of blues, browns, hazels, blacks, everything and anything. There is so much potential and opportunity in this world outside of the normal A to B lifestyle imposed and expected of us; it crushes the heart to watch the brilliant minds of my generation bursting full of life and enthusiasm, falling absentmindedly into the hustle-n-bustle lifestyle of the average and ordinary. Why can’t they see their free will? Everyone simply adheres to the notion that when you grow up, you can’t have fun… “Do it while you’re still young and aren’t tied down,” I hear. Well, why not just do it regardless of your age, just for shits and gigs?
Why do people aspire to grow up and talk about work, the family, their recent vacations—all of this small talk where no discussion breaches surface emotion. Nobody sits down and talks anymore. What happened to the conversations that are so full of stinging emotion and impassioned truth, that you and your companion are literally exhausted from the depth? There just doesn’t seem to be Time anymore. For this reason alone, I have a deep knowing in my heart that Mr. Time and I will never, ever get along. We’re just not fit for one another. I spend my days trying to beat out merciless old Time, but he holds his ground like a mountain, unmoving; he’s a cruel bastard.
. . .
I’m still at war with the system that I’ve angrily spattered and wrestled onto the pages of many articles and satires, and in actuality the topic has grown to be a burden. This criminal, intent on the destruction of free will and our glimmering souls, still weighs heavily on my conscience as I watch him package my peers nice, neat, and tidy until they’re tossed onto the human assembly line. The metal croaks and creaks by as human becomes machine with autopilot installed, until the moment; when their tie is tied just right, their suit is iron-fresh pressed, and they walk into the single-file crowds hopping on dreary, heartbroken subways and through pot-holed streets, gazing at giant gray towers with smiles and ignoring the pure and true blue above which offers no money. It’s a depressing scene, something out of a manufacturing handbook or a new-hire employee video; the system shows you everything you need to fit in: exactly how to act, what to wear, how to do the job, and how to be just like every other machine.
This topic is getting old on me however and I’ve said about all that I can say. I’ve told the same story over and again, mixing and matching prose and crafty angles to avoid the dreaded “this story is boring, next page...,” of which frightens me more than Death himself. So this is my last gasp, my final Hurrah in my traditional fiery foray—this battle is nearly over. I need to take a whack at something new, something fresh and never before seen…something daring and experimental with all the makings of the next ‘Finnegan’s Wake,’ ‘Leaves of Grass,’ or ‘One the Road;’ something bursting with life---adventures through thick impassable jungles, journeys across third-world continents, impossible free falls from space, or treks to Dante’s hell and back. There must be madness and magic and real-lifeness and revolution with tragedy and euphoria; for to write something immaculate is a dream.
. . .
That said, onward with the final ambush… We have claimed this planet as our own the minute we humans took our first infant steps, a time when nature was God. As intellect spread, simple inhabiting turned to domination on a world scale as we chopped, burned, and polluted our way through history—no questions asked. But what we have gained in technology, mathematics, science, literature, medicine and music we have kicked out onto the cold, dark, sullen streets. We--the greatest flesh-and-blood creatures in our solar system, have let our accomplishment fall victim to an unimaginable evil who shall be introduced as Greed. We are smarter and more connected than ever before, yet we are further from one another than ever before.
We are becoming pawns to a massive game of CEO versus Politician, the modern day story of the Titians like Zeus and Poseidon, only we don’t sacrifice to their statues yet. They fight and fetter back and forth, sending their legions of lobbyists into our country’s greatest monuments--the marble masterpieces given to us by our forefathers as colossal declarations of truth, freedom, and integrity; the pulsing core of our great land, and the inspiration and motivation to all of those famished, black-faced, ragged immigrants who founded this masterfully assembled country---to take care of any threat to the status-quo and robbing our blissfully unaware minds of any last bit of voice. This all occurs under the flag that was stitched together to stand for a free people. The flag that has seen revolution and civil war now glares over widespread hypocrisy and injustice. What happened to the American spirit, the muse for our flag which waved hole-ridden and brave over Fort Sumter and has been hoisted by heroic men liberating masses of terrified skeletons from judgeless death and chronic war in far-away lands?
We have become slaves. Slave to substances raining down from the thick, dense pharmaceutical clouds commanded by drug kingpins who have created a clever band-aid for nearly every disease or ailment under the moon, and who hire professional propagandists and sociologists to make certain that the masses understand that they need this heart-burn medicine to cure the stomach pains wrought out of the fast-food empire that we sprint to between business meetings and blackberry phone calls to Japan. It’s the new circle of life for the average American: work, work, work, eat at the drive through, drive, drive, drive, work, work, work, and hurt, hurt, hurt, until your doctor hands you prescriptions on paper with the brand name of the same substance they were lobbied to give you. It’s a fantastic scheme, it works like a charm, or a genie in a bottle perhaps, but the foolish fools are missing their saintly morals. What happened to mom serving you fruit and veggies to keep the pharmacy doctor away?
The vast circle of life as we know it is creeping upon us, haunting our dreams until one night we all shriek awake in the dead of night with glimmers of cubical desks and electric bills in our nightmare-stricken eyes. We drive to work listening to “It’s Friday, tomorrow is Saturday, and Sunday comes after-wards,” on the radio. We stagger into work having forgotten our coffee and pound a few 5-Hour energies to fuel our bodies to analyze last month’s sales figures and type up press releases for stockbrokers; and then we crash, and re-amp with a coffee and some McDonalds before digging in deep for the last crucial hours of our painstakingly pointless work—the brutal conclusion after hours and hours of sifting and regurgitating words and statistics. Our life has little life left, our once imaginative and exciting lives of laughter, creativity, adventure and mishap turned into the perfect portrait of a tried-and-true American. Conformation is the single acceptable path to success in the corporate world, the polar opposite of the real world where the requirement is reaching your full potential in something you’re talented and in love with. That’s the key to success in the real world.
*“Why spend so much of your life just trying to prove yourself? Why waste 30+ years trying to make yourself good enough for other people to understand that you are, indeed, good enough for their company, their firm? Hmmm, yeah, why am I doing this to myself, spending $7,000 to $30,000 per-semster, or more, just to get the best education, and get a leg up. Well, most likely because that seems to be the ONLY option, the way it's been done for hundreds of years, because that's what everyone expects you to do... Why would anyone want to change the model that's worked out for the wealthy 1% that earns over a million a year? "I could be next, I could be the rags-to-riches story of the future," I could be just like Bill Clinton who grew up in a shack, and became President of the United States of America. That WILL be me. May be that will be you, but for the majority of us, there isn't enough ROOM at the top for all of our dreams to come true. Somebody has to do the dirty work, some of us have to fail.”
“I hear all the time, and see people spouting out "Live in the Now," "Be your own person," "Live in the moment." But yet, nobody actually does it. I feel bad calling everyone hypocrites, myself included, but that's exactly what we all are--the harsh truth of it. If you literally want to Live in the Moment, then there is no future for you to be dreaming about. There is no chance of failure, only progress. Progress...hmm.. I won't say "only happiness," because that's not true, there is no chance of everything ALWAYS working out exactly how your want, because there are no highs without some lows. But what I'm saying is, if you don't mold your present to meet your future aspirations, then there's a good chance that you will make the most out of life. You know, the whole reason we're here in the first place. Why not enjoy all of life, the whole howevermanyyears of it, and not just the last 40-50 of it. Do what You want, for yourself and those who join you on your quest for the opportunity to live in the moment. If you want to do something, why let the model of society stop you? High school+good college education+lots of sucking up=Money, power, and happiness.”
From now until I’m resting peacefully in my organic grave from a car crash, a stray bullet from a misunderstood drive-by, a hard night gone awry, or the peacefullest death by age, I will hail all of those who choose the alternative route, the outside-the-box thinkers-- those curious, bewildered, and mystical souls who don’t think in rights and wrongs or north and south, or hearken to the call of reality as-is. These are the people who have the internal drive and willingness to give up everything of themselves to benefit the greater cause, whatever their personal “greater cause” may be. Those that follow their heart and listen to their mind are those who don’t need the material wealth to raise their eternal smiles, they curse the unjust and criminal of all kind, and are fueled by the courageous and ever-fighting spirit of humanity—the muse of the roaming and wandering prophets of our generation.
“There’s battle lines being drawn, Nobody ‘s right if everyone is wrong, Young people speaking their minds, Are gettin’ so much resistance from be-hind… A thousand people in the street, singing songs and carryin’ signs, Most sayin’ ‘Hurray’ for our side…-Buffalo Springfield” was the old anthem. It’s time for a new calling, a new anthem to stand behind with determination and spirit. We need people who visualize a powerful, free-living, free-loving culture with righteous people in righteous places doing righteous things. Imagine a world where imagination had merit and hard-working people earned what they deserved. “Imagine” being the key word.
The feeling I get from people these days is similarly reflected in the music we listen to. It’s amazing how musicians can often capture, or are inevitably victims to the culture of the youth generation. They are held to a non-contracted symbiotic bond that cannot easily be broken unless their wits are reinstilled, or the culture of the generation is turned on its head. I’m a firm believer that the pen is just as powerful as the guitar, and that the sword is made of glass. What I’m getting at is that our music is good, it’s new, it’s experimental, it’s vibrant and changing constantly, yet it’s lacking the most important thing of all—Soul. There’s no mistaking it, you can’t find a song today that has the soul of Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, Van Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, and all of the soul-drenched anthems of the greatest musical era to ever sweep an angry nation. They knew what their audience wanted to hear about and they told any record producer or corporate suit to stay out of the music. Once business gets its blood thirsting, money squandering, sweaty pen-wielding palms on anything worth a damn in this world, you can toss a flower into that casket and say your goodbyes, my friend…and that is the truest sentence I’ve ever written.
Lately I’ve been consumed with the idea of a “generation” and all that it entails. What is it exactly? It’s a word that carries the force of a monarchy, of a billion people, of immeasurable scale and potential, yet, I’m still helpless as to give it a definition of certainty despite what they say in Webster’s.
How do you clearly define the generation of YouTube, of computer excellence, of declining attention spans, of electronic and pop music overloaded with lyrically destitute Billboard Top 100’s, of Painkillers, Google, Xbox 360, PS3, Call of Duty, of mistaken identities, of declining literacy, of rap music and dead hip-hop, of Atheism, of Dope-fiends, of LoUd BaSs, of ignorance, of Katrina, of Joblessness, of Bush and Obama, of questions, of carelessness, of Lil Wayne and Wiz Khalifa, of Obesity, of virtual Lives, of Facebook and Myspace and Xanga, of McDonalds and fast food, of calculators and defeated cursive, of D.A.R.E, of Raging, of fast cars, fast nights, fast lives, fast women, fast, fast, go, go, of homosexual and heterosexual, of college graduate and college dropout, of independence and freedom, of desire, of fire, of Cell Phones and iPods, of machines and outsourcing, of 9/11 and Iraq, of distrust and misuse, of Climate Change and Global Warming, of Swine Flu and MRSA, of high spirits, of hope, of mellow, of tolerance, of illegal and medicinal marijuana, of Incubus and the Chili Peppers, of hope, of Tea Partiers, of energy drinks, of lost Soul, of anti-creativity, of Greed and material needs, of Jersey Shore and Teen Mom, of rules and dwindling freedom, of always and never, of sex, lies, and the yet to be. We are… the voiceless, the disconnected and mildly disconcerted. We have the universe; the deepest oceanic trenches full of myth and mystery and creatures beyond our imagination; the torrid deserts of lifelessness and grit, the star-freckled vastness of space and beyond, we have EVERYTHING.
*“What is there to be said about a man with no dreams, fueled only by ambition and naivety? “He had all of the potential of the world and no guide, what a pity.” Give me endless tarmac and green fields as far as the eye can see. Give me a graffiti-strewn train car with the old wooden sliding doors and a good book to pass the lonely time.
The road is where I’m heading, somewhere between somewhere and nowhere. A void of unknown that harbors as much mystery as it does history. The great teacher that is yet to teach, but is bursting with lessons not yet learned and experiences not yet had. But that's just my path, we're all in this together though, ya know?
From the backwoods of the old south where toothless moonshine drinkers still live in the old segregation, to our great cities of industry and gold, fallen to ruin when American muscle decayed into a hellish misery of greed, crumbled brick, and rusted, twisted steel.”
*“Where are our great leaders? Where is the voice of our generation? Where is our generation? What have we done to think ourselves as better suited to lead this country back to the top where it ruled like the great Romans had?
There’s a world out there full of mystery and untapped desire. Our planet is ripe, teeming to the brim with unforeseen opportunity and tumultuous adventure stories never written. What about the worn-out old man of America that we call the Heartland, and the uproaring West Coast culture which captivated the hearts and minds of former generations, leading the counter-culture revolution in all of its love-powered, flower-haired, color-overloaded and consciousness expanding glory.
I’m tired of looking with envious eyes at the past, we all should want to be at the head of a great bulleting movement of social and societal turnover; a backbreaking, gut-wrenching exploit, exploding with life and all it has to offer, a push to take back the heart and soul of America and ourselves.”
Where are we? Who are we? Are we even a ‘We’? or, are ‘We’ an ‘I’?... Only my angry, deceitful friend Time will tell, in all of his greedy bastardness.
We need leaders and followers, musicians and writers, protesters and politicians, engineers and dentists, teachers and learners, doctors and lawyers, prophets and priests, soldiers and policemen, deserters and the deserted, the lost and the found, the hopeful and homeless; we need people who care about people and our world. We need, we need, WE HAVE, we have everyone, everything, it’s all here! It’s all on us, all of the pressure, the weight of the world--of Utopia; it’s making our shoulders bleed, our backs are trembling and fighting under the weight, but our backs will never break.
We need to wake up and realize our free will. We may have rules, laws, hierarchy, and the like, but what we do is our decision. Life is full of choices that we don’t make for ourselves; we’re imprisoned by our own ignorance and fear of change or discomfort. It all comes down to you: blend in or stand out and be yourself--the person you’re not supposed to be. Until our universal eyes are opened to see what’s right in front of our gouged-out sockets, then we cannot progress, but will remain static. Break out and look past the gray because there are great things needing done.
So alas, here I sit in my warm serenity, humming and ticking away at my laptop, a simple man with a dream just like every other mindless roamer through the crests and depths of life; the long road full of decisions made and opportunities lost, paved with silver-linings and laughter and memories. I have nothing left to say, I’m speechless, the tides have returned, the dam has been rebuilt, set for another apocalypse of feeling and unnatural craziness.