(deus. vox. machina.)

I. Deus

A man who would be king,
Talking to God,
Having a consultation with Geist,
Getting a massage from the almighty
Dollar, sacrificing multitudes at the altar of
Trade, prosperity, “our way of life,”
A way of life that feeds on darkness,
That devours the labors of the least,
Feasting on a higher power of Capital,
Of destiny, manifest in
The saving grace of the market,
Saying grace for the market,
Graced with the market, a free market,
Pious and free, animating the spirit of the
Time of the free market, spreading itself
Freely, openly, in communion
With itself.

A man who would be priest,
Or is it prophet?
Speaking in tongues, speaking in tongues
At once strange and familiar,
Inspired by distant reports that
“Freedom is on the march”
Spreading this “birthright of every human soul”
And leading the world into “the light of liberty.”
Armies of compassion are laying waste to
Difference, drinking from the
Loving cup of narrow certainties.
Righteousness begets Freedom
Freedom begets Liberty
Liberty begets trade
Trade begets prosperity
Prosperity begets righteousness.
The circulation of profits,
Spreading, marching, aspiring
To be like us,
Stewards of the world.

A man who would be scribe
Writing a history of the future
Taking notes for a past yet to come,
Drawing on a deus ex machina,
An old device,
A narrative device that saves,
That saves a story from certain collapse,
Brought upon stage by elaborate equipment,
By more than is necessary,
As a bloated photo-op of self-indulgence.
A savior comes borne on this unlikely narrative arc
When there is no way out
When the lines all stop
When you hit a wall
When movement slows
To a trickle of hope, of a wild hope
They call blind faith; blind because
It cannot, will not, shall not see what’s coming.
No need to see the future, to savor an insoluble crisis
This jam
The mess
This brouhaha
Just needs to find a way out.

II. Vox

I appreciate a leader who is committed to listen to others,
To listen to any ideas brought to the table,
To be open to so many voices,
So many other voices,
The voice of the world.
A voice at once muted, transmuted and
Instituted as a voice of folly.
Thank you for playing,
Please come again.

The spirit of conversation and discussion is in shambles,
With voices of discussion debate replaced by the eternal
Inanity of talking points and red herring topics.
In the end there is but a clamorous silence,
A cacophony of nothing being said,
A booming silence filled with yap yap yap,
Filled with canned laughter and one-line zingers,
A studied mordant wit that clears the
Producers and market researchers and
Focus groups
So clearly out of focus
Pontificating on the virtues of nothing that matters.

Insults as thick as black flies on a Maine summer night
Swarm the field of vision where we expect to find something
Said, yearning for something to pierce through the drone of leaders and
Commentators embalmed by their own power and
Hope of being relevant, of mattering.
Against the greater hopes of many
Old Europe remains astute in its observations,
Reminding us that “stupidity’s never blind or mute,”
That our situation is not about “getting people to express
Themselves but of providing little gaps of solitude and
Silence in which they might eventually find something to
Say. Repressive forces don’t stop people expressing
Themselves but rather force them to express themselves.
What a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing,
Because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, and even rarer, thing that might be worth saying.”[1]
This leader who listens, who longs to hear what others have to
Say, does not really even want to be spoken to.
“When others have their say, he takes it as an
Impudent interruption. He is impervious to reason because he
Recognizes it only in concessions made by others.” [2]
It is from this position, and this position alone
That he sees “the world speaking in one voice”[3] in an
Utterance of certainty regarding his own policies,
That “freedom is the design of humanity and
Freedom is the direction of history,”
That just as certainty was voiced in Jericho, “the
Trumpet of freedom has been sounded,”[4]
Speaking in a no-nonsense voice of results and

A voice of a man with power who knows how to wield it,
Who yields to no one but his God.
And what a strange voice of power it is, skipping along as
A stumbling voice
A stern voice
A hurried voice
A caustic voice
A voice of the people
With snickers and giggles that
Cut straight through the muteness of others
In a deafening roar of empire
Backed sweetly by a choir of progress.

III. Machina

Your deepest values contribute to a war-machine, which
Ironically has nothing to do with war.
Rather, it is a simple force, an elemental
Imperative to ward off the State.
The rapid flight of capital is too clever for
Containment, though you are oblivious to this fact.
This is your great foolishness, thinking that capital will bend to
Your will, even though “it is irreducible to the
State apparatus, [. . .] outside its
Sovereignty and prior to its law.
It comes from elsewhere.” [5]
Like Whitman, you sing of yourself, though
Your disinterestedness of the world glows with
The vanity of expanding prosperity, calling out,
“I help myself to material and immaterial,
No guard can shut me off, no law prevent me.
I anchor my ship for a little while only,
My messengers continually cruise away or bring their returns to me.”
You continue your perversions, the folly of your certainties.
Your speech is fluent in the voice of empire,
Unaware that it is you who are spoken by the war-machine,
Not the other way around as you would have the world believe it.
Your policies cry out, “The past and present wilt –
I have fill'd them, emptied them.
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future. [. . .]
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)”[6]
Of this you are right, but you are blind to its consequences.
The multitude evades your grasp,
It mocks your sovereignty, no, it mocks all sovereignty [7]
As irrelevant, as emptied of affective utterances and bereft.
“Will you speak before I am gone? will you prove already too late?” [8]
When you do speak, it is in the tongue of empire and prosperity,
Every utterance of which can bring ruin and despair.
Prosperity, of course, is a classic narrative of origins,
Producing faithful hordes who flow
Freely across the earth, untethered, displaced,
Wandering to an economic promised land
Staked out in the machinations of your deepest values.

1. Gilles Deleuze, “Mediators.” In Negotiations. Trans. Martin Joughin. New York: Columbia UP, 1995: 129.

2. Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments. Ed. Gunzelin Schmid Noerr, trans. Edmund Jephcott. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2002: 174.

3. George W. Bush, president’s radio address, March 5, 2005.

4. George W. Bush, remarks to the National Defense University on the War on Terror, March 8, 2005.

5. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus. Trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis, U of Minnesota P, 1987: 352.

6. Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself.”

7. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire. New York: Penguin, 2004: 99-102.

8. Whitman.

(<-- back to underscore works)