(A follow-up to "Whimper", which was written in response to "Howl" by Allen Ginsberg)
I have seen the best insanity of my generation destroyed by the worst minds.
I have seen humans turn into robots and the robots turn to fascism
because of What The Internet Told Them.
I have seen the weaponisation of our most rancid fears and watched
in horrified fascination as our inner demons got their own agents.
I have seen and felt the horizon constrict so tight, it’s getting
hard to swallow.
You have to understand, this isn’t what I wanted.
You have to realise, this isn’t what I meant.
This isn’t crazy.
This isn’t pure, natural, spontaneous crazy.
This is synthetic madness, manufactured madness,
genetically modified, mass-produced, mass-marketed madness:
As Seen On Television; approved by test audiences;
none of the calories, all of the carcinogens.
This goes beyond the deplorable allure of a free red hat.
This goes beyond dinosaur-dodo-dumb nostalgia for a blue passport
and a golden age that never was.
This is why you hire Cambridge Analytica.
This is the Project For The New American Sentence:
The message is, “It’s chaos out there, people; do what the hell you want.”
And the echo chamber,
and the echo chamber,
and the echo chamber,
and even the rage…
even the rage isn’t real.
Mercenaries, not maniacs.
No more lunatic songs.
That howling you hear is only feedback:
an endlessly shrieking loop of absolutely nothing, broadcast on
every channel, into every dream, until the fillings in our teeth buzz
and our institutions tear themselves apart, as
component materials hit resonant frequency.
This is how the world ends: Not with a whimper, but with
We got the message wrong, giving credence to people
whose hatred is their only art. They taught us
to avoid such human folly as Ruinous Empathy, to
distrust painful, decaying love, when these were the
things that might have saved us.
There’s a poet I know, who served in ‘Nam, who thinks
he might have even forgiven Nixon.
Field Commander Cohen has checked out of the Chelsea Hotel,
deciding we wanted it too dark for him.
Too many of our heroes have turned out to be monsters. We're haunted by
historic sex crimes, Cold War ghosts and the knowledge that we
could have done things differently.
The message was supposed to be, “It’s chaos, be kind.”
There's no such thing as a stable genius, but we've got
fake news and alternative facts; we're discovering the side-effects
of living post-consequence. We're hypernormalised. We're
past shock; our incredulity stretched beyond its
elastic limit; we've broken satire and nothing is really funny any more.
Welcome to the Disinformation Age. These are our Interesting Times:
Glee Club and Gun Rehearsal; bloodied blue uniforms;
tears for the victims of the Bowling Green Massacre;
an early by-election for Batley and Spen;
very fine people on both sides; Thoughts & Prayers, our
only surplus, the ultimate fiat currency;
poverty porn and the return of social murder (71 dead at Grenfell, NHS black alerts, rickets making a comeback, lead in the water); Drink the Kool-aid; humans like Kool-aid - porn stars on polygraphs; Netflix and Kompromat; the portrait
in Kissinger’s attic; Ayn Rand for Beginners; Corporate cosmology
and casino capitalism; government by gaslight; constructive ambiguity
to preserve a kakistocracy; bring me
the head of Roger Stone! #EndOfEmpire;
Windrush and Stupid Watergate…
I said we needed our madmen back, but not like
these posers, these gangsters, these Quislings…
These are merely bad actors, playing to the crazy dollar,
but do not doubt their sanity,
which is icy and cynical and monstrous. But,
in the cold fusion reactor of that sanity, they are unknowingly
forging a new generation of madmen, whose madness
will be righteous and real and burn with
a pure, perfect heat that cleanses and cauterises. They
will know the difference between human
and humanoid. They will be less afraid than us, less quick to
hate strangeness. They will use their craziness to
create, not destroy. They have
I know this because
I have witnessed six minutes and twenty seconds of silence that blazed hotter, howled louder than all your Fire and Fury. I have seen
riot cops in Baton Rouge turn whiter and recoil in fear from serene, dignified, unarmed surrender. I
have heard the young sweetly whisper to the old,
‘Fine, but you’re wrong, and we’re right, and we will outlive you.’
You can’t hide that behind a wall.
You can’t say that life doesn’t matter.
You can’t filibuster the future.
Everything was forever, until it was no more.
Our madmen are gone, and they’re not coming back.
But there will be others.
The best minds of their generation will not be destroyed by your sanity.