Wage-Slave in the Wasteland

“The fisher king was never healed, they never meant for us to heal him. They only meant to conceal what we’d been fed, so they concealed him.”

From Christopher Scott Thompson

Surrealist Prophecies #4

The fourth in a sequnce of surrealist prophecies written using the divinatory technique of automatic writing (with subsequent revision). The theme of the sequence is the collapse of our global civilization due to uncontrollable climate change, leading to a mass rejection of both faith and reason and the re-enchantment of our world among the ruins of our failed creations. Some of the poems in the sequence are set before the Fall and portray the spiritual and emotional dilemma of our current crisis. Some describe the Fall itself, and the strange changes in thought and perception that will be needed if any are to survive a world in which humanity has been radically de-centered. Some describe the world to come, a world newly alive with gods and spirits yet free of all dogma or fixed belief – a world of beauty and strange magic.

The fourth prophecy explores the horror of living in our world in the last few generations before the Fall, trapped in bare survival as the world begins to slip from its moorings and slide down into strange dreams – a world in which meaning has died and has not yet been reborn. The wage-slave dreams of an apocalyptic wasteland but wakes up to an alarm clock.

Wage-Slave in the Wasteland

Between life and death there is just a breath, pluming out like choking smoke in the cold cracked morning of “not much left.”

 

Some part of me dreams…

 

Between life and death there is just a breath in the fresh anger of the frozen morning. Bare bushes burn in a dustland of rusted cars. My eyes stare out across the flat plain and coolly assess if there might be rain. A train approaches, black puffs of coal smoke chugging out angrily into the autumn air. There is a dead dog there, crawling along on broken legs with mindless eyes before the tracks. The scene lacks color, lacks contrast. The air feels thin, but leaves a slick film of grease on the skin. The sun looks parched, fighting to create its own conditions for some new existence that might pierce these clouds. Munitions cook off in the distance with a breakfast crackle as a castle burns.

 

Some part of me yearns…

 

But between life and death there is not much difference. A sick horror, and stuck tears. A body exhausted from all the acid years, corroded to almost nothing, holed-up like cheese. A red alarm demands full attention and announces that the morning now pounces upon you with its sharp intentions. The numbers flash, and you crash down from the grotesque fantasies of forgetful sleep to keep faith with cash. Dustland dreams disappear – another morning, another year.

We live here in the wasteland in which the Grail once shined, with no question on the tip of our lips, our gestures false like mimes. The fisher king was never healed, they never meant for us to heal him. They only meant to conceal what we’d been fed, so they concealed him. And what was revealed when they pulled the cloth away was just his worm-wet head.

Alive or dead? Too many days beneath this airless mystery where no soul has history, tied fast to the bedpost of this harsh necessity. I can no longer tell. And worst of all, I’m not even sure I can still recall – was I alive before? Was there, at some point, more?


Christopher Scott Thompson

Christopher Scott Thompson is an anarchist, martial arts instructor, devotee of Brighid and Macha, and a wandering exile roaming the earth. Photo by Tam Zech.


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Tornado Warning

“But there is a king: his name is Lludd. They call him the Once and Future King.”

From Christopher Scott Thompson

Photo by Brian Cook on Unsplash
Photo by Brian Cook

Surrealist Prophecies #2

The second in a sequence of surrealist prophecies written using the divinatory technique of automatic writing (with subsequent revision). The theme of the sequence is the collapse of our global civilization due to uncontrollable climate change, leading to a mass rejection of both faith and reason and the re-enchantment of our world among the ruins of our failed creations. Some of the poems in the sequence are set before the Fall and portray the spiritual and emotional dilemma of our current crisis. Some describe the Fall itself, and the strange changes in thought and perception that will be needed if any are to survive a world in which humanity has been radically de-centered. Some describe the world to come, a world newly alive with gods and spirits yet free of all dogma or fixed belief – a world of beauty and strange magic.

The trigger for the writing of the second prophecy was the sound of a tornado warning siren outside the window while reading Abel Paz’s biography of Buenaventura Durruti.

Tornado Warning

A high, proud, howling outside the window through an enervating lassitude of limp, white streets.

A scar advances across this torn landscape of trembling cheek.

A leak of blood and bone discreetly declares itself beneath your eyelashes and tells you to wear a pair of fiery eyeglasses, to declare his reign.

For spring means rain.

And in the swarming bug-storm of divine inventions there will be no mention of our intentions: what we made is what we made. This is our one and only chance: we can dance with the coming sunsets of oblivion or stay home to sing.

But there is a king: his name is Lludd. They call him the Once and Future King.

Let us weave a garland of teeth to make his headband; let him wear our eyes on his red hands like rings. This hasn’t gone as planned.

 

And when King Lludd sings,

When the Jacquerie

With brutal mockery

Dethrone and debone

All lesser kings

Oh, when King Lludd sings.

 

Still if in ruins we must dwell,

Fear not, we shall.

A time for building will come again.

 

It’s not that we cannot build. We built all these things. The mud-splattered walls of all your flooded palaces, the brick-battered glass facades of all your callous palisades. We built all these things.

And we shall know how to dwell in the shell of the world you made us make for you before we build our own.


Christopher Scott Thompson

CSTshortbeardBWChristopher Scott Thompson is an anarchist, martial arts instructor, devotee of Brighid and Macha, and a wandering exile roaming the earth. Photo by Tam Zech.

Put Reason Back to Sleep

“The future will have a place for neither faith nor reason.”

From Christopher Scott Thompson

Photo by Hans Eiskonen on Unsplash
Photo by Hans Eiskonen

Surrealist Prophecies #1

“It was in the black mirror of anarchism that surrealism first recognised itself.”

– Andre Breton

This poem is the first in a sequence of apocalyptic prophecies inspired by China Mieville’s novel Last Days of New Paris, which led me to investigate the Surrealist Manifesto of Andre Breton and the use of what Breton calls “the magical Surrealist art” as a method of channeling or divination:

Put yourself in as passive, or receptive, a state of mind as you can. Forget about your genius, your talents, and the talents of everyone else. Keep reminding yourself that literature is one of the saddest roads that leads to everything. Write quickly, without any preconceived subject, fast enough so that you will not remember what you’re writing and be tempted to reread what you have written.

The pure “Surrealist game” is unedited automatic writing, but the poems in this sequence use automatic writing only as a starting point – to be followed in each case by many hours of revision and polishing.

The theme of the sequence is the collapse of our global civilization due to uncontrollable climate change, leading to a mass rejection of both faith and reason and the re-enchantment of our world among the ruins of our failed creations. Some of the poems in the sequence are set before the Fall and portray the spiritual and emotional dilemma of our current crisis. Some describe the Fall itself, and the strange changes in thought and perception that will be needed if any are to survive a world in which humanity has been radically de-centered. Some describe the world to come, a world newly alive with gods and spirits yet free of all dogma or fixed belief – a world of beauty and strange magic.

Put Reason Back to Sleep

“The sleep of reason produces monsters.”

– Francisco Goya

Put reason back to sleep.

Let monsters slip

Out of the corners of your eyes

And lick bricks like meat.

Let them lie them down to breathe

Among the ruins of old useless infrastructure

And there breed new beasts.

The future will have a place for neither faith nor reason.

But only a fluttering

As of birds in flight

That we can sight in season.

And we can plant new trees in

The broken bones of what we built

While from the silt of dead dreams

We must pick out what still gleams.

The future will have a place for neither fact nor fiction.

There will be no restriction based on creed,

But all eyes will bleed.

From one drop,

A vast bulk

Will heave its hulking tentacles

Up through the holes

In once-solid floors

And splash black ink on broken doors

To announce its presence,

To stake its claim.

Another drop shall bloom

And become a room

Red with blood flowers

Above the flood.

Where we shall

Hold all-night congresses

With the snarled tresses

Of wet hair.

We will carve knots in candles there.

The future will have a place for neither pope nor king.

There will be no special honor paid to art,

Yet all hearts shall sing.

We will leave offerings at cold crossroads

Where no cars roll.

A strange new song, not a soul.

For the fast unfolding of

Something old.

We will pray quietly in empty stores

Whose floors are strewn with plastic bags,

And weep silently as humbled conquerors

Before shattered windows

To paint new dragons

On flooded streets.

We will hear the gathering of shuffled feet,

The stir of wings.

We will hear the voice

When it sings.

We will praise the flight

Of dead birds

With muttered words

And raise hands in prayer

To sun and air,

To praise the dawn as she gleams.

We’ll never ask what it means.

To ask questions

Of either fact or fiction

Is to place restrictions on

Dreams,

And when dreams walk,

That isn’t safe.

The gods of the future will not be safe.

For there the ocean,

Now fat and bold,

In the mud-choked memory of some high cathedral

Will hold his revels and make his home.

The sun will dance her way

Through the cracked dome

Of this corrupted capitol

Where cruel laws were made

And pierce straight through it

Like a blade.

And there, death,

Clothed in white,

Will hold court in some aborted

Cinema

And serve drinks all night.

And she who has heard

The merest rumor

Of that old tumor,

Faith –

He who has seen the faintest wraith

Of that old traitor, reason –

They themselves shall have done treason.

For these things bring death.

They taught us to believe

And to not believe

Till there were no gods left.

They themselves brought the dust –

The rust that showed itself as

A red taint in tap-water

And shall become our Fall.

Put faith to sleep.

Let Titans climb up out of the black bowl of your heart

And squeeze bricks to dust.

Let them lie them down to breed

Among the ruins of old useless infrastructure

And there spread like rust.

The future will have a place for no faith but wonder.

And an endless shattering

Of cracking glass

And a long crash, like thunder.

But we can plant new trees in

The ruined remnants of what we built.

And from the silt of dead dreams

We can pick out what still gleams.


Christopher Scott Thompson

CSTshortbeardBW

Christopher Scott Thompson is an anarchist, martial arts instructor, devotee of Brighid and Macha, and a wandering exile roaming the earth. Photo by Tam Zech.


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