Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Free Form: commodity

"Do you ever feel like a plastic bag
"Drifting through the wind"

Yes, those are Katy Perry lyrics.

I heard them while flipping between radio channels. Candyfloss bubblegum pop, but even the thickest log of manure might have kernels of sweet corn embedded within it. No doubt she's channeling American Beauty, but the sentiment is still valid.

We are commodity. Or at least I've realized I am. The acquisition of capital seems to be what delineates just how much of a commodity you are, how much of a plastic bag you are or at the very least your degree of wind resistance. This is nothing new, really. It stretches throughout history and at my late age I really should know better. Shame on me for ever forgetting this.

I've been reading Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. In it, he speaks of "losing his body." Now, I want to make clear that there is no way I could ever have an understanding of that phrase comparable to his own. Coates, along with so many others in America, came to such an understanding through plunder and systemic loss of primacy. My privileged self has experienced nothing even close. I believe that I can, however, come to something of an understanding.


I have, at least, come to a total realization that my body is not my own and that in modern society we are commodity.

"Today, in American imperialism, the commodity has reached its most grandiose historical manifestation." --C.L.R. James

I am not my own. I am, in the current context, only as valuable as what the "free market" decides. Right right right. You can cry all manner of transcendentalist philosophy about the nobility of the human spirit, but the LAPD of economic reality will, in time, pull that over to the curb and do a Rodney King on it.

I could bemoan the very existence of commodity, but it would be fruitless.

Wait! You say. Everything hinges on commodity. We have to move product or the world doesn't turn. Don't you see the advertisements? What are you trying to do? Bring down society?

Cry all you want about "unplugging from the Matrix" but that in itself is commodity. Can't sell video games otherwise.

You know I'm all down with technology but I feel its whiplash. Hoisted by my own petard.

"It's just a business decision. You understand, right? Plenty of places in America for a clever guy like you."

Nothing else to offer "the free market?" Enlist. Wait. You're too old.

If only I'd studied a "marketable skill," devoured the recommended daily allowance of fast food, embraced the advertising, placed enough patriotic ornaments on my car, reveled in sports, read the Left Behind series, bought more products I didn't need but would impress people I don't care about, kept track of benchmark correlations between age and earning, and kept careful track of celebrity doings and if anyone has "seen any good movies lately."

I went wrong. I went so wrong.

"Hustlers of the world, there is one mark you cannot beat: the mark inside." --William S. Burroughs.

But at least you're American. Living in the "greatest country on earth."

"All violence consists in some people forcing others, under threat of suffering or death, to do what they do not want to do." --Leo Tolstoy

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