Excerpt from The US Book, by Michael Scott Monje, Jr., NeuroQueer Books

Cover image for The US Book
The US Book, Michael Scott Monje, Jr.

NeuroQueer Books has released The US BOOK by Sycamores contributor Michael Scott Monje, Jr. We’re happy to reshare one of the poems that appears in her collection, “Conditions of Victory,” first published in Barking Sycamores Issue 2 (If Thine Eye Be Single). Read on! Oh yeah, and go buy the book.
~The Editors

by Michael Scott Monje, Jr.

We have within ourselves the ability
to trigger the cultural singularity,
to break the rate of change in society
and create an ever-shifting reality
wherein consensus exists by degree.

We already have access to the past's playthings.
Anything recorded after the thirties,
or shown on TV after nineteen sixty,
is still mixing in the gestalt of our identity,
influencing our descendants,
and obliterating the generational rule of three.

The technology for preserving history
has invaded the haze of sacred time
and relegated the bulk of our species' written existence
to a kind of single-media dark age
that only serves to buttress us against prehistory.
The books are dead, long live the booklings!

The cyborgs might try for parity,
but even if they succeed with their singularity
I have to think that we already have them beat,
because with the mythic's existence crowded in with
actual records of historical significance,
we can bend ourselves into the shapes of our wishes.

Here is what I already see:

Racism we thought was left in the fifties
perpetrated by craftsmen with handlebar mustaches
who insist they are not pirates,
nor are they trying to bring back
the fashion of the eighteen nineties.
This is mixing in with a conspicuous consumption
of the previous generation's bewildered teenage
ramblings, causing a traffic jam
of appropriated angst
among well-fed flower children
who do not realize the radical nature of their
common kindness,
because their own contextual blindness
obscures the relatively recent addition of twee
to the rest of our cultural vocabulary.
Riding between these living
examples of our cultural timelessness,
are the gray ones, and the remembrance
of their technological achievements
are affectations the young pick up.
They are selling their past 
to insure their retirements.

I think we can go further than this.
The rate of change I see is accelerated,
and no doubt the cyborgs have helped
by giving us the means to communicate
much more quickly than we ever anticipated,
but our self-congratulation should be
deferred until we at least agree
upon our conditions of victory.

Here is the vision that comes to me:

Acoustic raves programming DJs to remix Bob Dylan
as Amish youth on Rumspringe cop green corn,
sucking lungfuls to fuel their attempts at a cabbage patch
while their sisters rock traditional bonnets full of Molly,
swaying in the breeze of finger-picked dubstep blues revival melodies.

Someone has fifty-fiftied Skrillex
and Stevie Ray 
on two turntables
and set them to competing.

Instead of this, kids who know the impermanence of society
are using it to take advantage of me.
Even as they pet laptop screens and order robots to do their laundry,
they are using these tools with the mockery of tourists,
showing my hope for the future to be just another fucking commodity.
The truth is, for all my blog updates and lightspeed communicating,
I'd rather be on the front porch refinishing fine furniture.

I straddle the divide between the indulgence of present desires and
traditional understanding, demanding someone see
that change is not worth fighting, but that it comes with the cost
of retaining and understanding other contexts,
lest the souls of all the artifacts 
used to build your social existence
be lost to the remix.

Hip hop taught me this—the recycling of history in context,
that sampling need not be appropriating
unless it's done incorrectly.
It can instead be transmitted history. 
The enjoyment of new creativity
is simultaneously 
a reflection on past experience 
and a building activity.

I dream of days where I walk barefoot across the rolling hills of others' creative landscapes,
and oil paintings I can't recognize spring up in my footsteps.

I remember Salvador Dali, but his discipline is not for me,
I will not stop at dripping clocks or subsume my sexuality publicly.
I have no taste for sham marriages, less for restraint,
and nothing but contempt for the anonymity of masked orgies.
The twentieth century can keep these,
along with Gatsby, comedy roasts, Geddy Lee, and Emily Post.

I will be taking de stijl, abstract expressionism,
absurdist theater, the Beats, all the music,
my university degree, the words of Aldous Huxley,
and the hopes of a generation of flower children, now grown, 
who see themselves as primitives with smartphones.

But my neglect of that other subset of artifacts
does not change the fact that they are still part of my habitat.
This is why it's called a singularity—
culturally, we are on the verge of accommodating all things.
Can you see yourself tipping over this edge,
beating authoritative voices back with their own artifacts,
and indulging in a riot of ideas?
Or do you fear the chaos?
Are you El Salvador de los Dadas?
Or just another narcissist waiting to play boss?

Anyway, Ray Kurzweil can curse us while we
take his toys away and refuse to let him play boss.
By the time his robots overtake us, I plan to have
a cultural landscape that accommodates them,
and maybe then the cyborgographers can see
that we were never opposed to their way of being.
We just don't want to keep being overwritten;
the reason we breathe is to carry on tradition.

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