chattel n. 2
property, profit, cattle
The Emancipation Proclamation is
The tongue in the cheek of our great nation 3
Nothing priceless is free, nor can it purchased
Freedom is the lost cause of our generation 4
Do you feel that? Yes, so do I.
That feeling of denial or desperation.
It’s as if we’re balanced on the brim of a bottomless pit. 5
Holding our breath, waiting- for what?
Bracing ourselves to scream out- and why? 6
Seizing with fear, shivering, shriveling
Gasping the thin air of anticipation
Trembling with titillating trepidation
On our knees as we sneeze
At our scapegoat’s inauguration 7
Aren’t you tired of being afraid?
Slavery is not a state of being. It’s a state of mind. 8
Inflation, taxation, starvation, desolation
Mutilation, desecration, incineration, damnation!
The devil’s dying for a vacation
Need I say more?
No, I’m afraid I’ve said too much already. 12
Each and every one of you
Scientists and worshipers alike know well
Seekers of the sun are blinded, 13
But not for naught-
For all of those quixotic knights 14
Gave birth to the present
All gods in their own right.
All false. 15
All burning, yearning, breathing souls
Just as torn by oppression 16
So desperate to leave the dark
They burned holes in their retinas 17
For the sake of true illumination
It truly pains me to say
“Illumination” is a dying word
Who can remember what it means 18
To be on fire with a word so tired?
In case you forgot to remember
It’s so like that feeling in your stomach’s pit
When your balance falters and the wind starts to shift
When you realize bottomless pits don’t exist
Only endless tunnels, echoing the invitation
Of that vibrant, violent incendiary voice 19
It will be your liberation.
So let your eyes and ears burn
With more than insinuations 20
Feed that spark! 21
Sing a cataclysmic hymn so dissonant
It tears down walls
And a rhapsody so lush
It builds them better 22
Positively possessed by passion
To be self-possessed is to be free
You feel it rising. You almost have it.
It’s on the tip of your-
Breathless, we become mounds of clay
Because all men know too much and too little
How i hope and how I pray
That those so determined to die
Might learn to live before their dream is realized. 23
This excerpt is a poem written and performed by the main female protagonist. She is one of the founding members of a group whose aim is to stage a peaceful revolution. But before long, the movement is stigmatized as a cult and her original intentions of peace become hopeless. The gesture, originally so innocent, inspires the wrong kind of passion. Not just possessed by passion, she has a secret that is unknown even to her. Her soul has been haunted through many turns of transmigration by something far more grim than any spectral entity we could summon.
Included here is a video of myself reading the poem. I aim to find actors to play the different roles of characters as they begin to develop, but for now I thought I’d provide video for those who prefer it to the written word.
1) Slavery definition: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/slavery
2) a. Chattel etymology: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=chattel
b. “In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle !
Be a hero in the strife !”
-Psalms of Life, Longfellow: http://www.potw.org/archive/potw232.html
3) “And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.
And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.” -Emancipation Proclamation: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/featured_documents/emancipation_proclamation/transcript.html
4) a. Consumer debt is soaring. That’s good news (for now).: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/07/08/consumer-debt-is-soaring-thats-good-news-for-now/
“Americans are finally feeling more confident about the economy and thus willing to take on debt…it may be sensible for people to take advantage of very low interest rates to buy a car or some new furniture.”
b. The Debt-Stress Connection: http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/the-debt-stress-connection
c. McDonald’s Can’t Figure Out How Its Workers Survive on Minimum Wage: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/07/mcdonalds-cant-figure-out-how-its-workers-survive-on-minimum-wage/277845/
d. Modern Slavery: Why dehumanizing the ‘Other’ concerns all of us: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/ideas/2013/04/modern-slavery-why-dehumanizing-the-other-concerns-all-of-us/
e. “there was a time when, to pronounce against England, and in favor of the cause of the colonies, tried men’s souls. They who did so were accounted in their day, plotters of mischief, agitators and rebels, dangerous men. To side with the right, against the wrong, with the weak against the strong, and with the oppressed against the oppressor! here lies the merit, and the one which, of all others, seems un fashionable in our day. The cause of liberty may be stabbed by the men who glory in the deeds of your fathers…but not in the order of tyranny.”- Frederick Douglass, http://www.lib.rochester.edu/index.cfm?page=2945
f. “Is this the land your Fathers loved, The freedom which they toiled to win? Is this the earth whereon they moved? Are these the graves they slumber in?” -Stanzas for the Times, John Greenleaf Whittier: http://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/109/selected-american-and-british-poems/5426/stanzas-for-the-times/
5) Our Age of Anxiety: http://chronicle.com/article/Our-Age-of-Anxiety/138255/
6) Are Millennials Lazy Or Avant-Garde Social Activists?: http://www.forbes.com/sites/larissafaw/2012/10/23/are-millennials-lazy-or-avant-garde-social-activists/
7) a. For ‘Millennials,’ a Tide of Cynicism and a Partisan Gap: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/30/us/politics/for-millennial-voters-a-tide-of-cynicism-toward-politics.html
b. Your Vote Doesn’t Count: http://reason.com/archives/2012/10/03/your-vote-doesnt-count
c. “The best minds are not in government. If any were, business would steal them away. -Ronald Reagan
8) a. “I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.” -Thomas Paine
b. “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. -George Bernard Shaw
c. Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds. -Franklin D. Roosevelt
9) Riot list 2013: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_riots#2013
10) Ideas worth spreading: http://www.ted.com/
11) a. Building a better future: http://www.theguardian.com/cleantechrevolution2009/building-better-future
b. How to power the urban revolution: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20130418-how-to-power-the-urban-revolution
c. Venus Project: http://www.thevenusproject.com/
12) a. NSA disguised itself as Google to spy, say reports: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57602701-38/nsa-disguised-itself-as-google-to-spy-say-reports/
b. NSA Can Access Most Smartphone Data, Der Spiegel Reports: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/08/nsa-smartphone-der-spiegel_n_3889713.html
13) Icarus wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icarus
14) a. Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time ;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
-Psalms of Life, Longfellow: http://www.potw.org/archive/potw232.html
b. The Influential: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_100
c. The Ingenius: https://www.facebook.com/notes/leonardo-da-vinci/the-greatest-genius-in-history-according-to-tony-buzans-poll-in-his-book-buzans-/10150557224340769
d. Moral Heroes: http://moralheroes.org/
15) a. Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
b. A man of genius makes no mistakes; his errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.” -James Joyce
16) Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds- Albert Einstein
17) a. Eye Injuries of Early Solar Observers: http://mintaka.sdsu.edu/GF/vision/others.html
b. “retina n. … associated with Latin retina rein or shortening from Latin retinaculum tether, halter, but ultimately formed on Latin rete net” http://www.amazon.com/Barnhart-Concise-Dictionary-Etymology-Robert/dp/0062700847
18) Semantic Change: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic_change
19) a. We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival -Winston Churchill
b. It’s lack that gives us inspiration. It’s not fullness. -Ray Bradbury
c. I decided that it was not wisdom that enabled poets to write their poetry, but a kind of instinct or inspiration, such as you find in seers and prophets who deliver all their sublime messages without knowing in the least what they mean. -Socrates
20) a. “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. -Eleanor Roosevelt
21) a. Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working. -Pablo Picasso
b. It is a fact often observed, that men have written good verses under the inspiration of passion, who cannot write well under other circumstances -Ralph Waldo Emerson
c. “Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.” -John Locke
22) a. All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible. -T.E. Lawrence
b. Times they are a Changin’ -Bob Dylan: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mS6DC2w5j5I
23) a. “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” -Thomas Jefferson
b. “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
c. “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” -Japanese Proverb