IN THE SHADOW OF THE AMERICAN DREAM, SOON ALL THIS WILL BE PICTURESQUE RUINS
"We are born into a preinvented existence within a tribal nation of zombies and in that illusion of a one-tribe nation there are real tribes. Some of the tribes are in the business of sucker-punching peoples psyches in the form of maintaining the day-to-day job of government—they sell the masses a pile of green-tainted meat; i.e., a corrupted and false history as well as a corrupted and false future, and although that meat stinks of rot and pus and blood, this particular tribe extols these foul emissions as if they were virtues made of glorious sensitivities: "Raise Ole Glory while we do it to them again ...
Then there are other tribes which work hand in hand with the government, offering slices of meat in the form of doubletalk; or hope—hope as a chain of submission. Then there are the tribes that suckle at the breast of telecommunications every evening after work and are fatally lulled into society's deep sleep. Day after day they experience waking nightmares but they've either bought the con of language from the tribe that offers hope, or they're too f---ing exhausted or fearful to break through the illusion and examine the structures of their world.
There are other tribes that experience the X ray of Civilization every time they leave the house or turn on the tv or radio or pick up a newspaper or when they suddenly realize their legs have automatically come to a halt before a changing traffic light. A civil war and a national trial for the "leaders" of this country, as well as certain individuals in organized religions, is the soundtrack that plays and replays in the heads of members of that tribe. Some members of the tribe understand the meaning of language. They also understand what freedom truly is and if the other tribes want to hand them the illusion of hope in the form of the leash—in the form of language—like all stray dogs with intelligence from experience, they know how to turn the leash into a rope to exit the jail windows or how to turn the leash into a noose to hang the jailers. But when the volume of that war reaches epic dimensions, and when the person hearing it fails to connect with another member of the same tribe who can acknowledge the sound, that person can one day find themselves at the top of a water tower in suburbia armed with a high-powered rifle firing indiscriminately at the ants crawling around below. That person can one day find himself running amok in the streets with a handgun; that person can one day find himself lobbing a grenade at the forty-car motorcade of the president; or that person can end up on a street corner, homeless hungry and wild-eyed, punching himself in the face or sticking wires through the flesh of his arms or chest."
Essay from the memoir Close to the Knives: A memoir of disintegration by David Wojnarowicz, the American painter, photographer, writer, filmmaker, performance artist well-known for his graffiti and street art, songwriter/recording artist and AIDS activist.