Good Morning Dr. Caligari
Okay. I’m awake.
I blink as the sun pours through the vertical blinds of the sliding glass door. It’s obvious this dingy little dive was built in 1970. To add insult to ever-mounting injury, the moron who put the door on installed the sliding section on the outside rather than the inside.
The latch is no longer dependable. It may experience a fifty percent success rate during its best month. Security with a conventional broom handle or dowel rod is not an option, thanks to the unknown idiot of days bygone. I wonder where the guy is now. I hope he is spending his twilight years in comfort, or God is assiduously resting his soul. He’s a fellow traveler of mine, ya know. He gets style points, if nothing else.
Still, I’m not too concerned. The whole thing is rusted shut. It won’t budge a millimeter even with all the WD-40 in the world. I’m more worried about the pathetic portal spontaneously collapsing in a dusty heap than someone breaking in. Besides, I really don’t have anything of value in this hovel other than my soul, and that’s very much on the side of weary nowadays. I’d say it’s in no better shape than the glass door.
Luckily, just a few feet from this glass door is a real door. It is drafty as all hell and whistles in the wind, but it lets me leave the shanty as I need.
I watch the negative images on the back of my eyelids flit and fade - beautiful bursting vertical lines. They are soft, dreamy. I yawn and cast my eyes downward. I drift away.
I see a swimming pool. No. It’s more of a park. A water park. There are three levels. It is late spring. The sky is overcast. The air is musty and electric. There are hundreds of people splashing about. There is a roaring babble of casual conversations and children screaming.
Wait a minute.
Awake? That is a lie. It is an egregious lie. It is a mad dog and Englishman lie. It is a baldfaced baking in the noonday sun lie. I would be a coward to carry on in the face of such flagrant deception. I have committed a horrific moral outrage.
I apologize. I take full responsibility for what I have done. Gentle readers, please forgive a fragile soul battling the well-nigh insurmountable limits of his hollow hat.
I shall now tell the truth.
I am not so much awake, as merely upright. I remain gruesomely groggy and fiercely foggy. My mind grasps and swats for some sort of coherent thought. It flails and fails. It is a shitshow. It is an atrocity exhibition. I can only feel shame for my current form.
You deserve better, gentle reader.
Now, I shall be honest with you.
I will dig down as far into the depths of my squalid thoughts as my putrid abilities will allow. I will seek the absolute truth, but surely fall short in my observation and analysis thanks to my feeble senses and obtuse intellect. I beg you indulge me, if only for a few hundred words, dear gentlest reader, as I seek to come closer to understanding what is happening.
This is what I see, touch, smell, hear, and taste.
I am the holy monster of Dr. Caligari emerging from his cabinet. My eyes pierce the void with wild emptiness. A vague anger blasts from their retina. The anger is scattershot. It has no preconceived target. It must find an object for that anger lest it be turned inward upon itself.
It must find a target, any target, somewhere. It shall seek and choose the easiest one. It shall seek the vulnerable. It will seek the other. It will seek its shadow. It will seek to cleanse its ego upon this object. It will be unjust. It will be rude. It will be violent. It will be merciless. God help a world at odds with its duality.
I must awake and come to my senses before my somnolent state becomes a nuisance. I must achieve some semblance of consciousness lest my rotten condition lead a nation into a frenzied fever of hyper-nationalist authoritarianism.
That would be such terrible form. What would my friends and family think? What would the tabloids say? How irresponsible of me! Such onerous embarrassment I would cause. I would have to go into exile. Well, it would be a fine opportunity to finally visit Belarus.
Why are you here, good sir? Oh? Looking for a good place to go into hiding, are you? Well, how about this village over here? It’s stuck in the 19th century, early 19th century, in fact, but perfectly serviceable for someone looking to keep the lowest profile possible. Who’d think to look for you here? The civilized world does not even know it is here, nor does it want to.
>>>Someone else has chimed in.
>> Who could it be?
You! Yes. You over there. You lot.
What do you say?
It’s a little late for that, you say?
It’s already done?
Fascism in the good ol’ USA, you say?
Okay. Right. Check!
Nothing to worry about, then. The nation is already gleefully spinning down the toilet and it is no fault of mine. Jolly good. Nothing to worry about. I can wake up as slowly as I wish. Bullocks to Dr. Caligari and his wee bug-eyed creature. Very good! Thank you so much for the reminder. All the racism, xenophobia, nativism, and white-supremacy right in full view had somehow slipped my mind. How foolish of me.
What’s that you say?
It was my fault, at least partially? Everyone’s fault? We should all move to Belarus? A collective guilt is in order? We are all emerging from the cabinet? We have emerged from the cabinet? We’re running rampant, you say?
Okay. Fine. Good! I shall lift my portion of the collective guilt and move on. Thank you! I’ll get back to coffee and continue burying my head in the sand as basic constitutional rights, the rule of law, justice, and all those fussy niceties of democracy fade away into the night without the faintest whisper. I wasn’t using them anyway. I was too busy amusing myself to death. I’ve got Twitter and Facebook to which I must post every daft whim that wafts through my cranium and a million episodes of Black Mirror to binge watch - The better to ignore the real dystopia at my door, my dear!
Who cares if Julian Assange gets extradited to and tortured by the USA? So what if he gets the electric chair? Who will raise an eyebrow if Chelsea Manning spends the rest of her life in prison on some fake charges or no charges at all? Habeus bleeding bloody Corpus!
Who cares if desperate Salvadorans drown in the Rio Grande? We shall curse them for having the temerity of wanting to save their skin from a corrupt and ravaged country and, horrors, that skin being brown at that!
We will act confused as yet another day brings yet another atrocity of what seems to be nothing but another salvo in the war of societal suicide. There will be nothing but prayers, wailing, gnashing of teeth, and rending of garments. But it is all dilatory drama merely played out for the cameras. It is pantomime for the media. It’s just another body count. It’s all an abstraction without names, faces, and friends. Why is one surprised by mass murder in a society that has devolved from mass production to mass protest to mass consumption to mass entertainment and has turned citizens into mere socio-economic abstractions?
What’s your income?
What kind of car do you drive?
How long is your commute?
What sort of tablet do you own?
What kind of mobile phone?
To which streaming services do you subscribe?
Identity through consumption.
Isn’t this just Durkheim’s anomie taken to its logical conclusion, as the mass dissipates into individual atoms? Is it so strange that such atoms become invidious and turn on one another with the greatest violence? Is this societal fission? Welcome to Hiroshima.
We will continue to rot and deny the obvious flailing before our noses, all the while screaming “These colors don’t run!” and “Stand for the flag, kneel to pray!” We’ll continue our laundry worship while the very thing it supposedly represents is engulfed in history’s greatest dumpster fire. I’d dare say this country has reached hypocritical mass.
But who am I? What do I know? What right have I to observe? What right have I to state the obvious? I am but a cipher. I must let my betters do the thinking and talking. All hail the Benefactor! I am but a fool on this wayward ship of the corporate consumerist state. May it sail on through the stormy seas unscathed.
Oh! Sorry! Sorry for all the bloviating. Gotta run now.
The postman’s just dropped a ton of mail through the door slot. It’s all over the floor. I’ve got to see if my iphone rebate has arrived. Good day!
The bulletproof coffee slowly seeps into my veins. I eagerly anticipate its morning magic. I’ve now gulped just short of a quarter litre - about 8 oz. for you Yanks - and I feel my synapses attempting to fire their first real sparks of the day. Coherent thought may be lurking around the corner. I’d best be careful, lest it take hold and force me to do something sensible. What if I suddenly decide that revolution against the fuckwads of fascism is the order of the day? What if I suddenly decide I can put a crack in the wall of corporate hegemony?
That would be a travesty of the highest order. How could I continue my streak as a louche liver of life if prudent thoughts and actions were to overtake me? How dare I lift a finger to save my country from perdition! How dare I follow the equation of my recent forefathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers! You know the one: Nazi=Bad; or rather, Nazi=Fucking EVIL!
I shudder to think!
What about my commitment to consumption?
My obligation to the status quo?
What about my duty to decadence?
How dare I not keep the neighborhood safe for callous capitalist exploitation!
I wonder if I’m okay.
Perhaps there is an operating theatre somewhere that can remove these buggersome thoughts from my heretofore empty head. How can I walk lockstep into the dungeon of doom with the rest of the nation while such notions buzz about my skull?
Damn these foolish notions! What will my heinous head entertain next? Universal Healthcare and a living wage? Never! Think of the taxes the rich would have to pay! Think of the poor capitalists having to give up their 4th vacation homes in the Seychelles! What has gotten into me? This is not American! This isn’t blind faith in the beautiful invisible hand, nor servitude to the grand wisdom of capitalism! Why Adam Smith is likely spinning in his tomb, poor Scotsman!
Chaos! Beautiful chaos! Let there be chaos! Let there be fear and uncertainty, desperation and loathing. For those things are opportunity! Chaos is capital! It is the lifeblood of our system!
But I still can’t buy it. It leaves me cold.
How awkward! What will become of me?
Such a scandal are my abject shortcomings; these ailments; these barriers to conformity; these obstacles to lemminghood; this inability to forget my best interests. It’s like I had a soul or something, no matter how worse for wear.
What if this is plain old common sense, the thing the ancient ones extolled as the utmost virtue in the days prior to radio, television, computers, internet, cell phones and all the glories of the techno-consumer state?
That can’t be.
Don’t let me be antediluvian. I am but a daft bugger loving his crumbs and gadgets. That’s what I must be, or the whole thing falls into shambles. I see a crack in the wall. How embarrassing!
I’d best get that looked at.
 And if you have not seen The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and learned how it has been interpreted, ad infinitum, ad nauseum, as a foreshadowing of Nazi Germany since its release in the early 20th century (1921), you are not a filmie, as I. It is a silent picture that screams volumes.
 What? You haven’t read it? Amusing Ourselves to Death, by Neil Postman.
 And if you haven’t read Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, do it now and pray for cracks in the green wall.
 I call him Neil.
 I, too, am a Yank, but don’t let that little detail bother you. Just play along with my tawdry little anglophilic soliloquy.