And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!
- And did those feet, William Blake

fredag 27. november 2015

A Vision of Mammon on Black Friday

The most intransigent spam messages in today's inbox have told me that today is Black Friday. I normally don't proselytise on this blog, but I make an exception for some issues and I will make an exception this time. As a farm-boy from a small rural village of Western Norway it is hard to identify and to comprehend some of the workings and going-ons of higher capitalism, but now as a PhD candidate I find it more and more difficult not to get inundated by the sundry pernicious stratagems that businesses concoct to attract more buyers and to accelerate consumerism. To me there is something deeply disturbing and immoral about this type of extreme capitalist-induced consumerism, used as I am from childhood that things should last and if they broke they could be repaired.

As a medievalist familiar with the Bible and biblical language, it is difficult not to wax slightly gloomy and launch into Jeremiads on the subject. The Bible contains many poignant words on the subject, but in this instance I leave the words to the Caribbean poet Kendel Hippolyte, born in Saint Lucia, who wrote an evocative poem called Mammon in his poetry collection Birthright (Peepal Tree 1997).

The destruction of Baal's altar, and Gideon's sacrifice
BL MS Royal 2 B VII, psalter, England, between 1310 and 1320
Courtesy of British Library

ghost, guardian-spirit of banks, trans-national Corporations,
daylight deals in air-conditioned sewers
ghoul, eating the flesh of our dead childhood
ghost, effluvium of the rotting innocence in the skull-vault
ghost, smoke-screen between my self and your self
whose language is a hissing yes to vice
who salivates hypocrisies and sleeks the tongue with moss
who slithers between Man and Woman
who multiplies us only to divide
who adds and then subtracts to zero
ghost, slick as night-wet city streets
vinyl-skinned and glittering with devices
whose rock-pit is a gold-mine near Johannesburg
watching our children growing
never-closing nickel eyes minting their images
watch him, this god
rattle like dice, like thirty pieces of silver
watch him
flick and rustle a green promising tongue
watch him
grin like a wallet opening
watch him
as he whispers to you now.

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