"A Theory of the Origin of Western Civilization"

A Theory of the Origin of Western Civilization

 

When did we first witness

a shiny metal hook

sink deeply into a human back

deeply enough to hold

the struggling figure

securely suspended,

like a well-caught fish on a hook?

Sometimes the blood-red,

bone-white spine

was pulled through

the victim's back

by the weight and writhing

of the human body.

Imagine that!

 

We have seen the newsreels

of the Jews they called vermin,

hung neatly in a row

on Nazi meat hooks

in respectable German cellars,

hung neatly in a row

like little caps

hanging neatly in a row

in a neighborhood kindergarten in winter.

Imagine that!

Oh students

of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven,

oh singers

of Gregorian Chant,

imagine that!

 

Together, we enjoy watching

Leatherface on the wide screen

as he skewers the screaming girl

securely on the meat hook,

so he can finish preparing

in his butcher's kitchen

for the evening meal.

 

Retailers say,

“Fear is created by the merchandise.”

First the merchandise is presented,

then comes the fear.

And the fear is transforming.

In Kubrick's stunning overture

to 2001: A Space Odyssey

(“Dawn of Man”),

the ape-men (Australopithecus)

see the black monolith

for the first time,

circle it cautiously,

jabbering in fear,

then touching

the great object of peril

oh so tentatively

before exploring,

finally caressing

the truth.

 

First comes the merchandise,

then comes the fear.

And the fear is transforming.

The fear of Australopithecus

transforms the useless thigh bone

into a club of death,

a prehistoric meat hook

with which the primordial ape-man

can now see his way

to kill his same-species rival

at the waterhole.

Homicidal man is born,

master over his enemies

now so clearly evident

with his new tool of destruction.

 

Together, we enjoy watching

Leatherface on the wide screen

as he skewers the screaming girl

securely on the meat hook,

so he can finish preparing

in his butcher's kitchen

for the evening meal.

 

The mind and heart

of the Western World,

the Roman Empire,

perfected the practice

of crucifixion.

They nailed those enemies

who threatened the order of the State

to a cross,

enemies like the Jew Jesus,

who hung on the Roman meat hook

to assuage the common fear

of the good citizens of Rome.

 

Later, the new order

of Western Civilization

is the Christian Church.

Christianity itself

had become the meat hook.

If a man is afraid,

he will protect himself with something frightening.

The enemies of the Christian State

were treated with ritual torture

that led to confession,

that led to being tied to the stake,

the nedieval meat hook,'

so the enemy could be burned alive,

affirming the safety

of good Christians everywhere.

 

Together, we enjoy watching

Leatherface on the wide screen

as he skewers the screaming girl

securely on th emeat hook,

so he can finish preparing

in his butcher's kitchen

for the evening meal.

 

Everything began with the meat hook.

First came the merchandise,

then came the fear.

And the fear is transforming.

Hence we have the progress

of Western Civilization

hanging on the meat hook.

Or Western Civilization itself

is the meat hook,

and we are the meat.

We have Western Civilization's

philosophy of the meat hook,

the meat hook as foundation

of the m ind-body problem,

the Tree of Knowledge

in the Garden of Eden

as meat hook.

The Devil as meat hook.

So we swallow the meat hook

without being asked

for our own peace of mine.

Meathook.

Then there is silence.

Copyright 2012

 

This poem is probably Raymond's most direct assault on Civilization's history of death and butchery of its people. It begins from the first example of using a simple bone as a weapon and leads to untold horrors of later uses of and practices with similar results. Human kind has a long dark history of maiming and killing, always with resultant solicitudes to explain away the ugly truth, after the fact.

 

This is also one of Raymond's longer poems. The meter and replication of lines for meaning and value drive home the point being made. There is no hiding the fact that these lines defy the reader to argue against the points being made, as all are easily found in historical literature and modern cinematic works. Those lines speak of who we as a Civilization, and how might want to be when we become more enlightened.

 

 

 

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