new “shockwaves” drafts: prose poem version

"Meantime life outside goes on
All around you"
-Bob Dylan

“This is a life moment. It’s a moment in the life of this country. It’s a moment in the life of the world. It’s a moment in our family lives. It’s a moment for each of us.”

– Andrew Cuomo[1]: (22:49)

1.    The Shockwaves & Their Impact In General

Our views, would you agree (?) of a person can evolve and/or transform so drastically…. And in the midst of extremely disorienting periods of one’s life, these “evolutions” and/or “transformations” (whether or not accompanied by sufficient explanations) can be felt

 perhaps, (especially if one is quite relaxed) with quite exceptional meaningfulness, like a desert oasis, like a single rich and lively island in a vast expanse of sea—or better yet, like an archipelago!

Or better yet still, like the 100,000 dollar bill[2] (these monies were printed for less than a month to fund Federal Reserve Banks when the economy was tanking in the midst of the Great Depression)…

…Or like  the Earth here in this mystical universe… with no other known planets that can support life… so far as scientists have purported and reported… (though who knows what in future cases space rovers might find traces of.) 

What I mean is that some evolutions/transformations can be dramatic makeovers of souls, with the unconscious raising into consciousness brand new goals, revolutions in peoples’ notions of the universe/multiverse.

To experience certain episodes of human history and natural history…

 (of “natural history” I am referring to that which physics happens to do— atoms beyond any imagined sense of control you or I might try to dream up) 

…certain episodes that come and go that are very much unlike almost any other…and of course, as perceived “time” somewhat mystically proceeds, the context is often shaken up, sometimes more violently…

…as in the form, let us say, of a war, tsunami, earthquake, hurricane, blizzard, tornado, pandemic, et cetera…

(and so watch what goes on with everything one thinks one knows as it all blows around, gets thrown around… but it need not necessarily be found in the form of some violent storm… perhaps if it was just unseasonably cold or warm for a day or series of days, perhaps this one kiss was had in such a way as to cause one to review all one thought one knew about lust, love, attraction, attachments to people, et cetera…)

Maybe one little detail about one tiny thing changed how one thinks about existence, broadly speaking,–so that then when what once seemed like the most unprecedented of personal and/or cultural experiences, as one looks back, no longer is as dramatic as the latest development.


2.    The Shockwaves & Their Impact More Specifically on the Millennial Psyche

For example, let us give some thought to a theoretical millennial perspective; this interests me at this time most of all because the millennial is, at the time of this discussion, one who lived some piece of adolescence more or less in a pre-internet age and another piece of adolescence as the internet age was in the midst of its great launch into becoming “all the rage.”

Alyosha Comey, a scholar and professor of… “interdisciplinary studies”… as well as a “social-cultural critic”… he used to think, back when he was a kid, that the internet was the biggest thing fate would ever bring to his generation; that or maybe the Clinton impeachment…

…(since no president in recent had been impeached since Andrew Johnson in the 1868; though are we not, most of us, in agreement that Clinton and Johnson were not…. the only presidents to be considerably indecent in significant… but not necessarily all-encompassing respects?)

…were the most dramatic cultural experiences he’d ever lived through.

 But then the 9/11 attacks happened… and so came the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, questionable “intelligence” claiming Saddam Hussein was in possession of “Weapons of Mass Destruction”… the wars further destabilizing the already unstable Middle East…

(oh, to quote John Lennon: “all we are saying is give peace a chance”)

…which led to fighting in Libya, Syria, hysteria from which came the ISIS crisis…                         

My point being, what the millennials experienced, between early adolescence and early adulthood before implications could perhaps (?) be contextually understood—all these aforementioned things, these waves of dramatic happenings and culture change and then nature brings the Great Recession, worst economic disaster since the Great Depression.

To think of it all in an almost more spiritual way or if we say such events might possess some sort of “karmic energy” then it seems to me quite a giant mass of “shock waves” smashed young millennial minds.

There was at least one pleasantly purifying “shock wave”(though not to many of those denying the science of Climate Change and such things)…

…not only was the… first… African American voted into the office of the U.S. presidency but… he was perhaps the most equipped critical thinker to serve since….JFK? Woodrow Wilson? With an air of Abraham Lincoln to him, for example when, to the surprise of some, he cried at a press conference lamenting the unbearable pain of constant mass shootings in the last few decades and showed a compelling and believable display of sympathy and empathy.

But alas, then comes Donald Trump, who crumbled and jumbled so much it caused the political pundit Walter Holiday to see how out of touch he was; he then became—after being a registered Republican for about half a decade– a passionate and contrite Democrat.

 Donald Trump’s mere candidacy for the 2016 presidential election sent shockwaves of fear across much of the planet. Even Trump himself was shocked. And then the unprecedented disaster of his presidency… a pandora’s box of cultural and political nightmares giving the early  21st century Republican party its first major makeover since…in Walter’s view…Nixon’s Southern Strategy transplanting the tragedy of racism from the stereotypical Southern Democrats to the Southern Republicans.

“This is not what the GOP is supposed to be” Walter Holiday thought. “Where’s the fiscal responsibility?”

 “Ha! Ha! Ha! Please,” Alyosha said to Walter, “stop! I just can’t laugh any harder or I’ll vomit or my nose will gush with the coffee I was just drinking. I’ll never get how you got to thinking the GOP ever meant what they said about their ideals and principles…ha, like keeping the president aligned with the confines of strict or originalist interpretations of the U.S. constitution,”

–all of which, in all its zeal, even as a theoretical ideal, was blown to smithereens when Trump essentially re-wrote the GOP platform into a terrifying joke.


3.    A Brief Debate on Whether the Emergence of Trump Was As Traumatic As Many Believed It Was, Compared to Bush Jr. and Reagan

Naji Saqqaf—a television and film critic who is very political—  he laments that Trump was not so different than Reagan or Bush Jr.

“Oh please!” Walter Holiday said to Naji Saqqaf. “That’s a bunch of gup. At least Reagan stood up to the Soviets when he negotiated with them bringing its Communist grip on Eastern Europe to an end.”

“If you ask me,” Naji said, “we’re heading back in that direction again anyway so how much force did Reagan or Bush Sr. really have? Things then were bad just as things now are bad.”

And Walter said, “And at least Bush Jr. did not become Vladimir Putin’s foreign jester, letting Russian autocracy and Putin occultism fester within the GOP whilst spending, spending, spending, upending that so called fiscal conservatism. How much is our debt now? Clearly none of them meant a word about the debt.”

“That’s my point,” Naji said. “What’s so different between then and now?”  

 Walter responded thus: “Neither Bush nor Reagan were utterly compassionless—I admit, not wonderfully compassionate– and even if it took ferocious action from Democrats in congress to pressure them into some aspects of compassion….but Reagan did increase Medicare spending, Bush dared to increase education spending…”

“Dared?” Naji asked. “As if he cared about more than his own notion of prospects for re-election?”

“But catering to re-election prospects as such I don’t think is much of a bad thing compared to pandering to the worst sections of the nation’s voting population. ‘Basket of deplorables’ as Hillary Clinton put it. When 9/11 happened don ‘t forget Bush did not set out to make his election about banning Muslims and other immigrants with… brown skin….”

“You mean not so blatantly as Trump did. How about his underwhelming response to Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana? There’s a great New Republic article…”[3]

“You know I’m not so impressed so far as the New Republic goes.”

“Either way, you can’t say anything overgeneralizing about an organization.”

“Fox News?”

“Them too. Every now and then there’s a few noteworthy moments and people… Megyn Kelly, Shepard Smith…”

“The ones who ultimately ditch Fox News.”

“True.”     

“And Bush didn’t betray Ukraine and acquiesce to Putin’s good looks both in his suit and when his shirt is off. Oh come on. Tell me even straight men don’t masturbate to Putin just like they do to Mick Jagger. Both men have such sexy swaggers.”

“Please, just stick a dagger in my dick.”

“Obviously I’m kidding.”

4.    The Coronavirus2019 Pandemic

But what came next, in the context of all of these major, dramatic, even traumatic cultural “shock waves” was much graver and posed far greater danger, fundamentally changing the way people lived not just for weeks but for months… the Coronavirus 2019 Pandemic.

Unlike… anything… the world had seen since the Spanish Flu a century and two years ago. True, the Spanish flu was deadlier and less contained than Covid19 but I believe we must reiterate with emphasis that nothing quite like this had happened for several generations—and not just the deaths…

…but an almost complete shutdown of many countries’ economies… leading to the highest levels of unemployment since the Great Depression…this is not, I assure you, to lessen the collective cultural… trauma… and horror… of the bombings in Nagasaki and Hiroshima…the Holocaust…World War 1… all the lives that were lost from those nightmares and from the genocides perpetrated against blacks and indigenous populations…

But for those who did not experience those events (like the millennials as I mentioned), they were experiencing their own collective, cultural trauma, and this does raise the universal question of the impact on the soul that widespread cultural trauma can have, as perhaps you might have imagined?

 Worldviews/philosophies/ideologies may profoundly change when times are so radically strange and you see things like the front page of the Sunday May 24, 2020 New York Times which I believe illustrates the intensity of loss and horror folks then had to take in if there were awake enough to note…

(there’s actually a further significance I should like to point out… how the news “papers” were by then more widely read online than in “print” and so one might not have even noted the “front pages” when, say, one passes by the newspapers at the grocery store)

–the headline reads: “U.S. Deaths Near 100,000, An Incalculable Loss” and

“Instead of the articles, photographs or graphics that normally appear on the front page of The New York Times, on Sunday, there is just a list: a long, solemn list of people whose lives were lost to the coronavirus pandemic.”

as John Grippe explains in the online article about the front page[4]

But I was speaking of evolutions and transformations. So I shall progress with the execution of my explanations and articulations… 


[1] From “Governor Andrew Cuomo New York Coronavirus Press Conference Transcript March 26”  Rev. https://www.rev.com/blog/transcripts/governor-andrew-cuomo-new-york-coronavirus-press-conference-transcript

[2] See the article “Denominations” from the U.S Department of the Treasury “Resource Center” Frequently asked questions on denominations of U.S. Currency;  https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/faqs/Currency/Pages/denominations.aspx ; accessed on May 27, 2020

[3] The aforementioned article was written by Jeet Heer and published by the New Republic on October 23, 2017 and offers interesting insight on thinking twice, so to speak, on Bush nostalgia; “Liberals, Stop Applauding George W. Bush: One half-decent speech doesn’t atone for paving the way for Donald Trump” ; https://newrepublic.com/article/145456/liberals-stop-applauding-george-w-bush ; accessed May 29, 2020     

[4] It’s interesting to see a contrast between the New York Times and the Washington Post (arguably the two greatest or prominent papers of the day) in the midst of this strange Memorial Weekend Sunday—the New York Times captures a sense of the sheer dramatic feeling I think one in tune with the essence of this pandemic not quite escape. Meanwhile the Washington Post has a sort more “subdued” approach, not even mentioning on their home page anything about the nearly 100,000 though still keeping track of the official death count tally and other pandemic related numbers, statistics, et cetera. “The Project Behind a Front Page Full of Names”; (Times Insider); New York Times; Published May 23, 2020Updated May 24, 2020, 6:04 a.m. ET; https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/23/reader-center/coronavirus-new-york-times-front-page.html?action=click&module=Spotlight&pgtype=Homepage  

Author: Poetry by Sean O'Connor

Hi, I'm Sean. I’m a poet. My favorite poets, my literary role models, are Bob Dylan and John Lennon. Other poets I love include Lord Byron, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Claude McKay, and A.E. Stallings. Sometimes I like to write with a touch of the prosaic in my verses and to that end, the prose writers who most inspire me include Thomas Mann, Phillip Lopate (my favorite essayist), David Foster Wallace, Milan Kundera, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Robert Musil, Susan Sontag, Leslie Jamison, Michel de Montaigne, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, My themes tend towards the philosophical and psychological, exploring the idea of what it might mean and be like to live an ever improving life. I’m currently pursuing my MFA in Creative & Professional Writing at William Paterson University, where I also received my BA in Liberal Studies (with concentrations in Political Science & History). I also work as a writing tutor for Raritan Valley Community College. Aside from my writing, I’m vehemently political, fascinated with human sexuality, open about my polyamory and…I love dogs. My wife and I adopted a Siberian mix from St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in October of 2019.

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