Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Holiday Tradition: Thanksgiving Prayer by William S. Burroughs

 "Thanksgiving Prayer" by poet, William S. Burroughs.
Watching this has become a tradition with me. It is a nice way to embrace what is dark,disturbing, and distressing about our Amerikkan heritage. It is kinda like reading Air Conditioned Nightmare by Henry Miller (Will be reviewing that book shortly). It cuts through the artery clogging grease of self-congratulation and grotesque hubris of our countrymen. It casts the evil eye on mean-spiritied neo-puritanism and anti-intellectualism that hates art, science, women, gays, dark people. It takes a mid-century junky to see that our country is diseased and put it into words. It shows what happens when a great mind gets hold of opiates he can plug into a subcutaneous of our national psyche. When I offered these thoughts to the Wonkette forum, Dashboard Jesus offered the following quite: 

"It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society" ~ Krishnamurti 
I do pause and consider my attraction to artists who are considered degenerates, drunks, druggies, deviants, and damsels of decadent living. Many of these people see the dark underbelly of our culture after taking all sorts of mind altering, and some see all this before and are driven to numb the pain of knowing the truth about the world around them. Being a student of human history, you know their pessimism is based on documented fact. Shock and awe began right after the native Americans feasted with us and we have been doing variations of it ever since. Our love of guns run parallel to the beginning of the KKK. For all our strength, we are a fearful people. We only use our lizard brains to desire or react to things that threaten us. It is as if we know on a cellular level our collective sins, and know we wouldn't deserve mercy if those our culture tormented came to power. 

My son learned a song about the Native Americans and the pilgrims for Thanksgiving  that stops short before you talk about diseased blankets and a brutal sense of manifest destiny. How long do I wait to tell him the darker side of life? There will be plenty of time, I guess,  for him to develop a dystopic pessimism. My feeling is that I need to kick start him with the optimism and faith that hard work, discipline, intellect, and compassion will yield him much success. 

It is true that while I can entertain the darkness, I am at heart an idealistic optimist. I still have hope that we will wake up and reject our nation's dark side.

Happy Thanksgiving, Kids.

Thanks for the wild turkey and
the passenger pigeons, destined
to be shat out through wholesome
American guts.

         Thanks for a continent to despoil
and poison.
Thanks for Indians to provide a
modicum of challenge and

Thanks for vast herds of bison to
kill and skin leaving the
carcasses to rot.
Thanks for bounties on wolves
and coyotes.

Thanks for the American dream,
To vulgarize and to falsify until
the bare lies shine through.

Thanks for the KKK.

For nigger-killin' lawmen,
feelin' their notches.

For decent church-goin' women,
with their mean, pinched, bitter,
evil faces.

Thanks for "Kill a Queer for
Christ" stickers.

Thanks for laboratory AIDS.

Thanks for Prohibition and the
war against drugs.

Thanks for a country where
nobody's allowed to mind their
own business.

Thanks for a nation of finks.

Yes, thanks for all the
memories-- all right let's see
your arms!

You always were a headache and
you always were a bore.

Thanks for the last and greatest
betrayal of the last and greatest
of human dreams.

No comments: