In your interviews, I notice an optimism concerning the future of art. What does that optimism stem from?
My state of optimism arises from the need I sense for there to be a counterbalance of energy to combat the negativity and nihilism that so many disillusioned people project in this modern culture. There is no doubt that society is currently weighed down by the regressive, oppressive, fascistic institutions that have been gradually gaining more and more undo power and control over the past several decades. When citizens begin to feel that freewill and personal decisions are no longer available due to the centralized structures of the Beast System continually eroding sovereignty and liberty, they lose touch with the most important aspect of what it means to be a human being blessed with consciousness and self-awareness. Which is to say, they lose their individuality and are swallowed by the mechanical, hive-mind forces of collectivism. It’s only natural that angst, anger, and apathy will soon follow, and the deeper a person falls into the trap of feeling powerless, the more they will concede what remaining control they have over to the very systems which feed on them like a parasite.
At a certain point, people seem to just throw their hands in the air and give up hope, either joining along with the decadence through the misguided thinking that they can regain power by serving the Beast, or simply losing all desire to care which leads to a different, more pervasive, type of depravity. I harbor no Pollyannaish illusions about some sort of miracle soaring down through the heavens to save the human species. I know damn well that the only way to correct the course we are heading down is for those who do still have a fighting spirit to lift their voices on high and shout encouragement into the world for those who might still have the ears to hear such a positive message. All is not lost. Yet. But changes are desperately needed, and quickly. Civilization has entered into a stage of chaos, but if we play our cards correctly, we will emerge on the other side in a state of higher order. A muscle must first be broken down before it can be built back up with stronger tissue. This is a basic natural law which applies to all matter in the physical plane of existence. As Nietzsche is well known for having said: That which does not kill you only makes you stronger.
We are facing great trials and tribulations, it is true. But I respond to that by saying: Thank God! I choose to align with the energy of adaptation and evolution. Survival of the fittest, sure. But, in this day and age, it is also a question about survival of the wisest. Survival of those who keep their heads screwed on straight atop a swiveling neck while refusing to play into the victim mentality which leads only to a further sense of feeling downtrodden. I’m not here to heal the world. I’m not here to snap my fingers or twitch my nose and make all the problems magically disappear. I offer no guarantee that there will be success, but I swear on the grave of billions of years of ancestral DNA which courses through my veins that I will do everything I possibly can to espouse the values born from out the Magna Carta, Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States of America, and Bill of Rights, along with the Enlightenment and Renaissance cultures. Our forbearers fought off the grip of tyranny and terrorism that once choked them. That vice grip has returned around our necks tighter than ever. I enthusiastically and optimistically believe in my heart of hearts that there are people on this earth alive today who will help play key roles in chopping such a villainous hand off for good.
Do you feel there is a cultural renaissance emerging? Often renaissance develops from world decay, especially turmoil in nations and the natural order becoming unsustainable. What signs do you see of this renaissance?
Well, as the old adage goes, sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before being able to begin the rise back upwards toward salvation. Humans can be a rather stubborn breed, so it takes a while for lessons to sink in sometimes. Mistakes are often repeated, as if spinning in an eternal loop, before the light bulb starts flashing with an electric eureka! This, unfortunately, applies on the macro scale as well concerning civilizations. Morality has been drained from the body politic, and we are now a withered, fragile nation. However, the end is never truly the end, but only a new beginning in the constantly unfolding process of life’s continuation.
My forthcoming book, Chaos Songs, from Weasel Press is dedicated to the chaos that must first be experienced before a higher state of order can emerge. We’ve admitted there is a problem; now, we can begin to work on solutions.
Yes, there is a cultural renaissance taking place. Artistically and spiritually. One of the most positive signs I’ve noticed has to do with communities returning to the land to produce clean, healthy, natural foods. Healthy gut bacteria helps to create a healthy mind, and so the importance on what we put into our bodies cannot be stressed enough. The rise of pharmaceutical companies and their propaganda of symptom-suppressing allopathic modalities of Western medicine has led to an untenable situation. Polluted blood leads to fuzzy thinking. Burnt out adrenals leads to sluggishness and depression. Glands polluted with toxins leads to a scenario of the living dead. The remedy for this zombie nation is a cleanse, a baptism, a purification from within. Raw, living, electrically-charged, enzyme-rich, nutrient-dense foods are the wave of the future. That which is old shall be made new again. I am not anti-science nor anti-technology by any means, but I am willing to decry and call bullshit on modern-day snake-oil salesmen and pushers of synthetic poison. The truth is found in the fresh fruit hanging ripe from the tree, not the isolated compounds cooked up in laboratories to cash in on big bucks.
There is a time and a place for all things in life, and so I’d be a fool to espouse a belief that there is never a need for “modern” medicine. Emergency situations and extreme circumstances absolutely assure us that opioids, anti-depressants, and anti-bacterial drugs are beneficial in some cases. These cases are in the extreme minority. A majority of medications nowadays are writ from a position of ignorance, and these almost always exacerbate the original condition. All that being said, I salute EMTs and physicians who do good work.
Where the hell did that jag come from? Who knows? I’m just glad I didn’t start blasting the field of oncology. This is neither the time nor place. Anyway, moving right along…
Another key aspect that gives me heart and helps to steel my will in this battle for a peaceful future comes from the modern day shamans who are tapped in to the holy spirit. The role of the artist in society is to serve as a reflection of the shadow aspects of the collective consciousness, while also shining light on solutions at the end of the tunnel. Being immersed in the contemporary lit scene during the past two years, I can say unequivocally that there are enough good people on the job to get this runaway train turned around. There will soon be a quantum leap, and then growth in a positive direction will become exponential and unstoppable.
Where do you think the best poetry is being created today?
I can, of course, only speak from my subjective experience, but I do feel that my finger is at least partially placed upon the pulse of the contemporary scene. I’ve made it a point over the past two years to immerse myself deeply in as many communities of independent, small press poetry publishers as possible. The global connectivity allowed for by the internet and social media has allowed me to discover great work from across the world. I can speak, first of all, about different pockets here in the United States, chief among them being The Southern Collective Experience. We in the group are doing our best to spread the good word about poetry’s viable path into a bright future.
There is also excellent work coming out of India, Nigeria, and across Europe. I regularly read poets from Albania to Australia, from Pakistan to Canada, from the coasts of Asia to the shores of Antarctica (well, OK, maybe I’m stretching it a bit there when it comes to the frozen tundra). I think that in this modern age we live in, it is not so much a matter of where geographically the best poetry is being written because the art form itself is representative of a specific state of mind, and so it can flower and bloom in just about any locale, whether near a pristine beach or under the scorching sun in an arid desert. The best poetry is found in any atmosphere where awakened, self-aware, highly conscious beings live. Those type of people who are infused with passion burning through their souls, and who are in direct communion with the source of life itself. It has always been this way. It just so happens that we are now blessed to be alive at a momentous point of time when such voices are able to come together via the world wide web to make new connections. This is just one of many reasons why I am so high on the spirit of an artistic revolution being able to energetically alter the wave that humanity rides into the future.
Sometimes the most culturally backwards places create the conditions necessary for revolutionary thought and art. Do you find a parallel in America today for this tendency?
I may have jumped the gun a bit in an earlier answer when I spoke to this general idea. But to reiterate, yes, when an individual or a collective group gets pushed into a corner and is facing untenable circumstances, the basic human will toward freedom and liberty is ignited. Governments, along with the international, above the law banks and corporations which said governments sponsor, are completely out of control at this point with their methods of tyranny. The natural course that this ultimately leads to is revolt. We see it in the streets as anger foments. But the violence such a course creates only begets further violence, and revolutions born of such base emotions oftentimes lead to even worse conditions. The only true revolution is that which takes place within an individual’s own consciousness. It is a type of paradigm shift which must be undertaken internally, which then leads to an uprising of spirit. Basically, it is a return of common damn sense. It is a renaissance of humanity signified by seizing back the reins of control from crony capitalist systems of fascism. We live in interesting times to say the least.
What are your thoughts on Brexit? Is this another sign that the natural order is changing directions?
The referendum put forth recently in which the British people voted to leave the European Union has the potential to be one of the most important political shifts in a generation. Of course, there will likely be a years-long interval before the official separation is ratified, and so politicians, who have been known to occasionally ignore the will of their citizens, could still figure out a treacherous way to weasel out of the exit. But the message has been sent, loud and clear, across the world. The majority of people prefer to keep the power over their lives in local government, not international systems where unaccountable technocrats rule through some type of neo Divine Law.
The European Union, whatever its original intentions might have been, has developed into a dangerous, authoritarian political machine. My opinion is that it should suffer the same fate as the Soviet Union, and the sovereignty of individual nation states should be returned to the people where it belongs. There have been recent murmurings about an EU army being established. To hell with that. Dismantle the Beast now before it gets any larger. I fully believe this process is underway after the Brexit episode showed other nations that there is a viable path out of the union.
The bigger the giant is, the harder it will fall. So, of course, there will be some precarious financial situations created as the deconstruction process begins. So it goes. Ripping off a Band-Aid stings for a moment, but after the wound is exposed to fresh air it can heal more readily.
Although you are a poet and not a political analyst, what are your thoughts on decentralized and centralized governance? What strengths and weaknesses do you perceive in both?
Because I am a man who unabashedly, even brazenly, rants and raves against collectivized forms of government in an effort to rouse the rabble toward the imminent cessation of such systems, I’m not sure that I can provide an unbiased answer here.
But I do wholeheartedly support the free association of people, and I fully believe that communities and organizations which are formed out of individuals’ desire to work together can bring about incredible results. Thank God for charity!
Social systems have the ability to provide food for the hungry, clothing for the poor, and housing for those who have hit hard times. Such systems can also help to educate children, protect the environment, build roadways, create gardens and co-ops, fund art programs, and do almost anything else conceivable in the hearts and minds of humanity. All without needing to first steal the resources of a certain class of people to fund a bloated bureaucracy that doles out the dough.
What 20th century poets do you think carry the strongest voice for today? Who seems most prophetic in their vision?
I’m going to take a dive on this one. I would be talking out of class if I pretended to have a scholarly understanding of twentieth century poetry. I’ll leave such a conversation to more capable minds. In a few years from now, after I’ve had a chance to study some of the past voices that many of my readers have compared me to, I’ll be able to give this question a go. As for now, I am too focused on the contemporary scene and how it can bring about the type of future that pulses in the back of my mind 24/7/365. I know that might sound like a bit of a copout, but I’d also suggest that there is such a thing as the old rope-a-dope…
What are your feelings about Songs of a Dissident? I, as publisher, was drawn to the political perspective and its precision. It is defined and provocative. When I ask for feelings, I refer to the process of writing it, the results, and the experience of seeing it published.
The process that Songs of a Dissident has gone through, from originally compiling and structuring the collection of poems to the current day where it has now been out in the world for around eight months, has been extraordinary.
The poems themselves were written in late 2014 and the first two months of 2015 during a period when I was watching and listening to documentaries, interviews, and recorded performances of Charles Bukowski. Some of the pieces are heavily influenced by his straight-forward, brutally honest approach to writing without pretense or fluff. The title of the book was inspired by the social justice newsletter, Dissident Voice, where I began my publishing career two years ago. To this day, I still contribute a weekly piece to the Sunday Poetry Page at DV. When I began putting the chapbook together, I was consciously looking to create an overall theme centered around the darker aspects of modern-day political and social institutions.
The process of getting the collection accepted was, thankfully, quite smooth. Transcendent Zero Press was the first publisher that I submitted the manuscript to, and they turned out to be the perfect fit. Working with Dustin Pickering has been an excellent experience; he helped guide the publication along at every turn with true professionalism, and I felt confident from the beginning that he understood the direction I was aiming towards with the material. Dustin wrote a generous introduction to the collection, and the Greek artist Christos Karapanos provided the front cover image of a fiery phoenix. The cover design was expertly polished off by Glynn M. Irby who put together a nice finished product.
Since the book’s release in December of 2015, I’ve been well pleased with the response and feedback from readers. There have been strong reviews published in Tuck Magazine, Indiana Voice Journal, Section 8 Magazine, Adam Levon Brown’s site, Ragazine, and Asian Signature. I’ve had an opportunity to read poems from the collection at several events, including the radio program Dante’s Old South which is hosted by The Southern Collective Experience in coordination with NPR/WUTC in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
I have two new collections that have become available in 2016 (Happy Hour Hallelujah through CTU Publishing and Chaos Songs through Weasel Press), but my enthusiasm for Songs of a Dissident is still growing, and I plan to continue promoting the work as much as possible. There are a number of opportunities coming into place on the horizon, and I’m hopeful that word concerning the collection will continue to spread as it is introduced to a wider audience.
Are there any statesmen you draw inspiration from? Do you ever doubt your vision of the political arena?
The statesman that I’ve found to be the most honorable in the fifteen years since I began following politics is Ron Paul. His message resonated with me during the 2012 Presidential campaign, and still does today, although I admit to not following his work as closely as I once did. His son Rand inherited the grassroots movement that his father helped grow during his decades of dedication to the Libertarian/Constitutionalist cause, but, sadly, the Judas-son has tossed in his lot with the establishment of the RNC, and now the Campaign for Liberty has been swallowed by the machinery of the two-party system.
I am constantly questioning my understanding of the political arena. I’d be insane not to. There is massive disinformation spewed from all directions, no matter where one turns to find a semblance of truth. Every media outlet has an agenda, and many of them are anti-American. I view corporate “news” channels such as CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, and NBC as being globalist mouthpieces. I watch them as a way of monitoring the enemy. That being said, I also view FOX, Breitbart, Daily Caller, Infowars, WND, and Drudge Report with the same amount of skepticism that I do Huffington Post, Salon, Think Progress, Media Matters, and the New York Times. Or, for that matter, RT, Young Turks, and Al Jazeera. The point is, however, that I do at least monitor all these outlets, along with several other less-known programs, on a regular basis. My angle of perception is constantly being adjusted to try and decipher just what in the actual hell is going on.
One of my favorite games these days during the current political season is to scroll through social media newsfeeds and try to determine which propaganda source different people are getting their talking points from. It is usually not too hard a tail to pin on the donkey. Sadly, critical discernment is not a big issue amongst the blind cult members of the major political parties in America. Cognitive dissonance runs rampant, and it’s one of the major contributing factors as to why the situation has reached such dire straits.
On a final note, I once wrote that religion offered no hope but politics can change the world and inspire movement. In recent years, with promises in elections and still seeing a lack of real lasting change, I have forgotten that tune. Now I see action as doing what inspires action, competing with yourself for betterment, and forgetting Washington’s antics and drivel. Perhaps religion offers personal perspective, unity of thought, and hope to continue your endeavors even in opposition. I treated politics as a religion in my twenties but see that for the most part voting and activism is limited in scope. An individual must find hope somewhere. Please offer your thoughts on this perspective.
I can certainly relate to this question, as my own philosophy concerning both religion and politics has gone through several transformations over the years. In fact, I would say that my views have shifted nearly 180 degrees on both subjects. During my late teens and most of my twenties, I believed Judeo-Christianity and all the Abrahamic religions to be, perhaps, the most wicked and vile institutions ever established in the history of humanity, infecting the hearts and minds of billions of people. Further, because of a lack of self-love coupled with my disgust for the species (severely influenced by my perception of Nietzsche’s work at the time), I was suffering from the misbegotten ideology that the government should be used to control and dictate the lives of those I felt to be fools.
All of this thinking was turned on its head when I reached my early thirties. Through a regiment of meditation, exercise, healthy dietary practices, extensive research on any number of subjects, and the cultivation of mindfulness, I was able to experience an epiphany (I will refrain from referring to it as an enlightenment) of self-worth, inner peace, and love for my true purpose as a man. With this love for the self, a love for the species as a whole was also born within my spirit.
This is when I came to the realization that religion, while it has certainly been used by those in power to commit heinous and wretched acts, is still, in the final equation, a matter of freewill. In America, at least. I understand that there are many places on earth where religion is still a controlled and oppressive force, and I stand opposed to any system of this kind. But, in those territories where it is a matter of choice, I no longer take issue with any individual who finds strength or comfort in their particular belief of God. I respect their right to worship freely as they see fit, even if, in some cases, I don’t necessarily happen to agree with them.
Government, however, I now realize to be fundamentally antithetical to freewill. It is a system forced upon people using the threat of violence, imprisonment, and execution. I love humanity, and I love the concept of personal responsibility. When individuals are allowed to blaze their own trail in life, they are able to reach toward their highest potential. Success is not guaranteed, of course, but it is at least possible. The larger a governmental system becomes, the more stifled the will of individuals becomes. I no longer harbor those extreme, control freak traits that led me to favor a centralized power apparatus controlling the masses. Now I, without hesitation, openly sing the song of voluntaryism, the right to self-defense, the non-aggression principle, and true anarchy (which, despite all the hubbub and hype, is actually just a philosophy advocating the absence of rulers). Let each individual manifest his or her destiny upon this glorious paradise of earth. The paradigm shift is well underway already. I only seek to catch the high wave and ride it as long and as far as possible.
To speak directly to the idea of hope, I believe that the more freedom a person has, the more hope they will sense for the future. Finding inner peace is the single greatest quantum leap of consciousness that can be experienced. It is the ultimate game-changer. Every shaman, prophet, guru, and true spiritual guide throughout history has echoed the same basic sentiment, and I, certainly, could not possibly say it any better than Christ did when he put forth these ideas in the Gospel of Thomas: “The Kingdom of God is found within. If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” Amen. Selah. Hallelujah.