• Paul D. Wilke

Me, Myself, and I



First we killed God,

and called it progress,

the leaving behind

of childish myths,

a product

of the imagination,

crafted to reflect

our noblest aspirations.

So God was pushed

out of the way

for our own good

and humanity became

its own master,

soaring so much higher

now without

the chains of dogma

holding it back.

God was an idea

of the infinite

created to give

purpose and meaning

to our finite

existence,

a light to protect us

from the darkness.

Humanity didn't need

that illusion

anymore.

Or so we thought.

Now we live and die

in soft safety,

with Prozac and Viagra

to keep us going.

Who needs

a Higher Power

when people can

indulge themselves

like decadent Greek gods?

There is no darkness

in this better world,

just fast food,

warm beds,

and free porn,

and mindfulness,

of course,

to keep us centered

and forever orbiting

the new and improved

Holy Trinity of

me, myself, and I.

Then we slew the heroes,

killing them for

their imperfections,

those so-called exemplars

of human excellence

who hinted at the heights

of our potential.

We knew we could never

be divine,

but we could model

ourselves

on the best among

us,

those noble souls

who guided us to

our better selves.

Our heroes now,

such as they are,

are athletes,

entertainers,

and self-help gurus,

all one and the same,

ephemeral performers

in this never-ending now.

We no longer accept

claims to human greatness.

What an oxymoron!

How odd to put

a mere mortal

on a pedestal,

someone no better

than you or me!

No heroes are allowed

in the Land of the Level

unless they sing,

or dance,

or make money!

But Mammon is not a hero.

Celebrity is not heroic.

I am not either.

What then,

I asked

me, myself, and I?

Next

we laughed

at the patriots,

turning a love of country

into crude chauvinism.

We smirked when they spoke of

duty and sacrifice

to the nation.

Why?

To what purpose?

To wage wars for Walmart?

For Amazon's bottom line?

Patriotism became

the simple man's ideology,

something dim-witted rubes clung to

with their God and guns.

Only fascists and rednecks

still got excited about

flags and anthems.

"And anyway,"

the finger-wagging scolds

would solemnly declare,

"what is the nation

but a collection of

myths,

lies,

and crimes?

What's to admire?

Throw it all away,"

they demanded,

"it's nothing but

another false idol!

Set yourselves free!"

And so we cosmopolitans did,

deconstructing life

all the way down to

dead atoms.

Yet nothing

poured in to fill

the vacuum but

me, myself, and I.

Then they came for eros,

and no one

raised any objections.

Romantic love was

an anachronism,

an emotion only

indulged vicariously

through television and movies,

those two digital condoms

for our souls.

Romance collapsed into hedonism,

something ordered off

a glowing menu,

swipe right, swipe left,

transient transactions

to chase fleeting pleasures,

forever and ever, amen.

But no ache,

not anymore,

the ache of love was gone,

the heat of love's passion too,

and no longing either,

for nothing was left

to ache or long for.

We recoil from intimacy,

real intimacy,

ego-melting intimacy,

shrinking and timid,

afraid of committing ourselves

to any enduring

loss of

self

into another,

into the real holy communion,

forever and ever, amen.

We cripples can't speak

love's language anymore

without digital crutches.

Our emotions now stir only

when stirred artificially,

experiencing mediated emotions

from mediated mediators,

all the way down.

This may be

the saddest truth of them all for

me, myself, and I.

Rest easy,

my dear friends

in the mirror,

it's better this way!

What you've lost,

you've gained in

efficiency

and comfort.

Who needs

the heat of passion

when you have

air conditioning?

Why feel anything

when it might hurt?

Just have fun!

And if you don't like it,

take a pill to pretend

it's otherwise.

Just be happy!

Or jack into the Matrix

and forget

that you can remember

how it used to be,

or how it could be still.

Just try harder!

Or whatever.

Who gives a damn?

No one is listening

anymore

in this digital

blinking world

without soul.

No God,

no hero,

no grateful nation,

no eager lover,

nobody,

nothing,

and no one left

but each alone

in the dark,

head bowed,

worshiping

me, myself, and I.


The Scream by Edvard Munch - 1893




Sainte-Mère-Église, France

May 2021

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