Unsolicited Requiem, Oct. 14-17/2016
I got an interesting letter in the mail the other day. It was from a local funeral home. It asked the receiver to fill out a 12 question survey for a chance to win $10,000. A figure I find to be close to a price middling between a basic and a grand send-off. I became unsure of the letter’s purpose and in searching for a caveat that said winnings would be held for use through the provider, I found no such fine print. Could they reveal that later, or would that be a violation of the rules? Not stated, doesn’t pertain. Any lawyer could argue that in the event of discrepancy. But it got me thinking that maybe the caveat comes when the winner goes to claim their prize, given an option of credit for their unavoidable interment. Bait ‘em, get ‘em in the door, then spring the trap of truth on ‘em…Think of your family…Unburden them of this strife…<Where’s the dignity in that pseudo-sentiment?> The whole thing came off like a friendly reminder of what awaits, trying to add some zeal and pep to the inevitable. They even use a rotund jolly fellow playing a Rickenbacker bass, and a slogan, in print larger than the rest of the letter, that says, “Because you’re unique, your opinion matters”. I don’t have a problem with that. I do believe people should be listened to, not censored or kept quiet. But people need to arrive there of their own accord, not told they’re special and that they matter. Not coerced into being individual. That requires some digging. And so far, that’s not the way I see the societal course. I notice realization of self everywhere, sure. It’s in commercials for pro-biotic yogurt, on billboards for sportswear, in letters concerning arrangements about my final act of succumbing— spurious marketing as it is, lots fall for the deception ingrained deeply in words of inspiration— but it’s as forced as an apology coming from some inbred press secretary trying to play down foul and despicable acts perpetrated by a public figure.
Or have I got it wrong, and it is just a harmless letter of inquiry? Even with that possibility, I just can’t stop thinking: What do they really want? The letter from the funeral home has got to be more than a simple community census. They could pay an independent firm to run their polls. Why do they need to know if you’ve planned your final arrangements, or if you think it’s beneficial to do so in advance. or if you’ve been responsible for making cemetery arrangements before, or what kind of final resting scenario you’d rather be in (Full body and chemically preserved, or a box of ash and fragments of bone)?
This bloody letter tells me: “We can wait for your business, we know it’s on the horizon”…and it comes off like a sardonic pawn shop handshake after a period of banter and haggle at a place that doesn’t care if there’s a serial number on the goods, or not. They want you on file. Named in the system, so that when you do meet that bereaved time of loss, certain specifics will be at the ready. Getting you, or yours, in the door, processed, and in the ground as efficiently as possible. NEXT!!!!! And you know as well as I do that NEXT ain’t too far off.
I’d buy that one. For sure. If the price is right. But, with that being said, I’ve been strung along a lot. Made to play fool enough times that I can’t accept the surface intention of solicitation anymore. What are the ideas behind the eyes? A person can say whatever they want, if they understand the basics of language. That doesn’t mean that the goals and motives that are really sought, inside the head, only known by the person speaking, synch with the words coming out of their mouth. That’s what “taken at face value” means to me. I don’t believe that idiom can be correlated with anything but abject indecision concerning true nature of intent. I refuse to believe it correlates with sincerity.
I want the truth. I’m not the first to ask for it, either. Pummel me with it, if need be. I can handle it. What I can’t handle is the anxious deduction of what truth others are passing out. So many tout their version as IT. With so many outlets, and so many correspondents, and so many combinations of interpretive guise, there are lots of opinions and options from which to procure the ‘Truth’ that fits specific needs. Disenfranchisement, paranoia, second-guessing, gaslighting, and misappropriated allegiance; all side-effects of the search. Where we’ve gone wrong is thinking that they have been forcing what to believe, down our throats. In exact contrast, they’ve been starving us for the truth. Humans can only go so long without sustenance. They’ll let you go mad or die before you get what you need to survive. The saying, “thinning the herd”, comes to mind. Emaciated and delirious we patiently wait for it to all be O.K. Some find ways to stave off the effects, but they too run low on youth and vigour, sooner or later. It’s like being given a pack of matches and some lighter fluid when a cold, cold night approaches and there’s no shelter or anything to burn-- there’s always the option to immolate yourself instead of freezing to death.
In 1962, in the dystopian and fictional world of A Clockwork Orange, “The Ludovico Technique” was a method for transforming the horrid and twisted mind of a youth. For as fictional as it was intended, it drew attention to commentary on brainwashing and conditioning. Nowadays, it looks like that fictional technique is indeed a tool and standard of self-hypnosis. Only now, people’s eyelids don’t need to held from shutting with specula, nor are eyedrops required to lubricate them for the onslaught of devastation. And the supposed “aversion therapy”, intended as a cure, has had a reverse effect on the populace. No effect, even. People are watching and conditioning themselves without the help or insistence of a doctor, or an agency, or by way of a judge’s fiat. The population was warned, by more than just Anthony Burgess, and a new generation of obliviants are erasing and ignoring those warnings, perilously. Desensitizing and disinfecting all on their own.
Getting back to the letter, when people provide a service, get paid and make profit, they’re your best friends. Chit-chat and all that ‘how ya doin’ buddy’, shit. But when the consumer has something to sell to the pimps of product, they receive scoffs and avoided reciprocation. “How ya doin’’ becomes ‘Next time, bud’. A humouring of the masses to extract what’s needed, what’s invisibly owed. Repugnant, repudiable behaviour. What can I possibly have that a funeral home wants except my corpse?…but what else should we expect? To most, they are new monsters with new faces. To me, though, they’ve gleaned their traits from monsters of old. Refined them to their liking. Added some spice where the new ones think the old ones went bland. Reading from an internal script they’ve been adding to and reciting for decades.
I watched Noam Chomsky speak, in the documentary Requiem for the American Dream, about the cultural change in the 60’s, and how officials saw and understood what was to come if they didn’t cap the civil movement, somehow. I find it interesting that the regulations imposed upon banks were lifted or altered in the 70’s. Almost as if those in power knew they had to minutely stifle the progression of movements by providing a means for people to imprison themselves. No, I can’t articulate like Mr. Chomsky can, but he makes sense. He comes off as candidly honest. So that means I’m either under a spell, or my gut is reacting rightly.
My hearing might be going, but I can still sense the call for blood in whispered, well-edited calls of reproach. It’s inlaid in the cyber battle of the Incense-itives…The Grand Wizards of Instigation. And I’m lead to believe that’s paranoia or conspiracy or delusion. That I have no way of proving my ideas, and they end up passed off as anecdotal conjecture and refutable. There will always be someone to refute claims. You think Alexander the Great didn’t have detractors? The same goes for Egyptian Pharaohs, Roman Emperors, British Royalty and revolution progenitors, of any ilk, the world and history over. There will always be the controllers and the controlled. The PR campaign has been tweaked. I don’t find that to be a stretch. The ultra-violet light is on us now more than ever. You’ve got to explain the mess that seems invisible to the naked eye, or learn how to cover it up and erase the trail and evidence.
All I know is that I don’t want to fill out a questionnaire concerning my preparedness of funeral arrangements, or what my main reason for making them are. Or if I think cemetery, and all services associated, should be provided at one place as a complete service. They’re telling me that Death is Privatized, on all fronts. Most will throw this kind of letter in with the recycling, anyhow. Not knowing what is really being asked of them. I for one don’t want a company soliciting me about that dark, foreboding truth we all know is coming. Let me enjoy this life. Stop harassing me to join your clientele of future business with your letters of profit-seeking sympathy that just needs a flash under that revealing ultra-violet light to be seen for what it is: My Unsolicited Requiem. ©