Say you’re just starting out. Doesn’t matter what you’re doing. Anything. Constructing a human being, say. Better yet—a robot, one with a complete and totally spot-on human anatomy. And you know nothing about anatomy, yourself, say. You’re like one of those tribal priests of the indigenous Kogis in modern-day Colombia, who grew up in a f—ing cave until he was 9 years old. Only you’re an assembly worker, not a little priest, though you’re basically still in a cave, and all you handle is the human legs, and you attach them to the body when it comes down the line. Legs which had already been assembled by someone else, so you don’t actually know what the hell a “leg” really is. All you do is pop the femoral head into the pelvis, and splatter a little glue to the muscles and ligaments around it, and it all just magically adheres to make it an integral part of the body. And then do it another 4,999 times over the course of your shift.
Or a car, or a hippopotamus, or a carnie break tent, or whatever. Stubby hippopotamus legs. Automotive steering knuckles. Folding chairs and can for the cigarette butts. Dark area to smoke meth. Doesn’t really matter, it’s a metaphor.
But sheltered factory workers and lower human extremities will suit our metaphorical purposes just fine.
And you do that for three, four years, say. After a while, you begin to understand what a leg is made of, what the purpose of a leg is, what the rest of the torso and extremities are for and, in the end, the physical purpose of a human body, and all the activity it can get up to.
Don’t ask me how, you just do. Because you’re a human being. And you possess the powers of deduction, problem-solving, puzzle-solving and an imagination.
Sitting there, all that time, you’ve come to see that your own physical body is little different from this object you’re helping to construct. And, to you, and to the world who interacts with these robots and actually thinks they’re real people—to whom these robots sell all various forms of personal security, drafted legislation and bills, an overabundance of needless products, and overall a way of life that you feel benefits you but in reality doesn’t—these robot bodies y’re pretty much real people.
And it starts to weird you out. Twilight-Zone-style.
Because, well, somebody’s funding this whole endeavor, right? You get a paycheck, don’t you?
But there’s little you can do or say about any of it, because you’re an assembly worker. You can whisper it to your friends on the line, but all they’ll do is lie and change the subject because they don’t really care or aren’t that bright, saying, “Yeah, we know. Hey, O’Haggerty is sitting on a wicked nest of hemorrhoids, and we’re going to swap the Preparation H in his locker with liquid nitrogen, or possibly Nair. We’re not sure yet. You want in?” You can tell your family when you get home, but all they’ll say is, “Wowwww. Reeeaaally? That’s crazy,” or something just as patronizing because they really don’t believe it, or don’t want to, don’t want their life patterns to be altered in the slightest. You can go online to some chat forum, but then everyone there is not only going to act like they already know, too, but pretend to be much smarter than you and tell you that every single life form on Earth has been made in an assembly plant, past and present, including you, and that space aliens landed 5,000 years ago on Earth, bringing with them the blueprints of various species and tinctures of LSD, and ever since everything’s just been one big hazy cycle of life and death and fornication and no one really knows anything at all.
Except the space aliens. And the government. Which is lying to you.
But here, in your own hands every day, even though it’s just a f—ing plastic leg, you’ve got not only the proof that something is awry or amiss or that things aren’t really as they’re portrayed by broadcast, online and social media—and in the thoughts of those people who follow it—but proof that it’s been going on for ages, and that it’s likely going to continue indefinitely, because: giant factory of robots.
And there’s next to nothing you can do about it.
In case you can’t tell, this is how I feel every time I read the news, and then sit down and have to write about it.
The large scale’s too large for 1,000 words, and the small scale tends to leave out the bigger picture. And I’m stuck, attaching this leg to this f—ing torso and then magically gluing the muscles and ligaments together, until my next break comes. My name is Yon Yonson, I work in Wisconsin, I work in a lumbermill there…
But since I’m here, these are the biggest small-large-scale issues of the last couple weeks, and hopefully I can fit in just how they fit into the bigger picture.
Issue #1: You start with an instance of intrepidness, a casus belli, like the bona fide act of terror Hamas engaged in on October 7th in Gaza. As of this writing, 1,400 Israelis have died as a result. In return, the Israeli government and its U.S.-funded war machine have not only vowed brutal retaliation, but have since publicly effaced the humanity, neutrality and right to exist of every civilian living in the region. And forced 1.1 million south into unknown fates and insufficient housing and resources.
And all this is before the brutal retaliation has even begun.
Meaning: The world is run by its most deep-pocketed, best armed and most self-concerned and aggressive bullies, hawks and imperialists. Always has been. And, frighteningly, the same, smaller-scale lesson applies to many things outside of the average nation-state: Wall Street, American and other billion-dollar transnational corporations, religious institutions, private education, and, yes, even parts of the legislative branch of the American government.
Issue #2: The House Speakership, the third most powerful position in the U.S., is still sitting vacant. If elected, the current nominee Jim Jordan is going to do what Republicans strive to do in their communities, schools districts, political districts and in the Capitol: marginalize their enemies. Or bully them. Which, it’s been reported, has been happening to those who’ve already voted against him once: threatening emails and texts sent to cellphones have been reported, many by suspected Jordan allies. The Speaker’s job is to work to pass legislation (key word here: ‘work’) via a consensus majority of his fellow employees. Jim Jordan has never shown an ability, nor a desire, to do that. Furthermore, he’s only ever played hardball against Democrats in his political career, while concurrently never bothering to pass a single bill into law. You don’t bring an incompetent person like that in as your director. You fire a person like that as your director after a year of being a divisive, incompetent sh—head .
You would, that is, if your job wasn’t in American politics. But allow me to offer you the crystal ball here. You know, in case you lacked any foresight, and have virtually spent your entire life in a f—ing South American cave.
Meaning: Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention: part of the what hardline House Republicans were demanding in return for agreeing to avoid shutting down the government was a 33% cut in federal spending for things like rent subsidies, home heating subsidies and food benefits for the low-income and impoverished. While, of course, keeping the Pentagon budget completely intact.
And issue #3: The Biden administration has promised to invest $7 billion dollars in renewable energy infrastructure hubs across 16 states, providing as many as X number of new jobs to Americans by whatever future date they’ve set (which is always, like, ten years later than it needs to be). And this is on top of America’s recently passed Inflation Reduction Act, which guarantees climate X number more protections for the next X number of years. But wait. Wait. There’s this: U.S. oil production (and, thus, the emission of greenhouse gases) has been increasing steadily under that same administration. Three leases have recently been sold to drill for oil in the Gulf of Mexico, which legally need to be auctioned off over the next seven years before any offshore wind-harnessing facilities can be constructed. Because why? Because of that same Inflation Reduction Act. Which mainly has West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin’s teeth marks all over it.
Meaning: No matter how hard you may try, the status quo can’t be altered overnight. Or perhaps ever. Especially when you keep appeasing the folks who benefit the most from keeping the status in stasis.