'The National Conversation' by Victor Billot
The National Conversation
Incurious diodes illuminate the profit centres of South Capricornia,
autodidact androids cut hot currency hedges on a midsummer day.
Autochthonous technopreneurs monetize ethnic purity as a niche mode,
and tropicana theme nanobars offer three for one polar plunge deals
in a hyperborean happy hour in the Arctic of Capricorn.
Post abundance ice cube makers replicated from 4D printers
refill Greenland’s glacial sheet with frozen yoghurt megablocks,
all captured by crowd sourced rubberneckers wielding giant phablets.
Dilated pupils flicker over paywalled premium content,
bamboozled by incompatible delivery platforms.
In the terminal zone of the post Fordist nine volume endnote to history,
secure protocols are deconstructed by white hat wizards.
A moving dot on an exponential curve,
tracking in the towering shadow of Moore’s Law.
A semiotic artefact in a giant rabbit onesie in aisle seven, contemplating the heat death of the universe.
In the waiting room of the Dark Enlightenment, uploaded libertarians automate the expropriated.
Give us this day the milk solid forecast.
Give us this day the hoochy coochy footsie tango
of the Reserve Bank governor semaphoring in Jivvanese
as the Greater Aucklandia conurbation goes critical
in a real time South Sea bubble of ghost suburbs
suspended in the heavenly fragrance of suboceanic gas hydrates.
Where the flower of youth get ubermunted,
highly compressed and resampled in a neoliberal beatbox,
strangers in a strange land, a toxified noosphere
of micromarketing and social media quantum entanglement.
In Bachelor EnZed, a cashed up sociopath
learns how to authentically emote to dead eyed chickie babes
judged by a live stream of spontaneous scripted reactions
from the data slums of provincial Gigatowns.
Followed by the hive mind of the precariat,
taking a break on the slippery rungs of the property ladder to heaven,
clad in Dirty Dog shades and toting prepaid unlimited texts,
one week away from the event horizon of financial singularity.
The leadership contest is settled by a virtual reality vox pop
from an all night pyjama party hosted by delirious scream bots.
The Mate in Chief shares a beersie at a tradie’s barbie
and tells the one about how each time he pulls a ponytail
he rushes up seven thousand points on iPredict
assuring his thousand year reign over Pig Island.
Great aunts with nothing to hide except pikelet recipes
demand round the clock surveillance to confirm their innocence.
A management intern commits to a forty year famine
to crowdfund a deposit on a Westie doer upper
and eats himself feet first to prove flexibility is the key
to get your foot in the door in a tanking futures market.
The proles are old hat, togged out in elastic waist pants,
trading in union cards for a Saturday Night Megaball ticket.
Pro splicers unzip base pairs on cheap genes
and offer cows with square udders for auction on Trade Me.
From Lenin’s tomb to Rob’s Mob, the Cold War is deprecated code
as the Warehouse imports Victor Charlie tee shirts by the bin.
In the deserted hills of Men Alone, the magpies still cry
quardle oodle ardle wardle from cellphone towers.
A five lane racetrack is drilled out from the underside
of Mount Aspiring’s Mr. Whippy cone.
Identity politics end in a spaghetti junction of strange loops
where post-zombie apocalypse privilege calling competitions
stampede symbol manipulators into a logic gate concealed
in an asymmetrical hierarchy of intersectional oppressions.
A waterspout off Punakaiki is a sign of the times,
while a neon Taniwha emerges blinking from under
a Road to Nowhere of Significance.
The flag debate is splattered liberally with native batshit
and the National Conversation is a long shriek
filtered through a quadrophonic white noise generator.
But even in the jaws of this disconsolate season,
the spectral apparition of our better selves conjures a memory
of driving through the afternoon in a bubble of now
with the closeness of the loved around us,
passing fruitstalls in thunderstorms on the inland straight,
the bitumen to the hills smokey as an evening bay,
our presence suspended in time’s shimmer,
dispersed over the GPS co-ordinates of the human heart.
'The National Conversation' first appeared in Machine Language (2015), and is 'a vision of a mirage of a figment of a dream.' It’s my reflection on the world today where satire is being outmoded by reality, so any satire has to go next level to make a dent in the data sludge that pours out of our mobile devices. The idea of what is speculative is also open to speculation, as the boundaries of reality are assaulted by alternative facts, post truths, and the counter intuitive conundrums of quantum physics.
This poem reflects the collapse of space and time for humanity, as we now co-exist in the future, past and present, where the neoliberal ideal of a seamless global post-history is however derailed by the resurgence of feudal theologies and reactionary politics. Describing the rise of industrial capitalism in prophetic language, Marx saw capital as coming into the world “dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.” The contradiction between the surface and the inner workings of our social and economic systems is still relevant.
I have a fascination with the growing complexity of human civilization. I am interested in nanotech and AI, and how these post human technologies are filtering into everyday life, while at the same time we are still living inside our heads with dated nation state mythologies. I intend my language to reflect this – 'highly compressed and resampled in a neoliberal beatbox' – with rich and vivid images, mashing up the rhythmic pulse of hip hop, the glutinous blandishments of lifestyle media, and the hierophantic dialect of the financial elite. But note the final lines refer to real memory and real life, suggesting an alternative to the frenzy of contemporary existence, even if just a glimpse in the rear view mirror of our lives.
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