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The Portable Meridiem - No. 5 - November, 2022

Updated: Nov 22


 

Splatter Me This - Kyle Gunning

A Reflection of Media in Late Capitalism - Where We Stand.

Clarus Pond

About a month ago I was at an American historical site having a conversation with a man who had volunteered as an informational guide. It was clear he had an extensive background in American history, as we began to talk beyond the scope of the immediate historical affects before us and moved towards the conception of the American Revolution. We discussed the topical elements of the Revolution, early propaganda, major figures, the unification of the colonies, etc.; yet, it quickly became clear that we could not make conclusions about this historical period without giving credit to economic interest of Southern land owners as major components of Northern unification and action. Evidently, the American Revolution is a revolution which is individually motivated. The revolution would allow for the continuation of unsupervised, unregulated, expansion into Western territories and, therefore, great economic and political returns.

For the reader who has taken a college American history class, it is likely that this is not news to them. However, for those that haven’t, there is greater possibility that this side of history – this economic narrative – would otherwise be unknown. This information should likely provoke a thought process in which one would question their middle and high school curriculums and how such an important fact of history could be dismissed from the standard historical narrative (more on that later). The conversation was ended with the simple statement that if one wanted to understand historical motivations, they only have to look ‘where the money goes’.

From this conclusion, two processes for describing history can be seen: History as being driven by events, narrative, and, subsequently, propaganda (or, rather, being understood through the accumulation of propaganda); the second process being that History is understood as progressing in relation to economic and political interest (the two of which - economic and political - can be synonymous with one another) and, overall, results in history being an economic mechanism. (It is worth noting that there are other approaches to history, but they are not necessary for the purposes of this article.)

Looking at history from this specific perspective shows us that American history post-Revolution becomes increasingly more economic, in both its means and its outcomes – the evidence of which can be seen with the industrialization of the American life. A problem which arises out of this fact is the way in which reality is represented and presented to the common American, its validity, and so on. Relating back to middle and high school curriculums, it is clear that the presented narrative is at least not wholly in accordance with a historical reality. Upon greater investigation into the matter, one can see that it is more profitable to represent history in propagandized narratives, as it is more profitable for, not only American hegemony, but American government, in that it perpetuates the commonwealth’s disposition to support and contribute to a political system which generates mass amounts of capital.

Shifting the scope of our inquiry, we can turn towards the fall of investigative journalism. A 2019 Pew Research study found that “the level of original watchdog reporting has steadily declined, amounting this year to less than one of every 150 stories”; though, regardless, the article suggests that, in many ways, investigative journalism is still alive and well. More recently, Mackenzie Prince comments on the importance of investigative journalism, writing that, “from Watergate to the conditions of the Walter Reed Medical Center, investigative journalism has shaped our nation and politics into what it has become today”. Prince goes on to admit that “although investigative pieces can be found online, investigative journalism peaked within the same time frame as printed news”. Though Prince entertains multiple points of view as to why investigative journalism has seen a decline, they posit that a prominent reason would be the lack of resources which are offered in support of investigative journalism.

An even more problematic reality goes beyond the abundance of investigative journalism (as it certainly does still exist) and is found more in the production of the investigative process itself. The issue of interest in investigative journalism – in other words, the institutions which either fund or publish news media – does not allow for objective research, representation, or subject matter in media; evidently, a concern which brings us back to the quality of representation of American ‘reality’. An article written by Marc Poitras and Daniel Sutter points out the fact that “A potential consequence of advertiser influence is that commercial news media can fail to provide citizens with the news they need to make informed political decisions. . . The public’s information deficit can undermine the efficiency of democratic political institutions and impair the practice of self-government”. One could further this assertion and speculate that this goes beyond merely political dimensions, effectively impurifying various aspects of the American experience.

To entertain another digression, I went to a movie which came out recently entitled Don’t Worry Darling. Amongst many problematic qualities, the movie displayed a setting of purely vintage 60’s aesthetic, a notion which was only subtly justified by aspects of the plot. This was highly disappointing, as many movies which have been produced in the past 10 years have used this same trope, a setting which is heavily made up in vintage aesthetic, seemingly for no purpose, except that it fulfills popular aesthetic sentiment. Evidently, one can draw a conclusion from this experience, that important aspects in popular media are justified not by their greater artistic and thematic qualities, but rather by their viewers aesthetic gratification, which is not compounded with any purposeful justification (the root of our problem). Generally, aesthetic gratification would not be a problem if it were not so lacking in intention and artistry; if it were not an obvious ploy to draw a consumer in for the sole purpose of robbing them of their time and money.

What we can draw from these three representations of reality - the popular movie, investigative journalism, school curriculum – is that representation is not so much concerned with craft itself, but rather with the greater spectacle and, therefore, capital and how this reinforces hegemony. Again, we ask ourselves, how is reality represented? Apparently, if one takes a long and thoughtful look into any of the mediums they consume, representation has less to do with reality and more to do with economy, effectively rendering the idea of ‘perception of reality’ as a philosophical ideal which is now useless, impossible, and antiquated.

Now, I provide the question, Where do We stand? Ultimately, I cannot answer this myself (though it is fairly obvious my opinion on the matter). But the answer should be found in one’s own interactions with the world. How are we mindfully consuming? What does it mean for us to ethically engage? Let these thoughts infiltrate the subconscious, slowly making our lifestyles more complete and less grounded in the perspective of late-capitalism.


Works Cited:

Prince, Mackenzie. “Investigative Journalism's Decline.” The Inkblot, https://theinkblotnews.com/11867/opinion/investigative-journalisms-decline/#:~:text=As%20a%20result%20of%20the,%2C%20above%20all%2C%20investigative%20journalism.


“Investigative Journalism despite the Odds.” Pew Research Center's Journalism Project, Pew Research Center, 31 Dec. 2019, https://www.pewresearch.org/journalism/2002/11/01/investigative-journalism-despite-the-odds/.


Poitras, Marc, and Daniel Sutter. “Advertiser Pressure and Control of the News: The Decline of Muckraking Revisited.” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, vol. 72, no. 3, Dec. 2009, pp. 944–58. EBSCOhost, https://doi-org.uri.idm.oclc.org/10.1016/j.jebo.2009.07.015.


 

Take a Walk (it's good for the soul)

Lindsey


I’ve begun to feel

part of myself once more,

like a trout tossed back

into a raging winter river

I pay no mind to creeping shivers,

finding joyful rhythm

day-to-day

while wind wicks away

old sorrows from older stories,

barn swallows

will steal them for

their rapacious babies

and bits they drop

sink through thawing earth

to wrap around roots

of blooming blackthorns

and wild celandine.

 

Rapid River


My passion is as strong

as a roaring river

where boats bounce buoyantly

on the white-water rapids

racing down-stream


Ten deep breaths

in a picturesque scene

wild winds sweep grassy fields

and cardinals carry a honeyed hymn

stiff shoulders slump

so the boats may steady


But raise a voice

to a threatening height

smear my name with a laced up boot

the river rises

devouring the fields

reaching the tallest branch of the white pine tree

until all that's left

is the mountain's peak

I stand to speak

 

Without Sunlight


Staring from the end of your bed like a fang-toothed beast,

is every unfinished work left to rest without peace.

So swaddle yourself tight in apathy

and toss your head onto a pillow of complacency.

Cower and keel over if they find your mistakes -

Orchid children stay quiet.

Let your blooms decay.

 

Smells like Lemons

Sasha Avampato

The House was never big enough to hold her,

She could stretch her hand to the paneled roof.


And still be on the ground.


Only the lemon tree stays rooted,

Or is it Orange?


Little hands picking the ample fruit.


Her house is hours from the wetlands,

But Swamp is seeping under the door.


Unlike in Southern woods now there are apple trees,

or maybe pear, all too tall to reach.


Pine needles caught between toes.

Artwork - Grace Gundwyn

 

butterknife

Evangeline Welch

your words cut like a dagger

or the edge of a piece of paper,

i’ve lost myself in the folds of your ego


you’re like maple syrup

sweet at first

stuck to my fingers;

i desperately try to wash you away,

now you’re bitter.

i’ve never really liked syrup


it feels like a lifetime of asthma

haven’t you always consumed my lungs?

i thought you were oxygen

you are drowning me in tar in sand in ink

in tears

i never thought you would choke me

 

I am no longer a poet


words were always my forte

molding them to fit my needs

after you they hang there

limp

 

Ticking Clock

Sydney Burns

60 seconds

beats faster

but a minute never gets shorter.


something dependable

comes into doubt,

is what we depend upon the problem?


Time whooshes by

like an inexplicable moment

no one else witnessed.


Time yells at us,

exhausted with our ungratefulness.

it does one thing:

move .


all we do is judge it.


humans are parasites of Time.

too slow when we’re impatient,

too fast when we’re anxious.


but a minute still stays constant.

60 seconds, what’s relative about that?


 

Lady

As You Move In and Out of My Vision, One Thing Remains True - Kyle Gunning

bug

Kaitlan Machado

you see a ladybug.

you think

‘aw cute a wee

little ladybug!’

you think…

‘hey there’s good luck

in symmetry right?’


ladybugs are nice, until it flies away.

you think to yourself ‘why do the ladybugs

always pee on my hand

before they flutter away?’

Now your hand has a tiny circular

beetle secretion stain.


you think ‘great’

Even pretty things stink sometimes.


wee little ladybug,

where is my luck now?



 

Turnaround

Kyle Gunning

I.


The wheel is blind.

It turns by the strike of water,

This oil of you and I,

Making our hearts beat.


II.


When thunder struck, it was mistaken as a sign,

Bringing us together in the warm, dry place;

A mistake of sound, so similar to the beat of

A heart, rumbling across the country side,

When thunder struck.


Thunder, striking its hollow bass,

And a heat like wine, around the rolling

eyes. An overtone

Is laughter. Let it fill the air for now, let it soothe

Before the slaughter.


(The wheel is blind.)


These symbols of time degenerate,

Falling as though they are a dust so fine

As water through the hands – or wine,

When it is finally realized

That the wheel hasn’t been turning.


The wind cries:

“Someone is working without the rain”.

A murmur is heard: “Heat Lightening!”,

Someone exclaims. The far off and distant

Sign of a thunderstorm, completely dry.


We look to the windows, we look to find red

Flashes, a few miles away,

A romantic portrait of the West

Telling the fateful tale of sunset.


When thunder struck, it was not a sign,

No, there was no rain that slapped the paddles running.

Yes, there was no rain, all this time, outside.


Beyond the trees a chorus sings,

Worshipping something or other,

Some function of different kind,

Which, from present eye, cannot be seen,

Taunting, while the wheel stands still with time,

The smell of sawdust tapering off.


Good god, please stop,

Please put a stop to this,

Oh! To run off only false starts!


(The wheel is blind.)

 

Watering Hole


Up high the damage is clear;

One can see the mountainous terrain

That has been ruined by a fatal flaw,

Natural and raw: that the only protection here

Is the ground; one can see the pain.


Make no mistake, this is a battlefield,

Where craters are only made deeper

To fill up with rainwater

Creating small pools, invisible

To those overhead,


Except the lone bird, setting out on the grey sky,

It turns, catching a glint in its eye, and takes a dive

Down, down to the crusted crater’s edge,

Walking along the banks, scratched like mars,

Blistered and barbed - burned, by scorching stars

Unannounced in the dead of night.


It stops, ruffles it feathers, ready to stay,

Thirsty from long days of flying,

Flying low, few and far between,

As, barren and uncertain, is the earth

Beneath.


Thirsty, indeed, its beak dips quickly down,

For a peck of freshwater, pooled on the ground;

Only a peck is enough for the bird to be sure,

To dance in the dirt, and chirp, giddy

For more, as, these tears from above

Fill the bird up.


It takes, it takes, say again! It takes

From the heart, rearranging its parts around and around,

In disregard of whether the taking is to suffer

Or become

Taken in


Now, filled inside, the bird is quiet;

It stands, apparently, just to stay.

Thinking of coming back

Tomorrow, so that the pool won’t evaporate

But become repurposed, a gentle process,

cleansing the bird and the eye,

Both.


Please, let us say,

Maybe not tomorrow,

But, for now, today,

We have not lost, just yet.

 

The Fire Breathing Dragon


The fire breathing dragon

Was mostly likely contrived

When Man saw pig roasting

On a spit. “Hey, don’t that

Look like Fire Breathin Dragon”.

Or something like that

Is how the legend goes.

Well tonight I see fire

Coming out of the corners

Of my apartment and I’m

Not sure whether it means

That I’m inspired or not.

 

Birds, Just Out My Window


When she explained that Stasis

Was in fact a tension – lighting a candle

In the darkening evening – the light crossed,

Longingly, toward the fading smoke trails above the wick.


That night she sat on the sill, crying,

Casting faraway visions onto the puddles

Of setting sun around the room,

Making them shimmer and shake.


When the tears became like rain,

Musical in nature, they sang;

They bellowed, accompanied by timpani,

Thud and thud again, reflecting

The pang of anger in the tune:


The last love I have is a failing flame

Aboard a wet wick

And I’m not ready to give in

Just yet.


I.


Through quick glances it was understood

That appearances were not to be made in dreams anymore,

As they would pour too much, much too much, energy

Out, until the morning became sour.


Again, that night, it rained

And the little dog that barks at the door,

Tired out, curled up tightly

On the spine of the knotted bedsheets,

There, for a second, and then gone,

As if what lay beyond was never again

Or nothing at all.


When the birds answered the morning call,

All that could be heard, as far as one could tell,

Was the Chickadee bird, saying its name,

Over and over, as if it might just lose it

To the new, blank morning air around.


II.

In these rainy weeks of spring

The following nights remained the same.

As dusk would strike along the clock

The dark released the deepening stare,

Unwanted and awaited both.


Why avoid a mind untamed?

What is wild must be normal and true,

Yet it only brings us shame and doubt.

Is there something there that cannot be named?

The guilt that strikes this lonely mock

Is lit by the native tongue of despair:


A single night so clear in the lonely eye,

When all the papers, months of work,

Flew everywhere across the hardwood,

Scrambling around the floor in a fit, a crazed frenzy,

To find the narrative,

Never to be made whole again.


Eventually, tired out and afraid,

Sleep came amidst the waves of birdcalls

In the morning rain.


III.


A truth, unfamiliar at the time,

Was the Chickadees call,

Its reasoning, its use;

It’s pang that flies skyward

Amidst the heavy, heavy

Coats of rain - you know the call:

It is its name; a marker, not of identity,

Words, or shame, but of greater reasoning,

Driven and driving as if for fear of Nothing

At All or the terror of Never Again;

Its call is a marker of territory,

Or betrayal (one may say),

“Get off! Keep away!”,

Are the translations of the Chickadee’s name;

Bound, knotted, and tied once more,

Is the prophesy of such designation:

A call, not to enlighten or raise,

Or to bounce in the happiness of summer days,

But a cry, alas, of sheets of rain,

A cry of deep and wounding pain

Forever and ever, and ever again.


Self Portrait at 19 - Sasha Avampato

Self Portrait at 19 - Hannah Fariah-Meade

 

Gondolas

Andre Lessin

Translucid waters making crystal sounds at every wave;

In single oblong swaths of bark from million year old trees,

In Iridescent petals from rose colored poppies

Watered with nectar in a jeweled hothouse,

The ferrymen indulge at every move ;

Clasping an oar with limbs of wind

They dig the sweet waters.

To passengers they serve a wine drawn

From Dawn’s golden clouds.

It incubates the mind with a wholesome dream

To embrace the sun.

Far below, lies

The underwater tomb of a forgotten god ;

His organs glow and sing in opalescent bones

Chiming with colors deeper than silence.

Time is the womb of a spinster

Looking at shapes wane into other shapes

Until someone gets too weary

To keep moving.

 

The Repented Pilgrim


I have roamed the world in unstable forms

And chased the final sight ;

I have returned from it with nothing,

The blessed poverty at the heart of all movement,

So deep inside my brain

That all my will dissolves

Into soft actions

Beyond desire,

Beyond hope.

I eat two meals a day

To feed my empty heart,

And when my face feels

The breath of the sun,

Calm and wide,

I push a boat onto the lake

And stroke my sad strings

Crying out melting tunes,

Laying riddles upon the world

For the silence to answer.


 

Milton at Sundown - Kyle Gunning

Portable Meridiem

2 Oct. 2022




 

Contact us at: theportablemeridiem@gmail.com







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