Friday, October 28, 2005

In Remembrance (aka "Camilo's Airplane")

October 28, 2005

Who killed the man who, in the lives of others like him, lives on in the people? The enemy killed him, killed him because they wanted him dead…

“Camilo” by Ernesto Guevara

John Brown, him dead and gone.
Jah know that him history still live on
As him dead more John Brown born…

“Terrorists in the City” by Eeka-Mouse

Perhaps the most absurd manifestation of the market economy is the industry of Death. I am not talking about the funeral business, but the nostalgia marketing of dead celebrity. The more tragic and unexpected the death, the more meteoric the career of the dead, the more profitable is the selling of the legendary demise. All but the bones of the deceased are packaged and sold. In this country we watch this curious spectacle from within the framework of the marketing system, where everything has a price tag of value. Here, our numbed minds are incapable of fully seeing the macabre aspect of marketing based on the level of morbid, sensational, prurient interest in the dead.

In other societies this interest can manifest itself somewhat differently. The dead become iconic, martyrs, symbols of virtue that are not mourned, but celebrated. Here, the industry is non-profit, but the dead are still sold. The selling is that of the legacy of the dead as a moral lesson. The weaknesses, the human frailty, the very humanity is replaced by the image of resolute zeal and uncompromising character. No more realistic than the glamorized selling of a dead icon for profit, though one hopes that the sentiment is at least more authentic and heartfelt.

But what is the fascination with the storied cliché of the sudden demise of someone in the prime of life? Actor, athlete, musician, rebel, seditionary, become the eternal…celebrity. The fascination is that of what might have been. And the imagined course is always a powerful antidote to the omnipresent failings of those contemporaries that have survived and turned out very mortal, or even banal, compromised, or just plain uninteresting. Longevity and relevance seem to have a natural inverse relationship, particularly in a consumer driven society. But in the perfect society there is no need for heroes, icons, or martyrs. Those things are to motivate the masses to strive for selfless effort, to work for the common good of all. This effort would already be innate. As long as the struggle to achieve this perfect society is ongoing, the search for Camilo’s airplane will not end. We who struggle to see that day arrive, say to Camilo:

You are a spirit, not a ghost.

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