Pure signal.

to ascend you must die

Vampires are often pictured in fiction as being elite predators feeding on the unwashed masses. I wonder when that image became popular, because it is really so very much the other way around.
It is, and always has been, a very small percentage of the over-all population who are responsible for pushing the whole race forward — and we (the majority) don’t respect them. We laugh at them. We don’t have the patience to fiddle in our labs with a hundred kinds of filaments to find the perfect light-bulb, and we cast out people who do. They are geeks and weirdos — they are suspect. We feel bad when our sons and daughters date them, we sneer at their messy hair and unkempt cloths.In English classes, we teach from the dead poets, but likewise we flunk the living ones out of the classes. We give them bad grades so that they don’t get the good jobs. The hackers, the tinkerers, the visionary artists.
We love the guys who can work the system. We love people who polish their shoes and lie to us — but the people who actually give us their ideas and create the structure of the world we live in, those ones we are afraid of. We take their gifts — we ride in elevators, and drive cars, and use computers, and quote poetry — but the individuals themselves we cast out and kill.
We are the vampires, and we prey on the elite.
What did you ever give anyone for fire? Some time not so terribly long ago in the history of the world some brave humans brought home fire from a forest fire, or lightning strike, or lava flow. Up until that point everyone walked by it — but it occurred to someone that that might be a good thing to have — and before long, people knew how to make it. Encoded in the earliest Hindu scriptures is the metaphor of intercourse as the generator of fire — placing a stick in a groove, and rubbing until dry moss catches fire. It was originally a sacred task and surrounded by taboo — but it rapidly became the right of everyone.

You count on that knowledge every day, that knowledge that was given to you for free by your society. But you demand that people pay you for what you have to give. You get electricity, and the wheel, and the fundamental machines, and physics and music. You get language — but the idea of giving back — my god, I can almost hear you say “What has anyone ever done for me?”

What haven’t they?

We sit in our comfortable world — we want a life governed by easy to understand conventions. We kid ourselves that we want to “give back” — everyone gives lip service to how they want to “make a difference” — but we are counting every bean we put on the scale. We put our little copyright on every song, we build traps into our software, we litter the courts with patent lawsuits — because we just haven’t been given enough. “I need to get paid!” — what day of your life haven’t you been paid? We want more — and more and more and more.

How many small companies have been driven out of business by larger ones just for a percent of market share? It isn’t enough to win, we have to crush others — and we do it with the justification (I imagine that some costumed superhero grabs one of us out of a board meeting and is holding us in their hand ready to crush us and we bellow:

“I only wanted what was fair, I only wanted what was mine!”

As if we have ever given back for everything we’ve gotten scot-free in our lives.)

But I have a secret for you — a secret of why that tiny number who just give it away are willing to do it, despite how we all act. Why they are willing to dig and dig and give even when it gets thrown back in their faces. Even when their ideas are first rejected, and then stolen, when they are first ignored and then persecuted.

Creating de novo and opening a new vista of thought or expression for the Universe is absolutely the most fabulous experience that can be had by a human being. The process of spontaneously unfolding the unique miracle of who you are and what you are able to see beats any drug, any commodified high or distraction available in the world. INSIDE of you there is truth, there is a unique concoction thrown together by nature than can only think within certain bounds — those bounds have never existed before and will never exist again. Taken together they represent a single try by nature — like a bright yellow frog, or a beautiful blue butterfly. When you approach the problems that interest you, that unique essence inside you trembles and gives off light in a specific way that is ecstasy to experience (and actually, is beautiful to behold — if you have ever known someone who is committed to the realization of their own unique vision, and if you have seen them work, (or for that matter if you have seen Leonard Cohen sing) you can vouch for what I am saying.)

The light isn’t a visible light — this isn’t some new age moment — it is insight — it is a power of your mind that allows you to see where the rhymes are in a poem, that allows you to see where the lines are in a yet-to-be-drawn drawing. It illuminates an area somewhere between the world and your imagination, and what you see there you can then bring down into existence and give to the world.

And when the people who live so that such things can happen turn to us and ask us to change, when they ask us to stop being bloodsucking vampires, and instead to draw forth from our own hearts and give to the world like they do, it isn’t because they want to take anything away from us, but because they want to give us the ultimate value possible for a human being. It is because they want us to partake of the blessed freedom of creation.

And when they say it convincingly, we kill them.


February 4, 2008 - Posted by | Poems, Uncategorized


  1. That is one of the most profound things I have read in some time. Truly, the fact that we slay our heroes only makes them that much more heroic. Thank you for this.

    – Austin Szelkowski

    Comment by Austin Szelkowski | January 11, 2009 | Reply

  2. Thanks for the comment Austin! šŸ™‚

    Comment by bootslack | January 16, 2009 | Reply

  3. I have never heard it said more perfectly, I am going to show this to everyone I know. I only hope the ones who read this can understand the truth as we have. Maybe some day humans can stop with their selfish ways. (one can only hope.)

    Comment by Ryan M. | March 7, 2009 | Reply

    • Thanks Ryan — sorry it took me so long to respond!

      Comment by bootslack | March 21, 2009 | Reply

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