Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Jon Davis: Preliminary Report from the Committee on Appropriate Postures for the Suffering

(via Kristopher Reisz)

Preliminary Report from the Committee on Appropriate Postures for the Suffering

by Jon Davis

We who wear clean socks and shoes are tired

of your barefoot complaining, your dusty footprints

on our just-cleaned rugs. Tired, too of your endless ploys—

the feigned amputations, the imaginary children

you huddle with outside the malls, your rags and bottles,

the inconvenient positions you assume. Though we remain

impressed by your emaciation and your hunger and,

frankly, find you photogenic and think your images

both alarming and aesthetically pleasing, to do anything

more than sigh will require a complex process

of application and review, a process that is currently

in the development stage. Meanwhile, may we suggest

you moderate your public suffering at least

until the Committee on Appropriate Postures for the Suffering

is able to produce guidelines. Do not be alarmed.

The committee has asked me to assure you

that they are sensitive both to the aesthetic qualities

of your suffering—the blank stares, the neotonous beauty

as the flesh recedes and the eyes seem to grow larger,

the haloes of flies—and to the physical limitations

of human endurance and the positioning of limbs.

They will, I am certain, ask that you not lift

your naked children like offerings to the gods.

On this topic, discussion has centered around the unfair

advantage such ploys give the parents of such children.

The childless, whether by choice or fate, are left

to wither silently in the doorways while those with children

proffer and gesticulate in the avenues unabated.

This offends our cherished sense of fairness,

the democratic impulse that informs and energizes

our discussions. Therefore, we ask for restraint,

and where restraint is lacking, we will legislate.

Please be forewarned. In addition, the committee

will recommend that the shouting of slogans,

whether directed at governments or deities, be kept

to a minimum. Not only is such shouting displeasing

aesthetically, but it suggests there is something

to be done. Believe me, no one is more acutely aware

of your condition than we who must ignore it everyday
on our way to the capitol. In this matter, we ask only

that you become more aware of your fellow citizens,

who must juggle iPods, blackberries, briefcases

and cell phones, lattes. Who must march steadily

or be trampled by the similarly burdened citizens

immediately behind them. Your shouting and pointing

does not serve you well. Those of us employed

by the agency are sworn to oversee you. If we seem,

as you suggest, to have overlooked you instead,

that is an oversight and will be addressed, I am certain,

in our annual review. Please be aware: To eliminate

your poverty, your hunger, your aesthetically

pleasing, yet disturbing, presence in our doorways,

above our heating grates, in our subway tunnels

and under our freeways would mean the elimination

of the agency itself and quite possibly a decline

in tourism. Those of us employed by the agency

have neither the stamina, persistence, nor the luminous

skin tones that you present to the viewing public.

Finally, to those who would recommend programs,

who would call for funding and action,

I must remind you that we have been charged not

with eliminating your suffering but with managing it.

No comments: