In 1989 the student-led, rock n’ roll fueled Velvet Revolution opened the borders to international capitalism, nudie mags, hairsprayed mullets, and all the Nikes a kid could want. Today the Czechs enjoy the prosperity of a free market, which supports a socialist welfare state and boasts the lowest unemployment rate in the EU. In the near future, even the poorest schlub will be able to afford a rubber succubus to gently devour his gametes.
As every yin spills out from a yang, every era has a dark side. The pagan gods were hungry for human sacrifice. The Catholic God, perhaps unsatisfied by the crucifixion, maintained power through the systematic torture and mutilation of heretics and wild women. The Nazis killed over 150,000 Czechs, including the extermination of eighty thousand Jews. Soviet Communism turned the nation into a soulless grey slave camp crawling with secret police.
And today? The dark side of the free market is the overabundance of destructive choices.
Even Dogs Can Hear the Voice of God
This will make more sense if I tell you about the horn dogs of Istanbul. On our way to the Czech Republic, my lover and I stopped over in Turkey. We were just coming out of the Blue Mosque as the evening prayer began. The imam’s voice blared from megaphones rigged to each of the mosque’s six minarets.
A mass of seagulls swirled around the floodlit minarets, perhaps drawn by the insects, perhaps by something incorporeal. We walked out into the square and saw three stray dogs bound up to the gates, barking. To our amazement, they lifted their snouts and howled back at the imam’s amplified voice. The spiritual technology had evoked animal passions.
In the heart of Sultan Ahmet’s architectural complex, a single man lifted his tiny voice to the heavens. The loudspeakers gave him the resonance of a titan, momentarily fusing temple and priest through high voltage prayer. This electromotive force moved the canines so intensely that one of the dark males leaped onto a tawny bitch’s back, wrapped his forelimbs around her torso, and started pounding rhythmically like a pagan at a maypole ceremony. I was sure the Arabs would beat the beasts to death for their sacrilege, but they were mostly amused.
The next day we arrived in Prague. While Istanbul’s skyline is marked by minarets and glittering skyscrapers, Prague is dominated by steeples, industrial smokestacks, a commie mind control antenna, and two leaning glass towers that might tip over any moment. Gorgeous red clay tiles paint the city below, with legoland crayola condos metastasizing to fill in the gaps.
The Choice is Yours—That’s the Problem
The city’s rich cultural history is housed in dozens of museums around the city. Being incurable musers, my sweet little love and I wandered from one maze of exhibits to the next, occasionally taking breaks to eat goulash and drink frothy mugs of beer. Typically, if you’re going to enjoy a good vacation, you have to ignore all the money you’re spending. In Prague, half the fun is talking about at how cheap everything is! But it wasn’t always so.
One of the city’s most fascinating exhibits recalls the dark decades of the Cold War. The Museum of Communism is a chilling collection of Soviet propaganda, assembled to propagandize against Soviet totalitarianism. Appropriate to its project, the museum shares its building space with a smokey, faux-plush casino and a neon-lit McDonald’s. I’m lovin’ it.
As we perused the grim remnants of a centralized economy—sacralized statues of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin, conformist children’s books, unused gas masks and apocalyptic posters, old school surveillance equipment, rusty rigging gear and shitty candy bars—my mind turned to the swollen fruits of excess that have been ripening since the Velvet Revolution.
The free market holds out the deceptive allure of foolish choices. Beneath the glossy veneer are morbidly obese Big Mac-munchers rolling on Segues. Decrepit working class rejects pump their life savings into slot machines. Pilsner-saturated Euros barf all over the ancient cobblestones.
Thirty-five korunas for a pint—that’s less than a dollar fifty!
I contemplate Prague’s gradual accumulation of art and culture over the centuries, now colonized by the international tourist community. Swarms of self-pleasuring mosquitoes inject fiat currency into their hosts and suck the character out of city centers across the globe. The young and nimble vibe with sex drugs and nouveau. Their cheers go up to the heavens and taunt the dead in hell. Every beautiful vantage-point is hoovered up and spilled across social media like oil. The once elegant domiciles of aristocrats and their captive geniuses have become whorehouses for foreign desire.
My stomach rumbles in anticipation of the next bowl of goulash.
The future keeps coming. Face-to-face interactions peeled apart by digital devices. Warm familial networks stretched thin by jet airliners. Romance degenerates into porn-fueled screen swipes and the genital assembly line. Online suicide cults trade self-mutilation secrets and poisonous resentment and eagerly await the end of the world, as if that ever solved anything.
The dark side of choice is the failure to choose wisely.
Daily interjections: @EvoPsychosis