Mechanisms of Desire by Rob Harle
Publishers: Spinning Spider Publications
PO Box 20182, Nimbin 2480, Australia
Language: English, Pages 82
ISBN: 978 –0–646–57481-3
Review by P C K Prem
Rob Harle, an Austrian poet, artist and reviewer underlines anguish, traumatic pleasures of contemporary life born of longing and faith. Man’s destiny is an expansion of technology, its convolution and cerebral outlook, and mark of archaeology as an advent of digital techniques resolve man’s growth. “Mechanisms of Desire” is philosophic in essence. Highly mechanized world does not instil hopes, for a programmed structure, and its movement in absolute stillness turns dreary. In nerve shattering routine, an individual barely feels relaxed. Upsets and tediousness, weariness and consequent blackout of thoughts assume deadly proportion disallowing time for joy.
An instinctive wish for joy abundant in man is alive but worldly encrustations hardly permit man to run wild, for a life of ennui in contemporary psychic scenario censures and disturbs. To ‘satisfy my primal desire for adventure / for life remains alive,’ for it signals extreme pressure to run away from the current boredom and go wild as words like ‘a shiny, red apple’ create stunning and graphic sensuous images in “Primal Desire.” Harle reminds man of the original sin –Adam and Eve.
A hunt in spiritual marketplace tortures since modern inner malady inflicts wounds invisible in “The Long Search”. A man goes back to gods, deities and gurus as if it were a forced flight from doomed living to clandestine and makeshift asylums but phony gurus assault as ‘the exponential abstractionists’ threaten.
preaching with uncontrollable passion
gathering blind sheep around him
flogging them with raging lies
as they sat in the warm dust,
riddled with fear.
In vacillating faith, life appears a journey in a long dark tunnel, and search for survival and revelation distresses. Futility and immorality injure psyche of a modern man as a world of Cyborg machine, technology overwhelm, and if a man operates in a certain region, it is a dead mechanism, for ‘white laboratories’ and ‘contemplation’ speak enough.
Hideous manifestations emerge
oozing from milky white laboratories,
a new concept for contemplation,
files in the cold steel fractured face of humanity.
Man understands innovative dimensions of morality the modern lords of society profess. Material growth and glossy lifestyles bring no joy as glitzy attributes characterize life and still man lives fetidly and refuses to look beyond fabricated glare. A saga of repulsive living in the contemporary scenario –
creates individuals by design
renewed with each flip over. (SuperGloss)
Unethical living disheartens and therefore, a poetic frustration and philosophic anguish fails to bring innovation as ‘Maggot-ridden fat of the long-dead body of god /oozed over me, stinking of stupidity.’ Poet regrets pretence and priestly demeanour of people in authority and thus, crucifies humanity.
The priests sodomize their young charges
forcing fear into their lives,
violating them again and again
until fear is all that’s left in once trusting hearts.
Nevertheless, life moves on with plenty of sodomy and solemnizing.
Here, ‘the priest’ is a metaphor for the elite, the sophisticated, the educated and the ruler of contemporary life, for each one enjoys infringement of private areas of a person and so sex and sleaze continue to guide the arbiters of society -a massive system. ‘The Solar Oracle’ is a gloomy scenario modern gadgets create. Certain outrageous lines stun as lethal metaphors shatter faith.
global voyeurism opens windows
change gender, trans-gender
cut – filter – distort – recompose
as virtual orgasm penetrates the digital twilight.
An apparently entertaining life in reality suffocates and destroys with classic impurity of soul and body. ‘The Dark Night of the Troll’ tells of perfunctory rascality, for ‘Hiding in seedy back-street alleys / intractable vagrants’ makes life of dwellers miserable and excruciating.
We must have happy subservient trolls
we must help these tormented wretches,
help them emerge from their Dark Night.
‘AI and Joan’ forlornly derides acumen of a man as ‘Homo Electronicus’ reorganize contemporary life otherwise ‘… the impression of an age’ would emphasize continual ‘changing, turning, calculating’ for simulated astuteness works wonders while life in a society remains a crushing burden and nobody anticipates a ethical formation sans human beings. Defeat, collapse and delusion haunt modern transcript of man and creates a tedium and archetypal dullness. In “Time To Leave” lethal thoughts in devastating words restructure the entire edifice of thought sequence and so a hypocritical approach to life of ennui lengthens out infinitely while sanity and wisdom become irrelevant driving man to suicidal precipice. The thoughts that clones masturbate without ever ‘achieving orgasm’ speak of incapacity ‘in social intercourse,’ despite perception of ‘cultural theory.’ Insensitivity of man remains a frightening characteristic and he is least worried to guard man from imminent disintegration but relishes in killing finer instincts.
…revealing the wisdom inherent before the staining
before the dangerous assault of mind
before the destruction of creativity.
In a disastrous cycle, fraudulence ridicules linguistic niceties a modern man often enjoys, who loves to live in vague connectivity and links, and howls about the framing of a new charter and guidelines but is conscious of annihilation. Ultimately, nature as physician tells man to search meaning even in social despair and distortion as sickening spread of supermarkets squeezes human warmth in a grisly hurry but man wishes living in neurotic lifestyle and illusion and therefore, the search for green pasture proves futile. A contemporary man is stuck up in muck of frightening apathy and sham. In utter anarchy, inertia and perceptible stupor life is vile -
…drugged, strapped down, electrocuted
incessant blurred nightmare.
today i realised i was still alive. (“Diary Entry”)
Life appears mordant, diseased and onerous agony of hope amidst moral mayhem but man envisages a better life. Art, dance, music, painting and sculpture demonstrate phony incline to social realities, and man in ignorance, struggles to forget anguish of living while avoiding straight encounter with finesse of arty aesthetics. Man lives in a highly mechanized and computerised world and feels proud but inwardly a sad man, he does not know about tomorrow and so lives in tragedy. “The Transfiguration Of Calliope” paints a dismal picture of life present and future and then, man runs back to past to re-energize present perhaps. Realities of supermarket in “Paracetamol” prove nauseating, leading to a shocking finale when a man moves ‘to reach for the toilet paper/ and Paracetamol.’ No therapy or reprieve cleans an indistinct life in a mechanized version.
A widely travelled artist/poet, Harle encounters scenes of mechanical comforts at Airports and aircrafts and finds people of arrogance and plastic smiles throwing bright glances with a frustrating towing. Ennui in expertise documents modern culture, and society cherishes chilling experiences. A culture of fast food and artificial smiles chases in “Fat Duck Road” signals no acquittal since synthetic outlook determines life sans warmth.
“A New Hymn” and “Kafka’s Prophecy” speak of modern intensity of agony, affluence, knowledge and misfortunes. A man travels from one hugely dark area of knowledge and physical joy to death, light and joy leading to melancholy and desolation notwithstanding positive results of demoniac machines, for he rejoices in synthetic desires of material without faith. “Twitter –Twatter,” strengthens callousness in reiterating the terrible influence of contemporary mindset, technological progress and cold-hearted –
Surveillance, paranoia, cameras, Google Earth
spy force in disguise.
data base explosion, exploitation
stop, buy, consume, be silent
Supermarkets talk of challenging phenomenon of selling goods irrespective of the consequences and therefore, a man celebrates repulsive flaunting of retail mechanism signifying a terrific onslaught of science and technology.
I am so happy to be a marketing pawn,
even though the radical deconstruction of capitalism is nigh. (“Retail Therapy”)
Age of computers, electronic gadgets and science opens new vistas, and stir human beings to amass more amidst overwhelming inventions in science. Peace and exclusive space for lonely moments prove a mirage underlining man’s aspirations and ensuing disgust.
the dark black-hole of our bio-quantum computer
is a mysterious worm-hole for neuroscientists
which reveals emptiness.
Squaring the measure of emptiness…
(“Sound and Fury”)
A man discreetly enhances the enormity of calamity but fails to visualize. A man keeps hopes and aspirations integral, lies embedded in time wishing to reconstruct dissolution as others make a choice and so, “Being” generates an artificial imprint. “Unfolding” is emblematic of detachment, a revelation of eternity if one comprehends the inscrutable scheme of nature, seasonal changes and perfection in cyclic movement, irrespective of hazards. If “The Old Man and The Vineyard” speaks of surface shine, a subtle requiem also tortures, for past gives relief from a harrowing present.
When a man forgets past, he is condemned, for ‘ignorance of the past is also a major cause of the troublesome human condition’ observe Leslie Stevenson and David Haberman in Ten Theories of Human Nature (Oxford University Press, 2004). One recalls words of Confucius when he says that ‘it is unfamiliarity with the Way of the sages.’ Going back is a faint possibility. “Rainforest Diary” reinforces a link between nature and man as living appears appalling. Tweeting and fluttering of birds no longer delight a man. Guarding environment from pollution brings no definite transformation, ‘investments to neutralise smears of smog /and the hardness of concrete life, /images for vicarious indulgence.’
Philosophic and yet realistic without tantrums of intellectual strings, in “White Birds,” the movement of birds in search of safe location with the change in season alerts and warns man as nature performs well in the cosmic plan of creation.
Irony discomfits in “Becoming,” a philosophic journey to the mystery and ‘absurdity of time’ and life and then, a ‘moving downward into a rainbow vortex/ explodes into pure light/and reaches the end of eternity.’ Harle scrutinizes thoughts from various angles that elude definiteness and justify analogous thoughts in lyrics. Philosophic thought in “Growing Old (Time)” carries rational strain, and symbolically when the river meets the sea, egos die out. If life is in motions, it has purpose, as stagnation is death and here, the poet reminds of Indian philosopher Dr S. Radhakrishnan.
Old human vessels sail slowly,
egos are the only terminal events in history
and dissolve when the river becomes the sea.
Happy future appears phony and chases man even as he listens to raucous cheers in a computerized life. The word ‘troll’ in many lyrics looks as if stacking bare necessities for transitory pleasures driving life like a trolley to gloom, cynicism and negativity as it throws side glances with a counterfeit smile. Modern centres of joys and pleasure are in fact, “Places of Hell” one realizes. “Bags checked on Exit!” & “Security cameras in Operation!” express doubts and suspicions as market-fluctuations determine awareness. Many lyrics overtly reveal class struggle, a subtle transition from feudalistic thought pattern to industrial misery and capitalistic trends. Ultra-sophisticated markets and commercial swiftness scarcely permit man to live in grace.
I ponder the complexity of the future of evil,
having no part in its creation
with nerve cells of revelation.
Now disturbed, uncertain and ostensibly confident intellect governs, directs, and makes life miserable amidst happiness. In “Transition”, machines determine dirty, mucky and gloomy flow of life as baptising with doable piety continues.
the shaman vanishes
into the musty dirt
of the lamp-black tunnel,
in the collective post human transition.
In modern mechanism of restraint and control, freedom and liberty of man suffocates and virtually ends up in shackles of mortifying purported rulers of destiny of humankind. A rebellious spirit surfaces and it refuses to obey any command of social, political, religious or philosophical authority, for it distrusts and rejects man’s independent identity. Man-dictated dictums or diktats with strings of self-interests and perpetuation are unacceptable to a reasonable man.
My right to life and love and death,
is carved in burning stone,
religious mythological falsity is no judge,
yet daily the puny God impostors
bring down their judgements,
acting as supreme false magistrates (“The Bell Tolls”)
Harle highlights a common human failing. A man knows he destroys nature, brings pollution, acts dishonestly, relishes corrupt practices, loves modern gadgets and behaves disingenuously but still talks against such human shortcomings. An offensive and unenviable situation it is and Peter Stoterdijk, a German philosopher terms it as ‘cynical reason’ or what he calls ‘enlightened false consciousness.’ Perhaps, a modern man is victim of this irreversible location and even if a man is positive, he fails.
He is aware of social and political realities and believes that art has a purpose in life. Enquiries into fresh areas of ethics and environment throw light on modern life. Impact of hypocritical lifestyle creates spectral existential situations. Philosophical backdrop and construction exhibit unease of post modernistic cultural and literary trends. Rob appears skeptical but is conscious of the social realities and truths where quixotic thoughts prove futile. He is deeply experiential, and pragmatic aspects with a leaning towards structuring temperament, varied intellectual variations, and experiences with a tendency to contextualize originate. Evolution of life is multifaceted and therefore, interlinking of desires automatically constructs a mystifying framework where the formation confuses, for material concerns over weigh human element
An author of more than forty books in English and Hindi, P C K Prem (p c katoch) post-graduated in English literature from Punjab University, Chandigarh in 1970, taught in different colleges before shifting to civil services and then served as a Member, Himachal Public Service Commission. With three books on criticism in English, seven novels and two collections of short fiction, he has brought out nine volumes of poetry. Katoch Prem (a winner of several awards) is a poet, novelist, short storywriter and critic in English from Himachal, India