The Unknown Quantity

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Reality is an unknown quantity
A wavering projection
Of a looping reel
In some seedy cinema
Down a dead end alley
In a bricked up capital city
Of a condemned world.

The audience is distracted,
Bored and discontent
After all these are the latter days
Of the Fourth Decadency
They have seen it all before
This show has been on the road
For an aeon and ten millennia
Everyone is so quick
To criticize and find fault
Sure it is poorly edited
With lacklustre performances
Where once it cast a
Glittering, hypnotic spell
The glamour has faded, the magic is lost
And now it is merely repetitious,
A repeat of a programme
That nobody can remember why
They watched in the first place.

Just try to get your money back though;
The cash office has shut up shop
And the only staff to be found
Is the hazy projectionist;
Roused from his dreaming stupor
He stammers that he understands
Our disaffection but all complaints
Must be directed to the management
Who are, however, unfortunately,
Uncontactable at the present time.

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69 thoughts on “The Unknown Quantity

  1. An appropriate metaphor for the state of the world. The endless loop of film reel – here we go again. What is the Fourth Decadency? Is that a thing? The times we’re living in? I like their bit about the hazy projectionist being the only one left to complain to.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It is a good poem! No slipping of the standards in Cakeland. Very relevant. Very cynical (appropriately) and aside from the Fourth Decadency bit, less obscure than usual. Poetry for the people! Now I’ve probably ruined it, haven’t I?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Not at all, I never aim to be obscure (well maybe a little sometimes). The Fourth Decadency is a mixture of the Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland and we are in the Fourth era of Decadency by my reckoning. The process is speeding up, we should be careful.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Remind me to tell you sometime about my first trip to Ireland and the young college students I argued with over the Bible of all things… Rainy weather, Gaelic Football, and way too many Smithwick’s. But yes, Protestant Ascendancy… tell me about the other three ages of decadence. I know the late 1700’s, what else? The 1920’s – the jazz age?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. God save the Queen, I mean it Man!
    That is how God will save us all from ourselves ultimately. By taking her from us to his bosom. Therefore further dividing us between those who miss her and those who try to change things because she’s gone.
    This is my prediction for 2017. The ultimate celebrity death and our response to it. What/who can/will we replace her with?

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  3. Excellent, Mr. Cake. A superb metaphor in a wonderfully crafted poem. I meant to tell you, I had a dream within a dream the other day. Very strange. I thought of you when I realized.

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      1. Dreams are strange. This one started fun but then got weird. And I can’t remember ever waking in a dream so it really might be down to you. ๐Ÿค”

        Liked by 1 person

  4. It really is a good poem. I, as well, liked the titbit about the hazy projectionist. Vast depth. Open for metaphorical interpretation. I think I’ll borrow it and use it in my newest novel. (Kidding) – (Maybe)
    I liked your post.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Also there is the nagging feeling that humanity cannot bear too much civilisation. At a certain point we aim for simplicity and the compromises of civilisation seem like a betrayal of our true nature. Mind you that it just a thought.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well, you know, that is a very interesting thought! It may be true! Although I would say that it is not civilization in general that humanity cannot bear. It is the particular type of civilization that develops over time, that may be serving the needs of some individuals, but not all. The ones not served will feel the need to overthrow that civilization. I agree the many compromises are a betrayal.

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      3. All civilisations end up with social stratification, I don’t think it can be avoided. The politics of whatever stripe fob everyone off with bread and circus, or phoney nationalism or downright tyranny. Yet Rome collapsed because it was everything (at the time) there was no escape, beyond Rome was… barbarism, even the barbarians wanted to become Roman and when they did, well the only way to escape Rome was to destroy Rome. Just my thoughts. Eve bite into the apple because she was bored. Neither underestimate the power of boredom to change the world.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Hmmm very interesting… boredom, dissatisfaction, it will lead to destruction and rebuilding. The allegory of Eve is one we cannot escape. And yet she ate from the tree of knowledge. That was (arguably) a good thing. (Because at times ignorance is actually bliss too.) You ever read my take on Eve? I’ll find a link for you ๐Ÿ™‚

        Funny about the barbarians too. That pattern repeats itself in all walks of society!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Well a lot of the Germanic tribes, the visigoths, the alemanni, the franks soon become Romanised, but Attila was having none of it. I would love to read your take on Eve, she was a Gnostic hero by the way, by biting the apple she started the process of freeing. Is from the illusory world created by The Demiurge.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I really didn’t mean this to have a political edge, the Fourth Decadency was really a throw away idea but it seems to have brought varying responses. I thought it was my usual mystic cake routine, you know funny business as usual, but apparently not so. I bow to my readers interpretations, but like you once said the reader is King.

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      1. If I worry about future regrets I will never type a word again Roger. As a Surrealist I have to surrender that calculating logical side and present whatever I write no matter how contradictory or confused. I am not out to convert people, just show the fruits of the imagination. God that makes sound ridiculous.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Strange but I saw it coming. Late stage capitalism has been cruising for a bruising for a while now. They should never have bailed out those bankers, it was a disgrace. Corporate socialism, can you think of anything more hideous.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. We are isolated here in Canada: more observers than participants. I worry about many things: then I look out of the window and see the snow and the deer … and the sun on the ice that coats the trees …

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Ireland is almost the same, on the edge of Europe, but it was Joyce who said history is a nightmare from which I am trying to awaken. The wounded pride of great nations, that what small nations always need to fear.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I was going to mention ancient Rome’s decadency, but I think it’s been brought up already in a round about way. Wonderful poem, Mr. Cake. As always, a thinker. Slippery reality, a dichotomy of being something we can never be sure of, yet try to avoid.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well Rome is the gold standard of decadence, that event has haunted Western Civilisation, the comparisons with America are striking, the European Union was attempt to recapture that hegemony, as was the Holy Roman Empire. You can never get away from Rome when it comes to decadence.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, well, parts of America, anyway. It depends. Take a road trip across country and one is reminded how largely rural it is. The dense metropolitan areas and the rapid growth, especially in my booming city, shows the vast amount of wealth and money being tossed around. At some point the bubble will pop, though. I can’t remember…have you read SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome? I’m working my way through it now. I love history, I studied Latin for years…so it’s good stuff in my opinion.

        Like

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