In Their Own Words

Zoë Hitzig on “Silent Auction”

Silent Auction

On “Silent Auction”

Power creates reality. I often think about that famous moment from the Bush era in which a White House aide derided members of “the reality-based community,” who “believe that solutions emerge from [a] judicious study of discernible reality.” Elaborating on why he found this community moronic, the aide continued, “That's not the way the world really works anymore… We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.”

The menacing speaker of this poem wants to go further. “We already have empire. Let / us make market.” The speaker describes the creation of a market economy as a slapdash aesthetic process, painting daubs and swabs here and there, exerting full control over the violent reality that ensues: “Pretty pricing patterns contain damning dispatches.”

Mezzanine is obsessed with the many insidious ways in which power creates reality, especially through economic, technological and legal systems. This poem­­—one of three in Mezzanine with the title “Silent Auction”—appears in a section of the book that orbits around state-sanctioned violence. The section is a nightmarish rollercoaster, hurtling through references to torture, meaningless wars, dollar dependence, the oil trade, climate calamity, the carceral state, lethal racism and police brutality. The engine driving these varied forms of violence is America’s unforgiving—and unforgiveable—brand of capitalism, which stops at nothing in its quest for scale: “Be too large. Amortize the sun.”

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