Artist Statement

Author's Note: I wrote this because I was mad – at being considered a cog, especially one that wasn’t acceptable. Acceptable to who? To what system did I not fit? This written account is a testimony of my hatred towards being boxed in, not only within society, but within a system in which I was never asked to participate. I hope that this kind of episode only brings out the individualistic struggle a reader can relate to, and maybe even incite that inner hatred towards reflection, even action.

There’s a Hair in my Capitalism.

Kathy Elrick

 

Time and Appearance are two commodities which rule our system

Fairly well or Wells of Fair, but there is no fairness in our wells.

 

In the epoch battle of split ends, ends must be met.

And so heroes go to chop their hair as sacrifice to the gods of Appearance,

despite the lessons of Sampson.

Strength can be sapped by time, the ally of Appearance.

For without the passing of Time,

Appearance cannot be made, met, or thought of.

Thus strength will be kept in a snapshot of time,

but Appearance will be the final judge

of whether or not that strength will be seen.

 

In a salon of hair, there are maidservants to this ruler Capital.

They use their charms to lure you in, keep you occupied,

all the while they sap your soul.

The trimmings fall to the floor, little pieces of you, fragments of tales,

historic stories chopped in two.

Appearance takes hold, and whether or not “it” comes together,

the maidservant soothes your battered nerves with your un-frayed hair.

The knots are gone, the sheen has been restored, and you are beautiful. Trust them.

 

You thank them for this service. It is after all the reason

you spent your Time, to gain this Appearance.

 

You then automatically take out the meanings of exchange

of which you feel is worthy.

You have been told that it is a good thing they give you

this Appearance, not that they take

your Time, your hair, your old self.

They want your money too. Spawn of Capital to be returned to their papa.

 

Accustomed to using a form of credit which contains the promises of Capital’s children,

you give them a plastic-cut rectangle.

It is a promise of payment, an identification mark, affiliation to credibility,

the lord of their institutions – the bank.

 

Swipped once, denial.

Swipped twice, betrayal.

Swipped three times, a break down of the system.

 

Your very reputation is at stake within this rule, your own word is meaningless.

You tell them how you just purchased something from another vendor.

They confess, under their breath, their machine hasn’t been working, and

you aren’t the only one who’s been gypped that day.

But it is not their doing,

and they are as much the victim as you are.

 

You offer them your information, your driver’s license, your social security number,

your life.

Frantic, panic. Feverish anger,

justification of character through assertive commands.

Take it all. I am good for my word. Please, just let me leave this prison,

Time is precious, I have spent more than I bargained for already here.

 

A glimmer of hope – another plastic-cut rectangle.

with it you offer your soul once more – please take debit.

I have money in my account, I can pay,

please God let this work...

The offer of last resort - when there has been problems with that card before.

You keep that card more for the sake of pretending it will do you good

than actually trying to fix its problem.

 

They look at you and tell you they’ve had problems with that bank before.

And the machine only justifies the prediction.

Access denied.

 

You are incised. You know

your reputation is good,

and their system is bad.

The fact that they have - four times mind you - picked up that phone

and dialed a number which condemns you

as a thief

only makes you want to damage some property.

You tell them to their face,

 

fix your system.

 

They look down at the machine for refuge, knowing that the system

has worked before, it is not something which fails them

as much as strangers can.

You swear the people on the other end of the telephone are made up.

 

The dependency on the plastic-cut rectangles is still palpable on each side.

An ATM is just around the corner. You can get real money there.

Paper will succeed plastic this time.

When technology fails, the previous system is still viable.

 

You are tempted to just walk out. You came for the Appearance

in hair, of which is starting to grate.

The light and fluffy nature of the textured do

only makes you want to tear the rest of it out.

 

Being a reputable sort, you ask directions from a friendly cookie vendor.

Her smile either reminds you of your sanity, or the carnival situation in which you find yourself.

You head towards the machine.

It is small, but almost a shrine to the lord of Capitalism.

It is out of order. A man who’s been looking at it says it’s probably the phone line.

 

You head back to the salon, feeling bound by duty to report your findings.

They are no longer happy to see you, but tired, and one is possibly frightened.

The sweet nature of the cherubs turns to haggard waifs under the control of a ravenous lord.

Finally, there is a compromise.

They keep what you purchased, take your information, and a record of the failed transaction.

Considering you mentioned you do have checks, they will try one more time to trust you,

since you have held yourself there, and come back to find a solution.

By holding part of your appearance hostage,

they will allow you to retry participating in their system.

 

You are tempted to leave them again, but this time you are allowed

to go home to get the checks.

You wish never to come back. But instead, you race home to grab the checks.

You come back

into that now familiar cave

and wait.

Patiently.

With a smile.

You understand the taxing purpose

of social relations under the strictures of Capital

and it’s sickly aid of Appearance.

 

You start writing the check.

One of the maidservants sees you and says she’ll be right with you.

She is surprised you returned within the night.

She didn’t expect customers to be righteous.

Or if she did, not to be so extreme about it

within a system that promotes leisure.

Why should one be so hard on themselves or others?

 

With courtesy, but little eye-contact on either part of the transaction,

mainly due to lack of food,

it’s late,

they haven’t had a break,

and neither have you,

there is full repayment of the original amount.
Tip still included, because the job was sufficient.

The transaction is finalized, and you receive your prize,

the shackles of Appearance, and

the continuation of Capitalism.

Vindication is won,

feelings hard pressed,

but how is justice realized?

Euphemism Campus Box 5555 Illinois State University Normal, IL 61790