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by Eric Bogosian

From Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll,
a series of monlogues Bogosian
performed in spring 1989 at the
Orpheum Theatre in New York.

[Sits cross-legged onstage, smoking a joint]

It's like if a tree falls in the forest...I mean, if everybody knows everything, then nothing makes any difference. You say something, somebody already said it. Everything's a cliche. That's why I don't make art anymore, man.

You know what's wrong with the world today? Why everything is screwed up and you can't do anything about it? 'Cause we don't live in a human world anymore; we live in a machine world.

There's this guy I can see from my window, down in his apartment. Every night he's there, just lying on his couch, his eyes wide open, for five or six hours straight. He doesn't move. Just lies there.

Now if I didn't know he was watching TV, I'd think there was something wrong with him. I'd think he was paralyzed or hypnotized or something.

Every night all these messages from outer space go into his brain for hours on end: "Buy a new harder...your dog has bad a microwave oven..."

[Tokes on the joint]

I mean, what's a microwave oven? Everyone's got one; nobody knows what it does; nobody knows how it works. Why does everyone have one? [Tokes] Because the TV set told 'em to buy it.

Listen to this, man. The government is spending billions of dollars to build the biggest computer ever, a supercomputer, right? Huge, bigger than anything they built before. Go to the library and check it out; everything I'm saying is true. When they finish this computer, man, we're all gonna be dead. They're gonna hook that computer up to all the TV sets in everybody's house, right? And they're gonna reverse the TV sets so that they can watch you in your house doing your thing. And if you don't do what the computer wants you to do, it's gonna send a message to the TV set. And the TV set is gonna send a message to the microwave oven. Door's gonna pop open and you're gonna be ashes, man!


What about those little computer lines on everything? Go into a store, pick something up, take a look. Everything's got those little lines on it. What do those little lines mean? Nobody knows. It's not English, it's Computer. Only a computer can read that stuff. All these computers are talking to each other and nobody knows what they're saying.

We're, like living in an occupied country, man.

All day long these computers are talking to each other, on the modems and the fax machines and the satellite linkups. What are they talkin' about? I'll tell you what they are talking about: They're talkin' about you and me. How to use us more efficiently.

'Cause they're not a living thing, they're a machine. A computer is like a huge Spartan warrior with armor plate on it, right? And we're like a little tiny fluffy white kitten...and the computer looks at the kitten and says, "What should I do with this? Should I eat it? Should I squish it? Should I throw it away?" 'Cause a computer has no feelings, man.

Even Adolf Hitler had feelings. Every once in a while he'd get bummed out. Computers never get bummed out. Never.

[Stoned pause]

You know how they make bacon? They got these big meat-packing plants, which are run by computers, but then they got, like robots that run the plants. But at the very bottom of the assembly line there's a human being to hold the meat, because each piece is a little different. And these twenty-seven razor-sharp blades come down, zip right through the meat - there's your slab of bacon!

So some poor dude shows up at work in the morning a little stoned out or whatever, had a fight with his old lady, who knows? He isn't concentrating, he isn't looking at what he's doing exactly carefully. And all of a sudden down come the twenty-seven razor-sharp blades, and next thing you know, instead of a hand he's got a half-pound of slice and smoked Armour Star


Bummer, right?

Happens about once a week. And nobody does anything about it. Nobody cares. Who's to care? Machines run everything now. Every day they spill some more oil in the water, more poison in the air; they chop down more jungles. What difference does it make to a computer? Computer doesn't have to breathe the air, computer doesn't have to drink the water. They don't need air and water, we do.

What's the point of even talking about it?

[Pause] I'm stoned.

I wish we had some music. I used to like to listen to rock and roll when I get stoned. All the great old bands -- the Stones, the Who, the Jefferson Airplane -- they're all dead now. [Pause] Those bands touring around? That isn't the Stones; that isn't the Who. That's robots. They send 'em out there to confuse everybody. Listen to what they're singing about. The old bands used to sing about love and freedom and anarchy and being alive. What do the new bands sing about? Fear. Paranoia. Work harder. Buy a microwave oven.

See, 'cause the system is always sending us subliminal messages. It's got to, so that we all stay in line.

Because everybody's in their little cage, like in a giant pet shop made of millions and millions of cages, and we're like millions of little mice running on our little wheels. Just running around and around and around. And everybody's running as fast as they can, 'cause they're scared.

Every day everybody gets up, 7 a.m., two cups of caffeine. You jump in the car, get stuck in traffic, get to work, get chewed out by your boss, drink more coffee, make a deadline, drink more caffeine, jump in your car again, get stuck in more traffic, get home, pay the bills, eat your microwave dinner, get in bed real fast -- oh, watch more TV, don't forget about that; gotta get those messages -- get into bed and go to sleep so you can get up the next morning and do it all over again. [Tokes] They call that being responsible.

See, everybody's afraid. They're afraid if they don't do what they're supposed to do, BANG, they're homeless. The homeless people are like the warning to all of us to stay in our cages and not rock the boat.

You ever talk to any of those guys on the street? Everybody says they're crazy. You try staying on the street for a while, see what kind of ideas you come up with. You don't go crazy, you start to see the truth. You start talking about the way things really are.

That's why they keep those guys out there, because they're free. Freedom is a threat to the system. It's the opposite of responsibility, man.

That's why everybody stopped smoking pot. People are afraid they'll smoke pot, think too much, realize what total bullshit their lives are, and freak out. But what's the point of saying it?


They say that the greatest threat to modern man is the bomb. It has the potential to kill everybody on the face of the earth. But, you know, death is not a problem. Death is not a problem when your spirit's already dead.


That's why I stopped making art. What are you gonna say about this situation? You write a book and it's a best-seller; everybody reads it, and a week later it's old news. You sing a song, it goes top forty, then it's a jingle in a beer ad. You paint a picture, and a millionaire hangs it on the wall.

Rich people used to take lions' heads and tigers' heads and hang 'em on their walls. Made 'em feel powerful, made 'em feel safe. Now they collect artists' minds. Lets 'em sleep better knowing the best and the brightest are dead from the neck up.

So I don't give 'em the satisfaction. I keep my mind inside my head where they can't get at it, man. See, everything becomes part of the system. The only way to escape the system is to not do anything. That's what I do. If I want to paint something or write something, I just do it in my head, man, where they can't see it.

[Looks around]

If they knew what I was thinking, man, I'd be dead.

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