Winston Smith for the Modern Age
I am an enemy combatant. I did not know that I was, but the fine people of the US Department of Homeland Security assured me that I was. Perhaps I did not gaze at the American flag as admiringly as my surrounding compatriots did or maybe my vocalized herald within the “USA…USA…USA” repetitive chant of properly displayed patriotism was not as charismatic as the undimmed voices around me. I may even have checked out a suitably suspect piece of reading or viewing material at my local library. I honestly did not recall?
The US Department of Justice had summarily justified their classification of my being an enemy combatant. Nice, wholesome, well informed people in all-American clothing regalia came to my house to personally inform me of my shamefully diminutive status. They comforted me and put my awkward fears to rest, as they clicked the shiny manacles around my trembling wrists and ankles. They then whisked me away in the locked back of a camouflage painted over Brinks armored truck provided for my safety. A cottony textured black fabric was even supplied to protect my eyes from witnessing further traitorous atrocities I had unwittingly committed against my country.
Upon kitting me out in a lovely orange jumpsuit and comfortably sharp edged plastic flip-flops, I was taken to my very own place of solitude, where smirking men in expensive business suits came to speak exclusively with me. We talked for hours on end about my impetuous disloyalty and played endless verbal games of twenty questions centering upon the complexities of my multi-layered levels of unpatriotic dissent. The men all had copies of my distraught letters to my local newspaper’s editorial department. They sounded as if they had committed their typed, blasphemous words to memory. I was impressed.
To aid me in answering some of the questions, sturdy officers guided me to a cool cement floor where my face was draped in a thin towel while water was poured down from above. I think someone somewhere referred to it as water boarding. Why, it felt so much like a pleasant shower that my desperate, choking attempts to breathe were all but forgotten. With my lungs pushed to the verge of collapse, I felt certain medical officials must have been watching the session as an inspirational treatment for asthmatics. I was, after all, the non-patriotic bad seed, resisting the protective efforts of the government so eager to save me from myself.
Upon resurrecting me from the depths of transformational liquidity, I was seated in a regally straight posture atop an uncompromising steel chair. The stress of my locked wrist and ankle chains proved as efficient as the most brisk treatment I might have received from the chiropractor. The black fabric re-submerged my eyes from the harsh overhead glare of the bare light bulb. Well-meaning, unseen men asked me repetitive questions, patiently waiting for me to answer them correctly. Adeptly placed blows against my body informed me of any incorrect responses issued from my misguided lips.
When human physicality proved ineffective at purging me of my stubborn clinging to the illusion of the principle: “innocent until proven guilty,” I became starkly aware of a strident electric current coursing through my body. I imagine it must have been elegant to survey my restrained bodily limbs contorting about like some violently manipulated life-size marionette. Too bad the black fabric prevented me from seeing my helpful friends’ supportive smiles. Their spoken applause of my uncontrollable jerking movements left me feeling disoriented, though proud. I was beginning to show promise, they informed me, which brought grateful, frenzied laughter welling up from the innermost depths of my soul.
In the end, of course, I was sent away to the sunny tropical island paradise of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where loving, adoptive soldiers presided over my every waking and sleeping moment with kindhearted care. Often, this caring manifested itself with them gently positioning me into stress offsetting yoga-like kneeling forms that I silently held for hours at a time, determined to impress them with my thankful fortitude.
When I reached my aspired to platform of being successfully rehabilitated of my unpatriotic disloyalty, I was returned to my home, astonished to discover three years had passed since my enemy combatant odyssey had begun. My friends and neighbors wept openly at my sparkling new attitude, the old familiar governmental cynicism and distrust burned away. My family, of course, was not there to welcome me. It was required that they be cured of any disloyal undertones, too. I understood that, now. Two freshwater tears trickled down the sides of my surgically repaired nose. I was now bereft of my formerly cruel, needless misunderstanding! I was no longer a stubborn, self-willed exile from the open arms of my President’s welcoming embrace! With a host of watchful generosity and the passionate structure of stringent corrective measures designed for my ultimate well being, I had successfully won the victory over myself. I loved Big Government. Or was it Big Brother? Or was Big Brother George W. Bush—father and architect of the illustrious War on Terror doctrinal philosophy? It was somewhat confusing, but then, my mind had been washed completely clean and was a fresh and vibrant new white board for governmental figures to record my every unquestioning obeisance upon.
What a wondrous new frontier I had embarked upon! I marveled! I sobbed joyously at my fortuitous, narrow rescue from my previously self-willed descent into unpatriotic purgatory. I had been saved from myself and was no longer an enemy combatant. Indeed, I felt as though I had never been one, to begin with, so renewed was my spirit of formerly obscured love for America. Those who policed my obstinate, ungrateful thoughts were my selfless benefactors, worthy of my heartfelt gratitude until the hour of my happy, vapid demise.
(Is it live, or is it facial-pattern recognition software?)
There is so much more to people
Than is openly enshrouded upon their faces:
A deeply furrowed brow
May express nervous energy
Or rejuvenated anger
Eyebrows tilted upward
Indicate as much candid surprise
As they do sordid shock
A flash of the eyes
Runs a heavy emotional gambit
From silent capitulation to emboldened realization
A deeply-inhaling nose
Seeks the scent of fragrant wildflowers
(Or is it hay fever’s vicious post-nasal drip?)
The cheekbones’ bright red patches
Focus upon winter’s stark cold
As equally as upon a night of warm imbibing
Whistling lips inspire Hollywood men
Building bridges across River Kwai
Or the summoning of the headstrong family dog
Free flowing smiles demonstrate all
From enlivened joy found in momentous occasion
To sarcastic rancor experienced in cruel deception
The dimples that encase those smiles
The only facial lines found “cute”
When one is not still a youngster
Sloping chins jut forward; outward
A human precipice heralding
The thinker’s closed fist or the boxer’s jaw snapped back
Faces’ elaborate facets, like the twisting jumble
Of multi-colored beads turned inside the kaleidoscope
Can be recorded, analyzed, and categorized:
Ask any FBI representative