THE TIMES...AN EXCERPT FROM A "WORK IN PROGRESS" by: Lupe Fiasco
Stepping out into the square the first thing noticed is the emptiness. Odd because the square is crawling with people. It is at maximum capacity. It is full. The emptiness is not the lack of objects but the lack of substance. The lack of purpose. Odd again because the square is full of things to do. It is bustling with all forms of entertainment and engagement. It is full of purpose. The dual nature of the square leads one to cancel out attempts at identifying the true nature of the square because at once it is undefinable and also defines itself thoroughly. The purpose of the square is nothing that feels like something. The square is ornate but lacks artistic appeal. The ornate gilding and filigree is mere reproduction of some original romantic or oriental design. It mimics authenticity but by its very unnatural production it is stripped of any authentic merit. Its placement among the modern structures and fixtures screams out that it doesn't belong even though it's just as modern as they are age-wise. It betrays itself. It cancels itself out.
Nothing can be added to the square. Things are only taken by the square. Everything in the square costs some portion of oneself. Time is taken in the square and paid to the relentless marketing stalls, signage and campaigns. Money is taken in the square by the ceaseless vending machines of unnecessary items. Life is not taken in the square though. Life is exchanged. Your non-square life in exchange for the glamour and speed of the square's life. There is a glut of communication in the square but no talking. No conversation. Merely questions about the state of your present affairs and the opportunity to modify them for a time. The chance to become beautiful, fashionable, important, happy, desirable, entertained, perfect. In short all the things you were not before you entered the square.
The food of the square is delicious and plentiful, if you can afford it. The price of this sustenance is high at the start of the day but the value depreciates over its course as the food rushes to its inevitable rottenness. Its own self-destructive unsuitability. However If you don't mind the taste of waste you can maintain a rather balanced diet in the square. As you see even as the food becomes waste it is forbidden to be given as well. It must be re-purposed. From valuable to valueless in the course of 24 hours. But its value never drops to point of free. Freedom must be paid for. The calculations of the square's mathematicians can be utterly cruel. The true acidic nature of the square bubbles ominously beneath its cool surface. The power to strip value at an ever increasing pace is the squares most constant attribute.
The square is overflowing with life. Bursting at the seams with life. It is an overload of life. So much so that once one leaves the life of the square it is hard to find a comparable intensity of life elsewhere. The life of the square kills off the life of everything outside of it but at the same time feeds off this outside life as well. The square secretes a life-giving poison. An unnatural paradox made all the more conflicting because of the squares peaceful pronouncements. But all the time the square is at war. The square is constantly at war with the world outside of it and the worlds that continually traverse within its borders. A war waged with peaceful weapons in the hands of friendly homicidal maniacs. A war of sensory imperialism. A war for resources to keep the square at war. Lo and Behold the death's head of the square!
The square is constantly surveilled. The square although constantly courageous in its raw self-expressiveness lives under constant fear. The fear of any unauthorized self-expression by others. Watching others for anything asymmetrical, learning from them, assimilating them if they are of value or removing them if they are not. The square does not fear its destruction. It lives in fear of being forgotten. So it is ever inventive of ways to remind others of its existence. Redundantly in competition with itself to out do its previous incarnation of itself. Forever mutating and evolving. Sacrificing its own limbs and memories in hopes of staying on the minds of its transient inhabitants. "To forget to remember" is its mission statement for this process.
The current genesis of the square is its most profound and applauded by its designers as its finest moment. The mobilization of the square. The ability of the square to exist outside of itself, implanted in the minds and hearts of all those who have ever entered its domain. A parasitic relationship between itself and us. It moves as we move and ultimately we move as it influences us to move. Our perspective is its perspective. It has become one with us. So now we are also at constant war with ourselves. We are constantly chasing a newer, better self-identity abandoning any former substantial definitions to the scrap heap of obsolescence no matter how pertinent they are to our continued survival. We apply and remove value irregardless of impact to the world at rates that Geiger counters would fail to measure with any surety. We are truly radioactive. Decaying in decadence. The square is us, full of emptiness.
I was at the airport in Chicago. I went to use the restroom. When I was done I went to wash my hands. When I looked up from the sink into the mirror I saw an advertisement instead of my reflection. It was one of the most honest and terrifying points of my life. We've come full circle in the square.