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  • John Small


An Unintended Preceding Preface

“I should be tempted to say that the centre of gravity of such a man and his balancing point tend to become external to himself: that he projects himself more and more into objects, into various pieces of apparatus on which he depends for his existence. It would be no exaggeration to say that the more progress ‘humanity’ as an abstraction makes towards the mastery of nature, the more actual individual men tend to become slaves of this very conquest.”

—Gabriel Marcel, Man Against Mass Society written: 1952.


Better to cut off the ear than cut off the budding of culture. Earbuds sprout amongst the

plantations of society. The flower spreading from the bottom of that meaningless vase. We wear

it. Trying to catch that fresh beat, best not be caught listening with bad apples. But I haven’t

found a song that I haven’t liked. In fact, I’ve never not liked the songs of society. I hear them all

the time; they cruise on platitudes of plentitudes. Harvesting pear trees of the past for the present

feeling. I confess. I got culture on repeat. I put it on shuffle just so it can show me. Show me

whatever that shuffle hits me with. Why self-reflect? The relativity of relevance lets me be

always better so that I can never be right.

When I can culturally deflect. I turn up the volume so I can’t hear you. I turn up the

volume so I can’t hear I. Now, I can always hear society screaming beating it drums in my ears.

Culture constantly consciously is my ears. I can never not hear it. Yet, when I speak, I cannot

hear myself. When I express, I cannot discern what I say. We walk around with the calling of

culture in our heads. It calls us to act a certain way. It proclaims an explicit ethic. The arbiters are

arbitrarily chosen and any moment if it is recorded it exists as your definition. The views of the

people within the culture perceive relativity entirely in reaction to the culture itself. The culture

is the pole of our polarity. On this same pole, we keep playing ring around the rosie.

I never forget my headphones. Why hear you when I can hear them. Why hear myself

when I can hear them. The collective expression is not merely greater than the individual

expression it is the supplication…the substitute of the individual expression. Want to know how

I feel? Hear this song. See this emoji. Check this meme. Media is no longer the medium of

communication it is that which we communicate. Why? Because, we have nothing to say. Why say anything when you’re walking around with headphones? I looked for off button but couldn’t

find it. I looked for the power button but couldn’t find it. Where is it? Where are my


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