As the God of the Gaps diminishes,
And once narrow minds take a wider view,
As one age of unreason finishes,
Another takes root and comes bursting through.
No more are witches cast into the fires
By servants of the theocratic state,
But in the New Age gloaming ’cross the Shires,
The Pagans and the Wiccans congregate.
In nurseries and schools throughout the land
The cry of Salem rises and is heard
By those who see the Devil’s horny hand
Behind the unexplained and the absurd.
No more are spirits conjured up by rhymes,
And plagues and fevers warded off by spells,
But in these enigmatic, troubled times
Astrology and any nonsense sells.
Magic dressed up as science goes the rounds,
Mystics hijack the quantum and the quark,
The frauds of the new churches know no bounds,
Each claims to be a candle in the dark.
Old beer, new bottles, snake oil salesmen peddle
The latest nostra, flim-flam runs amuk,
The reckless, feckless and unworthy meddle,
To prophecy, to cure ills and bring luck.
And luck does come for some, like Uri Geller,
And wicked old women like Doris Stokes,
The psychic spoon-bender is one rich fella,
And Doris made a mint pulling her strokes.
Some argue that the paradoxers often
Perform some valued service for their shills,
That skeptics should their criticisms soften;
They fail to see that ignorance still kills.
For blind faith is a failing and a folly,
Revealed truth is a sham and always was;
The sapients are raking in the lolly,
Their followers dwell in the Land of Oz.
Alien abductees, their brains distorted,
Foolhardy folk who think they’ve been possessed,
No fad or lunacy goes unreported
When memories are said to be repressed.
A child goes missing, the police are frantic,
The psychic detectives are out in force,
The tabloids drool on every stupid antic,
None turn up any clues: par for the course.
A New Age dawns, but ’tis no age of reason,
The snake oil salesmen still control the game,
Perennially it’s the silly season:
The bottles change, the product stays the same.
I wrote This Age Of Reason in Brixton Prison, in early 1997 as far as I can recall; it was published in Pipeline, Spring 1998, page 22. You can find details of my trials, tribulations and legal persecutions elsewhere on this site. They make depressing reading, for me at any rate.
This issue of Pipeline came through my door in mid-April 1998. A couple of typos have been added in the original, a scan of which can be found below. In line 4 of verse 2 the word “the” has been omitted, but this has been inserted in line 1 of verse 4. The poem itself is a palinode to the ludicrous Prisoners; may the God of the Gaps forgive me for having penned such nonsense.
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