The term "back water town" is used in the pejorative, to indicate a town where little of significance happens, other than storing reserve drinking water for more urbane places. I grew up surrounded by reservoirs, which were created with varying sizes of dams, never once putting two and two together, that I in fact lived in a back water town. As the aesthetic of the American suburb becomes increasingly artificial, it is ever easier to forget that most of suburbia is in fact watershed land. Rain washes through our yards, percolates into the soil, and eventually winds up in reservoirs.

Americans cherish their lawns more than any people on earth. Postwar and Great Migration tract housing built with federal dollars, lent out selectively to those deemed deserving, created unprecedented wealth for the world's greatest middle class. The quarter acre patch of land, host to a hastily built and poorly insulated mid century ranch or cape cod, became not only a status symbol, but the very gateway to real status. Racial discrimination, both state-sanctioned and unofficial, ensured that all sorts of correlative resources could be hoarded through that patch of lawn: Good schools, public safety, verdant parks, libraries and gleaming public pools. Our collective cup ran over with blessings.

Throughout the seventies, as white Americans pushed farther and farther into exurbs in search of princely housing and "good schools," they took their suburban aesthetics with them, deep into watershed and wilderness. The Carpet Lawn can be found not only in Levittown and Beverly Hills, but in the foothills of the Adirondacks and in the Smokey Mountains. The look of "formal gardens" may have been passed down to Americans from European monarchies, but thanks to globalization, a glut of cheap lawn tools and undocumented labor ensures that any American, no matter how precariously middle class, can hire servants at poverty wages, who happily destroy their bodies, to fluff and primp the immaculate lawn.

To achieve the Carpet Lawn, it is not enough to pay Guatemalan and Ecuadorian immigrants to blast the ever-living shit out of every leaf, stick, and blade of cut grass, although that is de rigueur if you would like your "little slice of heaven" to look like the lawns of Versailles. Yes, it is necessary to subject your neighbors to the auditory torture of two-stroke engines every single week, from the first bird songs of spring, to the final fallen leaf. After all, who goes outdoors in the suburbs anyway? Don't we all scurry from our hermetically sealed homes to our cars and to the mall, then back again? No! The lawn care aisle of every Lowe's and Home Depot must be stocked with lawn poisons to kill any living thing, which may remain.

Never mind that the outdoors is a workplace for childcare workers, teachers, adult daycare workers, and restaurant employees–a workplace in which wearing sound dampening headphones is not an option–that hardly matters. American landowners, mostly men, must maintain their caste rights to shit in the commons without reproach. Whether it is the johnny-come-lately's of whiteness, the men who predominantly own landscaping companies, or the boomer jabroni's with their aversion to more effective and yet somehow more feminine tools like brooms and rakes. No! It is undignified to rake the .01 acre patch of carpet lawn in front of my house. I must blast it until every evidence of life is utterly swept away.

The Carpet Lawn is what philosophers of modernity would call "all form and no substance." There is no soul to it. It is dead because its humanity was stripped away from it since inception. It represents the deeper loss of humanity, which leaves us helpless before our own self-destruction. For the entirety of my 38 years on earth, America has been a net exporter of little else but the hegemonic philosophy–call it Neo-liberalism, call it Neo-conservatism, call it "rational self-interest," call it secularism–in any case, the gist is clear: The purpose of a human life is individual enjoyment, and by extension self-enrichment, and all other goods are derivative of, and subservient to, this cardinal good.

Images capture a moment in time so infinitesimally small, it can be considered a limit. In other words, images can freeze time. And time is exactly the dimension in which being human occurs. The ideal consumer abhors experiencing time. Time itself gets noticed when one is bored, when one has nothing to do, when the dopa hit of enjoyment loses its edge. Otherwise, time flies when you're having fun. Sound, on the other hand, is the essence of time, which is why music is God's native tongue. In the Allegory of the Cave for example, it is images (cast shadows) which represent form stripped of its humanity. The shadows capture nothing of the beings who are they.  The Carpet Lawn is the false image par excellence. It is a silent image, which looks nice in a dead artificial unchanging way, wholly divorced from nature, but what it sounds like to be there is quite another hell entirely.

The Carpet Lawn turns the sound of bird song and rustling wind into an endless drone of shoddy engine noise. It turns a contemplative walk on a crisp fall day into a spiritual trial, in which one expends all of her energy trying to tamp down the primal screaming of the soul. A one-note requiem for the once living souls of the dead and dying men, who swing their ersatz plastic penises around, as the fumes they inhale harden their veins and rise in a plume of carcinogenic pollution. The pesticides too, in time, trickle down into the water supply, and then the cycle is complete.

While we cherish the little piece of "private property," which we rent from our kleptocratic state, we avoid encountering ourselves. We steal time from everyone around us, our "neighbors." We do not reckon with what it means to want the outdoors to look like an interior or a photograph. We do not incorporate anything into a self, which might endure in time. This spiritual indigestion renders each of us a sort of ontological short-circuit. Rather that being good neighbors, we are reduced to deafening blowhards, barely alive, poisoning the commons, drinking our own poison, and belligerent about our right to do so.