Category Archives: Culture

The Last Curtain: How Miles Mathis Destroyed (and Gave Me Back) My Life

The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.

—Edward Bernays (“father of public relations,” nephew of Freud, subject of BBC documentary Century of the Self )

Having just finished binge-reading my way through some fifty articles by researcher Miles Mathis, I go into 2017 with zero confidence that any news from the corporate media is real. The timing is ironic, given the hissy fit that the same mainstream media, led by the New York Times, has indulged in, over so-called “fake news.”

Thinking most of my adult life outside the box of the corporate media, and open minded to alternative theories of major news events such as the Kennedy assassination and 9/11, I already knew the CIA had its hooks in major media (admitted in Congressional testimony in 1975). And thanks to the prior research of Dave McGowan, I had already been alerted to the Intelligence connections of most of the California rock music bands of the sixties, not to mention the abundant evidence of fakery of the Moon landings.

Enter researcher Miles Mathis, to take the whole field of “conspiracy” research to a new level, exposing even most alternative theories as misdirection, and outing seemingly every mainstream cultural icon as an agent, accomplice or dupe of the Intelligence services, at the behest of the ruling elite. Mathis’ most radical vision is that even most alternative “conspiracy” theories (including those of McGowan) play into the larger deception or are a form of controlled opposition, hiding the bigger picture of events from public scrutiny, and reinforcing the illusion that controversial personalities, assassinations, and terror events were real at all.

Mathis explains the pitfall of most such “alternative” or “conspiracy” analyses:

They take a subject, say the Manson murders. They show you many anomalies in the mainstream story, and then give you a new reading. So, they seem to be presenting an alternative history. But if they accept that the Manson murders were real, they have just solidified the mainstream story, while seeming to undercut it. In most of these stories, the mainstream doesn’t care if you see anomalies, or if you think there are conspiracies. They don’t care who you think might be involved. All they care about is that you believe it happened. The details are superfluous. They don’t matter. What matters is the bottom line: that you believe the event happened. All these alternative histories sell the events at least as strongly as the mainstream ever did.

What, you may ask then, is the point of such misdirection? Mathis says that it is to distract and confuse, mis-educate and entertain the masses so we don’t rise up and toss out the rapacious billionaires who run this Matrix of a world. And if that sounds like a Marxist solution, think again, as Mathis shows even Marx was planted to divert popular energy from authentic grassroots organizations of political change, especially the so-called republican movements then on the rise in 1840s Europe.

I emerge from my binge reading of Mathis—artist, physics bad boy, cultural critic, and constant exposer of spooks—with every surety of my youth dispelled by his X-ray vision. Using extensive genealogy from mainstream sources, expert deconstruction of faked news photos, and persuasive logic bolstered by straight-up honesty of method and intent, with a charming way of presenting strong opinions as nothing other than personal speculation, Mathis has caused the house of cards to fall all around me.

All the historical hallmarks of my generation’s heyday, the sixties, lay toppled as shams. Yes, I already knew the Gulf of Tonkin incident was staged, that the mainstream verdict on the Kennedy murder was controlled, and that the Patti Hearst kidnapping was an Intelligence operation. But I still believed my path to truth lay in the writers and musicians who inspired my rise in consciousness above what I came to view as the materialistic mainstream culture and its warmongering government in the US. Now I find that the very icons of the so-called counterculture were themselves enmeshed in the mass deception.

Red Flags: Agents, Fakes, Staged Events and Controlled Opposition

We already know from official testimony that the CIA has controlled major media such as the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. From Mathis we see that also such supposedly independent outlets such as Salon, the Paris Review, and the Atlantic are similarly compromised.

Going back even before the official creation of the CIA in 1947, Intelligence fingerprints are found in all the major stories and figures of the history we were told in mass education and media. Here is a partial list of the scam personalities and events exposed by Mathis as tools of Intelligence agencies serving the agenda of global control by the elite: admitted agents, demonstrable fakes, staged events, controlled opposition, and dupes conscripted for damage control (in no particular order):

Alex Jones (Infowars), Mike Adams (Natural News), Kevin Barrett (Veterans Today), Geoengineering/Chemtrails, Leonardo DiCaprio, Theosophy and the Beat Generation, Peter Matthiessen, William Carlos Williams, Wendell Berry, Atomic/Hydrogen bomb blasts and tests, C. S. Lewis, George Fox, Fidel Castro and the Bay of Pigs, Karl Marx, Charles Manson / Sharon Tate murders, Ernest Hemingway, Noam Chomsky, George Orwell, O. J. Simpson trial, Salem Witch Trials, Michael Crichton, T. S. Eliot, Ray Bradbury, William S. Burroughs, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, George Clooney, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Patti Hearst kidnapping, Lincoln assassination, Lennon assassination, Sandy Hook story, Maurice Strong, Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Tom Wolfe, Abbie Hoffman, Steve Jobs, Jack London, Elon Musk and SpaceX, Mark Zuckerberg, Krishnamurti, Napoleon, Monica Lewinsky scandal, Daniel Ellsburg and the Pentagon Papers, Watergate, Custer’s Last Stand, Stephen Hawking, Naomi Klein and Naomi Wolf, Hollywood, Adolf Hitler, Thomas Pynchon, Eugene Debs, Jane Fonda, Joseph Campbell, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Abstract Expressionism, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Walt Whitman, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Peter Paul & Mary, Terence McKenna…

I confess to a certain generational bias here, for like Mathis (in his fifties), I am most disturbed by having the idols of my youth, and the truths I took to be self-evident facts of a delivered history in the making, turned into so much puppet theatre. Meanwhile, our personal angst of disillusionment aside, that manufactured history has marched on. The traditional battle lines between rich and poor, left and right, have been redrawn as neoliberals and neoconservatives have joined forces in launching the New World Order, leaving us peons outside the golden gates of the industrial/financial elite.

It is now the super-rich versus everyone else. Almost everyone who isn’t a billionaire is getting reamed right now, so your allies are everyone making less than $500,000 a year. That is a lot of allies… They don’t like working for corrupt paymasters, against their own neighbors and usually against their own better judgment…. The best thing that could happen is if America stood up and said no more… The hippies used to be at the forefront of that movement, and could be again. That is what it is to be a real progressive.

Modernism and Postmodernism

What Mathis does that is most relevant to the artist and writer is to puncture the balloon of modernism and postmodernism. And what exactly was modernism? Wikipedia’s definition is revealing, for it substantiates precisely that intended function as Mathis critiques it, casting realism, and by extension, content itself, into the dustbin of history:

Modernism, in general, includes the activities and creations of those who felt the traditional forms of art, architecture, literature, religious faith, philosophy, social organization, activities of daily life, and even the sciences, were becoming ill-fitted to their tasks and outdated in the new economic, social, and political environment of an emerging fully industrialized world. The poet Ezra Pound‘s 1934 injunction to “Make it new!” was the touchstone of the movement’s approach towards what it saw as the now obsolete culture of the past. In this spirit, its innovations, like the stream-of-consciousness novel, atonal (or pantonal) and twelve-tone music, divisionist painting and abstract art, all had precursors in the 19th century.

A notable characteristic of modernism is self-consciousness and irony concerning literary and social traditions, which often led to experiments with form, along with the use of techniques that drew attention to the processes and materials used in creating a painting, poem, building, etc. Modernism explicitly rejected the ideology of realism.

Postmodernism simply extended the trend further in subjectivity and relativism (again, from Wikipedia): denying the “existence of objective reality and absolute truth, as well as notions of rationalityhuman nature, and progress…. Accordingly, postmodern thought is broadly characterized by tendencies to epistemological and moral relativismpluralismself-referentiality, and irony.”

Thus these movements, which cover the entire spectrum of Western culture in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, were engineered and manipulated, coopted and directed, infiltrated and funded, for one purpose: the creative destruction of everything we have taken for granted as cultural and political citizen-consumers. These synthetic replacements have been planted in our brains as the most interesting and relevant forms and purposes of art, a campaign expressly designed to depoliticize us.

In this context the hidden agenda of the sixties documented by Mathis (and admitted by the CIA, in the form of their program MK-ULTRA, among others) makes sense: the promotion of a hedonistic culture of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. At the time, we who lived through that “revolutionary” era felt it as a genuine alternative to the previously promoted culture of the fifties, which celebrated the pursuit of happiness with makeup, a new car, and better living through chemistry, along with those same perennial addictions—sex appeal; booze, pills and cigarettes; the birth of rock ‘n roll.

To digress a moment into modern music, we had hard bop jazz pushing the edges of music as art (more than mass entertainment, which was the function of rock n roll, with its own lyrics, by the way, promoting sex, drugs and music)—to its limits where beyond lay John Cage, free jazz, and electronic abstraction. Of course the Beat writers like Kerouac and Ginsberg, whom I once loved, celebrated that very art and music in their writing and reflected it in their style: “spontaneous bop prosody.”

In the music culture since the early days of the century the jazz edge of music was allied with pot smoking. With CIA plants like Huxley and Leary pushing the psychedelics, that cultural wave was amped up and turned in the opposite direction of the concurrent wave of political protest. The progressive movement of the thirties had already got railroaded out of the picture by World War Two, but it became more threatening in the Civil Rights and Disarmament/Antiwar movements of the sixties and beyond. So, following Mathis’s logic, even those movements were coopted or turned or touted to fail, or deemed useful in demonizing those very advocates—militant Blacks, airy peaceniks, dirty hippies—thus creating false enemies within the society: the Left vs. the Right, liberals vs. conservatives, straight vs. stoned. Both the putative state—the visible, pre-elected government—and its decadent dissidents (or in popular terms, the “Silent Majority” and the “Radical Fringe”) were set to arguing on the playground, while the real business of Global Corporatocracy proceeded apace.

By advocating the primacy of form (“The Medium is the Message”), McLuhan and clan, like stage magicians, kept the audience’s eye on the trick. Content, especially political content about the all-too-real world, was to be left in the dust, forever. Even science, quantum theory and the relativity of everything to the all-powerful subjectivity of the individual observer, followed the same path, according to Mathis, so as to cast doubt on all claims of realism by anyone, especially political journalists.

In the lightning flash of a crack in the curtain of the magician’s chamber, we have Minister of Propaganda himself, Karl Rove, chiding a pesky reporter (Ron Susskind):

We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.

What has happened in politics has happened in art, and by design, says Mathis. I admit this grudgingly because like everyone else I was brainwashed to hold in high esteem every icon of the mass education and entertainment industry, even those painted or pumped as rebels (my personal demigod Jimi Hendrix included, according to other researchers). Mathis gives a pass to Thoreau, and few other iconoclasts, but most of the rest of our cultural heroes prove, by instructive genealogy and demonstrably faked bios, darlings if not blood relatives of the Intelligence and Military wings of the Deep State (exhibit A being Jim Morrison of the Doors, son of the very same Admiral Morrison who presided over the faked Gulf of Tonkin incident which precipitated the full-scale launch of the Vietnam War).

When I digest such truths, it’s hard for me to believe anymore in my former indulgence with stream of consciousness writing or formless music. Now that I’m hooked back into content by Mathis and his ilk, I see the virtue of realism and formalism in art with new respect. The critique carries even into New Age spirituality, played so often to the classic Timothy Leary mantra, “Turn on, tune in, drop out”—negating engagement with the nasty real world of the ongoing despoliation of our fragile planet.

Trust Thyself

I come into 2017 seeing no verities left in the vacuum of popular culture, with its cooptation by the mega-corporations and intelligence insiders complete. Even the barricades of supposed resistance are manufactured and monitored for their effect, to give the illusion of dissent: manufactured dissent to complement the manufactured consent.

If a truly independent voice is to expressed, by a Thoreau or a Mathis or by you or me, it has no medium left but that of a local venue, or of an Internet and on a computer created and maintained and monitored by that very Military-Industrial complex. But no, wait, even that was misdirection from the deeper state, the Intelligence complex, the propaganda machine, the Oz wizards like Edward Bernays… surveying all from their towers, pulling hidden levers, carrying out the orders of the uber-rich to make sure the peasantry is well occupied with clashing their pitchforks together in those spare moments wrested from their eternal debt servitude.

“In the future,” Mathis prophesies, “every day will be a holiday. That is to say, every day will be used as an unsubtle psychological cue to some great lie. Every party you attend will have as its theme some specific item of your manufactured confusion. In this way, you will be taught to celebrate your own mis-education, and revel in it.”

In the face of such utter nihilism, we might retreat further, and in defense of our remaining sanity, brand Mathis himself as yet another misdirector, an ultimate agent of confusion, who is attempting to shoo us away from true assassinations and revolts and genuine actors of history whether good or evil. That is our prerogative, Mathis would agree; and to his credit, any conclusions he arrives at are offered not as truths for us to swallow, but rather as hypotheses in the spirit of scientific investigation, speculations resulting from evidence. The reader is the ultimate judge and jury of fact or fiction, logic or charade.

The antidote to our manufactured past and future history, I am consoled, is provided by the awareness of its many-layered illusions. The scary truth out there, I conclude from the evidence, is that we and our planet have been enslaved; but the empowering truth, I believe, is that the truth itself can set us free. Free to discard what is revealed as false; free to believe what rings true in our hearts; and free to act accordingly.

Further Reading:

Miles Mathis articles and updates

U.S. Government Has Long Used Propaganda Against the American People – official and mainstream documentation by Washington’s Blog

The Century of the Self – 4-part BBC documentary featuring PR guru Edward Bernays

Gnostic Media – extensive research on sixties era (incl. interview with elder Bernays)


The Threat to Nonfiction in the Digital Age

No, this is not a serious academic treatise detailing the legal ramifications of libel and slander, copyright and moral rights, or defamation as such. Rather, I come at it from the dilemma of one engaged in frequent travel, blogging back to a select few (~65) friends  about my experiences around the world, including the people I met along the way. Stories of friends and fellow tourists alike pose the difficulty inherent in digital transparency: how to render fairly, or at all, when reactions of inaccuracy or inappropriateness of sharing are inevitable?

With Facebook and other social media now so ubiquitous, it becomes a practical problem to write about one’s own life (traveling or not), when any of the real-life characters you may write about are likely to read it or are linked to someone who will. Changing or leaving out names can help but does not ensure anonymity for those in one’s known network. So asking permission is a good solution if there is any risk of offending someone portrayed in print.

Some would object even to sharing one’s own outer and inner journey in public. I don’t mind feeding myself into that hopper, grist for the mill. I do balk, however, at reporting incidents involving people I know, or even restaurateurs or hostel managers who may find themselves Googled over to my observations one way or another.

privacyThe result of these novel inhibitions is to filter the creative lens; even, potentially, to put actual interpersonal experience off limits to nonfictional reportage—unless officialized by the interview mode, the waiver form, or by changing personal details “to protect the innocent” (as well as the guilty).

When we go down the road of Creative Nonfiction, we have an insurance policy whereby details of presentation are a matter of choice, and even of invention. If we care too much about matters of accuracy and transparency, however, our cold feet will likely lead us on a different path. That one leads to the promised land of creative freedom, but a land of exile from “what really happened”: the land of fiction.


Talking Story, Inuit-Style

Review of Angirattut (Coming Home) 

Angirattut is the new film by by Zacharias Kunuk, the director of the Cannes award-winning Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner. In this film the timeframe is brought to the present—through the lens of a group of Inuit returning to the abandoned site of the camp they inhabited 50 years before. The film is remarkable in featuring neither English speech nor subtitles, but only the continuous, measured tones of Inuit speech in their language, Inuktitut. Nor does much action of any kind happen: mostly sitting around “talking story,” as Hawaiians would say. Each listening patiently to what the speaker has to say, in their turn. Their story, their tears, laughter and eyes seeing all.

Inuit village skiddo

This experience, engaging with it, requires and rewards with patience: the image of the young man tending a fragile fire at sunset, beside the stone slabs of the grave of an ancestor, looking out to sea. The old woman, her legs swollen with diabetes, carefully placing feet and cane, with the hand of another, on the ground of moss and stones as she walks to the boat that will take her away again.

A fellow moviegoer remarked that in my novel Hunter’s Daughter he was first exposed to that quality of the Inuit to listen so patiently, not interrupting, not in a hurry to do anything else or go anywhere, and in a while they can have a turn. So the stories are shared. Memories revived, decisions made. There is an implicit respect at work, and with that respect, the responsibility to address issues with direct and heartfelt speech.

It is gratifying to see this fundamental character of Inuit society portrayed so purely. While the film may seem, for many of us Hollywood-dazzled viewers, lacking in action and plot, it is slow with a purpose, one that dawns on us, also slowly. It tells us, in its own words: This is how it’s done. With respect, with laughter and tears, ears hearing and eyes seeing all.

Review of The Circle, by Dave Eggers

The Circle, by Dave Eggers (note: spoiler alert!)

eggersIt’s funny, after reading this book I have mixed feelings about posting a review. Part of the genius of The Circle is putting the main character (Mae) in a position we are progressively drawn to question. At the end we must, like Mae’s Luddite ex-partner, Mercer, and even, surprisingly, Ty, the brains behind the Circle itself, renounce the premise of universal sharing.

So the funny feeling comes with this sense of obligation attached to sharing: “Sharing is Caring. Secrets are Lies. Privacy is Theft.” These slogans take us only a half-step from where we are already; yet they also harken back to the propaganda banners of Orwell’s classic cautionary fable, Animal Farm: “War is Peace,” “Slavery is Freedom.” The world of The Circle is the logical extension of our ultra-connected virtual country without borders or boundaries, ruled by NSA, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and texting. The Circle helps us realize that we are poised at the threshold of universal data, in which the domain of private life dissolves into complete “transparency.”

The choice is clear, in the book: the only response to the completing of the circle is to decide, Am I in or out? Mercer chooses out, and that means death, as his backwoods escape is thwarted. As a “follower” of the action, we too can register our response: a smile, a frown. Do we side with that libertarian “Sasquatch” who opts (along with Mae’s parents, and presumably, another minority demographic) to go back to the land, in rural isolation—or with the masses of the public (Mae’s followers) eager to join the crusade of “knowing everything”? In case we are still on the fence, one of the three “Wise Men” of the company behind the Circle bails, and his defection adds weight to the arguments against totalitarian transparency. Against such logic Mae is steadfast, supported by her legions of eager Circlers eager to mandate compulsory inclusion, and indeed by the tide of history in the closing circle of our digital world.

Mae is an ironic heroine, whom we have signed up for as a supporter, because we care about her and she means well. She surpasses her mentor and friend Annie, who breaks under the pressure of her family’s shameful past being exposed. She is that shiny-faced, earnest idealist of the persuasion that what is good for safety and security is good for everyone, all the time.

Is there a middle ground anywhere between the new world order of the Circle and the reclusive privacy of the naysayers? I suppose by sharing this review I am inviting just such an exploration, as indeed Eggers does by offering this one-way mirror of our times.


Buy The Circle from Amazon.