Category Archives: Literature

magical thinking

Magical Thinking

The phrase “magical thinking” comes up sometimes in political/spiritual discussions… as in, New Agers  being apolitical and resorting to magical thinking to solve the world’s problems:

  • The aliens will come to save us from the evil human empire.
  • The good aliens will come to save us from the evil alien controllers of the human empire.
  • Free energy will solve all our energy needs.
  • We just need to dismantle the banks and erase all debt and we will all thrive.
  • We just need to meditate more and purify our souls and the world will evolve in a quantum New York minute… not too much longer, after 21 December 2012.
  • With positive affirmations we can all manifest our dreams.
  • If we don’t think about Fukushima it will go away.
  • All we need is love.

Not that the classic political activists, like the old socialists, with their hardnosed realpolitik, are that far off the same delusional optimism:

  • Once the workers have seized control, the state will wither away.
  • Once we kill the pigs and fuck the man, we will all be free.
  • Dismantle capitalism, and greed and exploitation will vanish.

The point being, we look at problems in the world, or in our individual lives, and wish them away. “I’m going to lose ten pounds by dieting next month.” “I’m going to promote my book every day on Twitter and it will become a best-seller.” “I’m going to put my profile on Plenty of Fish and attract my soul mate.” Problem solved, as if by magic.

magical thinking

I found myself a half hour into the party, wondering where my pack went. Upstairs in the entryway where I came in? Nope. Downstairs in the music room, or the spare bedroom? Nope. Outside by my car, where I could almost remember putting it down to retrieve instruments? Nope. Check back inside. Ask around. Check back outside.

Dumb me, I must have left it beside the car on the road, 11:15 pm on St. Patrick’s Day night, and some joyriding teenagers picked it up to see what they could nab.

Back inside, Marg phoned around to half a dozen friends who had left in the last half hour. No dice. They didn’t have it or they didn’t answer. So, thinking back, I could almost see myself putting my pack down on the road beside my car, the lonely pack just begging to be picked up by some random young bucks with a few drinks under their belts and eyes for opportunity.

Why was I so worried? The pack had my $700 phone in it, with all my emails, messages, banking apps, social media accounts, wide open for anyone to access. Plus a Kindle ebook reader, worth another $100 or so, and my $150 custom musician’s earplugs. Assorted other small items, discount cards, and my last copy of a book out of print. The main concern, as my worry built, went beyond the immediate losses, into financial and identity theft. Add the risk of an endless long distance phone bill; a spending spree on Google Play; even access to account and credit card numbers…

I played one more tune in the jam, now halfhearted, and headed for home, to get to my computer to change passwords and try to limit the damage. Pulling away from the scene, the reality hit me: I’m screwed. I’m a victim of my own stupidity, and magical thinking is not going to make it otherwise.

No matter if I was cruising on a tack of, “Oh everything’s going great lately.” Shit happens. Now just deal with it; it’s not the end of the world, after all. Just a huge hassle. Go out and get a new phone, set it up, rebuild contacts somehow; buy a new Kindle and load it from the cloud; go buy a new pack, maybe new earplugs of a cheaper variety this time…

On the computer, home after midnight, first order of business was to change my Google password. Once logged in, I happened to see some other options, including tracking a lost phone. I didn’t remember setting up any “Find my Phone” app, but was surprised to find quickly that Google was already tracking my phone, and in fact could pinpoint its current location to within twelve meters of accuracy. It showed a target near Quadra Village, coincidentally across the street from where my evening’s journey had started. But I knew at least I had carried my phone with me the whole evening.

So there it was, in a house or apartment—two different tracking options showed different buildings in the same block, as the phone’s current destination. Now to thwart the culprits. I saw to my delight that Google provided an option to remotely lock the device, even display a message such as, “Give me back my f***ing phone. Call xxx-yyyy.” Better yet, another option was to erase everything on the phone to a factory reset. In the heady mixture of panic and hope, I chose that kill switch. Still on my computer, I verified that nothing seemed amiss with my accounts, and then called the police. It was after 2 a.m.

“Oh, we can’t go around knocking on doors for something like that,” the policewoman told me. “And we don’t advise you to, either. Especially with St. Patrick’s Day and all. Best thing is to call and report your missing bag to the RCMP.”

Humph. Some help that was. I thought at least I should go take a look at the lay of the land over there in the target neighborhood. Maybe there was a dumpster there where I could find my pack. So I took a spin and walked around. One of the buildings was a large apartment building; the other option was one of a row of houses behind the apartments. In the dark I had no real leads and went home to go to bed. The phone location was no longer showing up on Google, but at least I had printouts of the earlier maps.

Still agitated over my stupidity for the whole ordeal to happen in the first place; the hassle and expense and time it was going to take to replace everything to that paradisiacal state of normal working order that my life and its digital facsimile, my phone, were in prior to this mishap; and my vague options for finding the phone in the morning… I went to bed, for a few hours of restless sleep.

In the morning I awoke and discovered that by erasing the phone to factory reset, I had removed all my data but also the temporary lock and even the location finder; so now I was worse off, in a sense, than before. Now the thieves could use the phone to rack up long distance charges, and still reload apps and enter them under my name if they had captured any email addresses or passwords. And I could no longer locate the phone if it got moved.

I called Rogers, my cell provider, and was pleased to hear they could block the service and also blacklist the phone so it could not be used with any provider in Canada; it would now be nothing but, the agent told me, “a glorified MP3 player and camera.”

Finally, I thought: what the heck, biker gang or not, I’m going to try knocking on the house door, at least; play nice, maybe offer them thirty bucks to just give me back the f***ing phone. Took my map in hand, as evidence, and arrived at the decent post-St. Paddy’s time of ten thirty in the morning to knock at the door.

It’s Bruce and Jill, whom I had been talking with briefly at the party before they left—with my bag, by mistake. They had never answered the call from Marg. And never clued in they had the wrong bag, still sitting at the end of the hallway behind them, precisely where Google had it located. “So sorry! Want to come in and have a cappuccino?”

Just like that, I had my phone, my bag, my life back. Like magic.

The moral of the story? I look back at my mindset at the party. Despite Marg’s practical measures of phoning around to those who could have gone away with the pack by mistake, I made the judgment call that my own forgetfulness was a more likely scenario, leaving the pack exposed on the road. In choosing that option I gave into fear, of a clear loss with no hope of recovery.

I was biased by meeting a friend earlier that evening who talked about having her backpack (and phone) stolen from her car the previous week, broken into in a downtown parkade. That fear remained right until the end, when I expected some crackhead to come to the door telling me he didn’t know nothin’ about no f***ing pack. Or worse.

In the grip of fear, our minds close to the realistic avenues of hope and find refuge only in wishful thinking: “If only I hadn’t…” “Maybe if I look in the car a fourth time, this time the pack will appear in the back seat…”

I hoped for, and discounted magic at the same time. It was me against the hidden adversary, and I didn’t stand much of a chance. The best outcome I could then hope for, defeated, would be to pull myself back up by the bootstraps, $1000 poorer, and start over.

If I had just waited, trusted, meditated, changed a password or two just in case, it would have all worked out—Jill and Bruce would have realized their error, contacted Marg or me—and the pack would have found its own way back to me… as if by magic.

Postscript, one week later:

More phone problems. I spent the morning troubleshooting with Google and Rogers, after returning from Salt Spring, out of cell range, and the network service never returned. I remembered dropping the phone at some point—not serious, I had thought at the time; but now I noticed a nick on the corner near the SIM card slot.

Now I’ve really done it. Deep breath. S**t happens, after all.

Post-postscript, two days later:

This time I took the rest of the day off, and awoke this morning calm, resigned to my fate: try to get the damaged phone repaired somewhere, somehow, or bite the bullet and buy a new one, as I had prepared to do last week. Resolved to go to Rogers at the Bay Centre at ten sharp when they opened, unlike yesterday when I went to the Hillside Mall outlet and two harried employees were backlogged, and a disconsolate old man sitting by the front counter saw me standing around and said, “I’ve been waiting a long time.”

Sure enough, I nabbed the single employee at the Bay Centre upon opening. Told him that Rogers tech support had run through the options and had one final suggestion, to try my SIM card in another phone.

The clerk did it one better, also switching his SIM card to my phone.

Presto, they both worked!

How was that possible, when I had already tried removing it to try in my older phone, but the size was wrong so I put it back in, with the same result, no service. But now, service!?

Magic happens.

Masterpiece of the week, times two: a brief review

Mary Karrs, Liars’ Club – David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

What is it that marks the greatness of these two writers? — Karr, telling with raw courage her childhood in a soul-taxing East Texas; Mitchell, writing lives within lives and books within books, in this ultra-novel novel that inspired the inspiring movie.

They are all in. There is no playing nice with cardboard language, it is all guts and demarcation of verbal innovation at every turn. Yet, a compulsive consistency in voice in character, whether narration or dialogue, interior/exterior, Texan or postapocalyptic, learned or simply articulate in the marrow of individuality.

Political-correct is out of its depth here.  We go to the heart of the matter, at any level of truth or stage-play, set-up or exposition.  There is no stray static, no leaking gas. The engine is purring silently, weaving us to our destination.

Or rather, in the case of Cloud Atlas, it’s a thundering, intricate, Russian-doll / Chinese-box, six-cylinder Persian carpet. A literary masterpiece, in the best sense: breathtaking mastery of language in variety of genres, voices, eras, all convincing within each of of the six interlocking story lines.

And what better message for our times, than the final pages of Cloud Atlas (507–9):

My recent adventures have made me quite the philosopher, especially at night, when I hear naught but the stream grinding boulders into pebbles through an unhurried eternity. My thoughts flow thus. Scholars discern motions in history & formulate these motions into rules that govern the rises & falls of civilizations. My belief runs contrary, however. To wit: history admits no rules, only outcomes.

What precipitates outcomes? Vicious acts & virtuous acts.

What precipitates acts? Belief.

Belief is both prize & battlefield, within the mind & in the mind’s mirror, the world. If we believe humanity is a ladder of tribes, a colosseum of confrontation, exploitation & bestiality, such a humanity is surely brought into being, & history’s Horroxes, Boerhaaves & Gooses shall prevail. You & I, the moneyed, the privileged, the fortunate, shall not fare so badly in this world, provided our luck holds. What of it if our consciences itch? Why undermine the dominance of our race, our gunships, our heritage & our legacy? Why fight the “natural” (oh, weaselly word!) order of things?

Why? Because of this—one fine day, a purely predatory world shall consume itself. Yes, the Devil shall take the hindmost until the foremost is the hindmost. In an individual, selfishness uglifies the soul; for the human species, selfishness is extinction.

Is this the doom written within our nature?

If we believe that humanity may transcend tooth & claw, if we believe divers races & creeds can share this world as peaceably as the orphans share their candlenut tree, if we believe leaders must be just, violence muzzled, power accountable & the riches of the Earth & its Oceans shared equitably, such a world will come to pass. I am not deceived. It is the hardest of worlds to make real. Torturous advances won over generations can be lost by a single stroke of a myopic president’s pen or a vainglorious general’s sword.

A life spent shaping a world I want Jackson to inherit, not one I fear Jackson shall inherit, this strikes me as a life worth the living. Upon my return to San Francisco, I shall pledge myself to the Abolitionist cause, because I owe my life to a self-freed slave & because I must begin somewhere.

I hear my father-in-law’s response: “Oho, fine. Whiggish sentiments, Adam. But don’t tell me about justice! Ride to Tennessee on an ass & convince the rednecks that they are merely white-washed negroes & their negroes are black-washed Whites! Sail to the Old World, tell ’em their imperial slaves’ rights are as inalienable as the Queen of Belgium’s! Oh, you’ll grow hoarse, poor & gray in caucuses! You’ll be spat on, shot at, lynched, pacified with medals, spurned by backwoodsmen! Crucified! Naïve, dreaming Adam. He who would do battle with the many-headed hydra of human nature must pay a world of pain & his family must pay it along with him! & only as you gasp your dying breath shall you understand, your life amounted to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean!”

Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?

 

sanskrit

Arrival: Toward Nonlinear Time and Consciousness

In the film Arrival nonlinear time is understood through the structure of a language, specifically that which humans come to learn from the advanced beings who have paid a visit to our primitive time-bound planet. Theirs is ideogrammatic in form and concept, with fractal squiggles of ink delivering constellations of meaning. Inspired, I come out of the theatre wondering how English, for example, might be reprogrammed to convey the same sense of nonlinear time. Arrival uses the language of film: with cuts mid-scene, flashbacks and flashforwards, interposed with chronology. In life this understanding can be approached by synchronicity: in which forces converge to prove the apprehension of interconnectivity.

For example, as I sat through the largely actionless first half of the film, I was preoccupied with my own thoughts and feelings about relationship, a seeming distraction… until later, the film turns on a developing relationship between the two communications experts, the scientist and the linguist. A particular synchronicity appeared in the reference to the “non-zero-sum game,” one night after I had written in a blog post of the competing debates over climate change in just such terms. Was I prescient when writing those words the night before? Or I am merely aspiring to attach meaning to this random coincidence of which any person could find a similar recognition in any of the hundreds of dialogue snippets in the film? This is another ability of language: to use a particular instance to represent a universal condition.

sanskrit

 

If language can be a tool of cosmic understanding, as was attempted in the Vedas, can it also be used today as a weapon of peace, by which to blast open or subvert our conditioned minds to grasp the interconnection of all beings, the harmony of desires and common ground of multiple truths? Can this universe, this earth, this medium and this transmission of writer to reader stand for all possible universes, planets, media and conversations, embodying that feature essential to any successful communication, the transfer of understanding? Such learning might be the ultimate survival tool, which in fact, as Jared Diamond argues in The Third Chimpanzee, drove our very brain development in a period when the resulting cooperation proved essential to the species.

In further resonance with this key history of language, Diamond comes full circle to the present crossroads of history, quoted in an article (“Stay Alert, America: The Worst Is Yet to Come”) by John Whitehead, which I just read and shared prior to writing this article.

We’ve been stuck in this political Groundhog’s Day for so long that minor deviations appear to be major developments while obscuring the fact that we’re stuck on repeat, unable to see the forest for the trees.

This is what is referred to as creeping normality, or a death by a thousand cuts.

It’s a concept invoked by Pulitzer Prize-winning scientist Jared Diamond to describe how major changes, if implemented slowly in small stages over time, can be accepted as normal without the shock and resistance that might greet a sudden upheaval.

Diamond’s concerns are environmental in nature, but they are no less relevant to our understanding of how a once-free nation could willingly bind itself with the chains of dictatorship.

Writing about Easter Island’s now-vanished civilization and the societal decline and environmental degradation that contributed to it, Diamond explains, “In just a few centuries, the people of Easter Island wiped out their forest, drove their plants and animals to extinction, and saw their complex society spiral into chaos and cannibalism… Why didn’t they look around, realize what they were doing, and stop before it was too late? What were they thinking when they cut down the last palm tree?”

His answer: “I suspect that the disaster happened not with a bang but with a whimper.”

Much like America’s own colonists, Easter Island’s early colonists discovered a new world—“a pristine paradise”—teeming with life. Almost 2000 years after its first settlers arrived, Easter Island was reduced to a barren graveyard by a populace so focused on their immediate needs that they failed to preserve paradise for future generations.

This last conclusion dovetails with another film, which I saw last night, Before the Flood, which shows where we are now and we’re we’re headed if we don’t change our ways of living and our way of thinking—toward the eco-dystopia of Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood.

Indeed, my only hope as a wielder of language is that the skillful use of this tool will make possible wider and deeper understanding of what is possible, beyond the limits of our conventional bounded reality, personal and collective; a felt appreciation of the sacred beauty of nature’s creation, and of the possibility and necessity of living in harmony with it, and our fellow creatures, in body and spirit.

 

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)