If this is about the rabid monkeys hurling their shit around, well, they’ve gone over the wall. Now, where was I? Oh yes, …
I admit that there are times when I feel that my way of seeing the world is like staring into a thick, dark bank of smog, and that the modern world appears to be systematically fashioned to perplex me. If I was being honest, there are moments where I feel the sudden weightless and sickly feeling of missing a step. Like tripping over in a fugue state, as I drop to sleep. I do not believe that I am alone in this sensation and while I believe speculation is important, I have an innate suspicion towards those who feel conviction enough to never question their beliefs, or those of the society they live within. Especially those convictions built on a foundation other than personal experience and observation. Yet, even then, we are told that memories lie and we cannot rely on our own internal movie.
It is commonplace to stand under the golden shower of contradictory information with our mouths open, waiting to be the first to taste the brand new easily-forgotten narrative of the week while allowing ourselves to be swallowed up in the ever-shifting cultural sands. Reality is dancing towards the head of pin, where all relevant information is instantly as redundant as yesterday’s news in a clash between the primal urge to consume and the scarcity of tangible experiences. The confusion is enough to undermine any certainty that life has thrown against us to see if it sticks. That the fragile theatre set has yet to fall down upon our heads is a constant and pleasant surprise.
A cinematic expression of the muddleheaded funk foisted upon us occurs in the trope of the crisis of identity for protagonists in neo-noir films, using all manner of psychological sickness from amnesia (Memento, 2002) to repressed or split personalities (Fight Club, 1999) and suppressed memories (Blade Runner, 1982/Shutter Island, 2010). All of the poor bastards who end up as main characters in one of the darkest and delirious sub-genres in film are forced into an investigation that climaxes in a confrontation with the naked truth of their souls as the world they have created around themselves collapses like the painted cardboard city it really is. Whether the catalyst is a “cigarette burn“, or an origami unicorn. As the walls inside their heads tumble, there is a single moment in each film where that dread confusion crosses their faces. In the aftermath of this personal apocalypse, some let the fantasy engulf them once more as the knowledge of reality is too heavy to bear, others run howling mad down the corridors of the new found prison of truth.
Yet like a neo-noir plot, a man may quietly wonder in an act of rebellious speculation in front of his computer screen, at how purposefully might the consensual bafflement be directed? To what end would a real life nasty Keyser Söze encourage society to be hoodwinked into a head spin for?
The famous hypnotherapist, Milton Erickson, once said :
“In all my techniques, almost all, there is a confusion”.
Erickson had discovered than when a habit or common pattern is broken from the way it has always played out before, then the baffled subject is momentarily dazed and the desperate mind grasps around frantically for any relief of certainty to hang on to, just long enough for someone to exploit. Whether that person be a benign therapist with your best interests at heart, a Russian thief, or someone in authority ready to manipulate society’s lack of direction.
Last year, the British documentary maker, Adam Curtis, produced a short film for the BBC’s satirical series Newswipe on the avant garde art world’s influence on Russian politics and the parallels to our own that seems to encapsulate Erickson’s disorientating formula. As Curtis ominously declares at the climax :
… it means that we as individuals become ever more powerless, unable to challenge anything, because we live in a state of confusion and uncertainty. To which the response is ‘Oh Dear‘. But that’s what they want you to say.
The effect of the bafflement is (surprise, surprise) manipulation, compliance and control in order to maintain the experimental narrative and thereby perpetuating the broken crony-capitalistic system and all the crimes of necessity that keep it functioning while it gobbles down its own tail. Yet, I suspect that if it is not all just an opportunistic grab as the chance presents itself, that no one, not the ancient and canny investor, the educated multilingual MI6 agent, nor the ambitious suited sociopathic trader, really has the faintest fucking clue of what is actually going on in an increasing complex and bewildering geopolitical world, where, like chaos theory, an economic dying butterfly flapping its wings in Greece can give American stock markets an attack of indigestion. That the big shits at the top whisper their fear in the dead of night into clean white cotton pillows. That neurotic fear, masked with cocaine and power, is the sweat drenched nightmare that someday somebody lets the cat out of the bag, when the world finds out that they are all just pretending and the little emperors do indeed have no clothes.
Move along now, people. Nothing to see here. Just a troop of rabid monkeys, throwing feces and leaping over a wall.