Thursday, April 28, 2011

Parallel Hives

Comment threads make me wet for the divine right of kings. Toxic levels of idiocy, piety, hatred, and warmongering run deep online, primarily at news sites (Yahoo is among the worst). I used to blast those hiding behind screen tags, calling them cowards for failing to show their true faces. But now I realize that anonymity is for the best. Better to think of them as fictional constructs rather than real people spouting vile opinions.

That's my concession to fantasy. Make believe softens the horror of being powerless in a corporate state. Recall that in Network, Howard Beale's top-rated TV show plummets in the ratings once Beale begins reciting the theories of his boss, Arthur Jensen. Beale's appeals to populist anger and action give his audience hope, however slight. After Jensen explains how the world really works and for whom, Beale loses his spark, his viewers, then his life. People need connection, crave relevance, desire some measure of power. Given present realities, fantasy is to be expected.

Corporate outlets eagerly assist in the process, peddling narratives that in a truly democratic society would be mocked if noted at all. When watching CNN or Fox, I wonder who buys such cheap, poorly-scripted propaganda. It's more self reinforcement for the educated classes than indoctrination of the lower orders, most of whom don't even watch cable news. Still, the fantasy remains for all: We The People matter. We are exceptional, unique, envied. Foreclosure and unemployment are part of freedom's price. War spreads our goodness to captive nations. Killing shows we care.

Recent Libya threads at various sites reveal the fantasy spectrum. Pro-interventionists believe they are resisting tyranny. Anti-interventionists believe they are defending radical sovereignty. That neither camp has any influence over events matters little. It's like playing flag football thinking that NFL scouts are watching. Yet, one must have a position. And when you take a position, you own the imaginary baggage that comes with it.

Take mass murder. Gaddafi's actual crimes aren't enough for supporters of drone attacks: they point to nonexistent massacres to bolster their arguments. If you don't cheer on aerial assaults, you have the blood of unmurdered thousands on your hands. How do they know this? Well, they apparently have access to a parallel universe where these massacres took place. They've seen the carnage and know who's responsible for it. Oddly enough, it's the people who hold opposing opinions.

Those opposed claim to know how Libya will be carved up and sold. Oil companies will run the show while imperial troops and mercenaries slaughter resisters. The US, which essentially lost the Iraq war and is barely hanging on in Afghanistan, will magically get it right in Libya. In a sense, these radicals share the patriots' view of an omnipotent America, whose influence over events increases in proportion to the alienation of those making claims. The real world is too chaotic and contradictory for comfort. Absolutist arguments help smooth things out; fantasy provides the glaze.

Obvious? Boring? Guilty. But then I'm back in isolation, facing countless blank pages. The little boy with a crew cut and cape awaits further adventures. I can't let the kid down, though I wince at what he'll face near the end of the volume. Putting it off by writing posts like this merely delays the inevitable. Good thing that boy's got a head full of fantasies. He'll need them.