02 May 2011

The Truth Out There

There is, it seems, one and only one news story today. And damn if Carl didn't nail my waking thoughts exactly, what popped into my head as the wall-to-wall coverage roused me out of bed when the alarm went off this morning. We've had Truthers and Birthers, neither of which will ever be satisfied no matter what, always retreating into more assuredly byzantine and convoluted theories and narratives. So of course the next big wave in all of this is going to be Corpsers.

All of which I've seen today convincing me that I really need to go back to an old rule of mine -- the one about always ignoring the Comments section. The endless stacking of conspiracy theory on conspiracy theory, and the escalating rabidity all around. There's a general estimation in clinical circles that about 14% of the gen population suffers from one form of mental illness or another. But when you're scrolling through the Comments section of many sites, you'd swear it more like 40%, easily. Just fucking pretend that it doesn't even exist.

Batting around the latest round of theories with a journo friend, he responds with, "I think they made up the whole bit about burial at sea to hide the fact that he’s been stuffed and mounted. He’s currently hanging on the wall in Area 51, right next to Obama’s secret Kenyan birth certificate."

Of course. And the Twin Towers were hollow and had been for years, and were merely felled by a pair of lightweight missiles cloaked with holograms. And Obama just produced the clarly fraudulent document that's going to hang his by his gonads. And this is why I never turn the lights on, because light bulbs emit rays, and if you don't know what that means, then you're living in a darkness that's even deeper than the type I live in, my friend.

Anyway. So it seems all too fitting that The Atlantic pops up with this pair of items right now. First, a bit on Roswell, NM as a "postmodern tourism" destination...

What we end up with instead is something artificial that says a lot more about who we are as a culture—Las Vegas, for example. The city built by mobsters in the middle of the Nevada desert is a paradoxical monument to our hubris and a reflection of our baser instincts. It's a testament to the addictive power of gambling. No longer content to define their own Western American interpretation of utopia, newer Vegas casinos have been mimicking international cities such as Paris, Venice, and New York City. In the process, Las Vegas is transforming into an oversized Potemkin village that exists as an imitation of other cities. At some point someone will build a Las Vegas-themed casino, completing the circle of absurdity.

Simultaneously experiencing and interpreting Las Vegas in this way is, in a sense, postmodern tourism. Or one manifestation of it, since postmodernism doesn't really have a fixed definition. Postmodern tourism is one part viewing the world through the lens of symbol and illusion, one part personal interest, and one part ironic detachment. It might mean visiting Roswell, New Mexico, not for the history of alien visitation, but for the spectacle of American alien fascination.

And then the author goes on to cite both Walter Benjamin and Jean Baudrillard on the matter, between citing the recent popularity of urban exploration. Overreaching perhaps for a publication like The Atlantic, and somehow still largely reducing "postmodernism" to a matter of mere irony.

The above trails another piece via The Atlantic Wire on recently declassified docs released online by the FBI, some of which involve a number of Roswell-related items, as well as a file on Project Bluebook. The files come by way of the FBI's Vault, in the "Unexplained Phenomenon" category. Also of interest might be some of what appears in the "Popular Culture" division, where you can check out files on Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Steve McQueen, Malcolm X, Bettie Page, Lenny Bruce, Senator Joe McCarthy, Colonel Sanders, KISS, Michael Jackson, Tiny Tim, Helen Keller, and a many others. There's also docs on a number of notable American authors from the 20th century. (Unsurprisingly, Nelson Algren's isn't among them. Many years ago I read that Algren's file dwarfed -- for whatever reason -- those of Hemingway and most of the other authors the Bureau had investigated.)


W. Kasper said...

??? I thought Colonel Sanders was a fictional logo like Uncle Ben or Ronald Macdonald?

One big question we can expect to hear: Did Bin Laden actually exist in the first place? He was suspiciously photogenic and well-presented for a supposed madman who lived in caves (some of his photos have a greeting card sheen to them).

Greyhoos said...

Naw, dude...the Colonel was real!

As far as bin Laden being fictional: Carl's thing about him having been little more than an invention of the CIA? It's been a while since I've heard that one, but I do remember hearing it years ago.

W. Kasper said...

Well, terrorism certainly exists, but I've always been suspicious of the notion that 'Al-Quaida' suddenly cornered the entire market in a hostile takeover (especially since so many other countries have used that 'brand' to justify respective clampdowns - Russia, Indonesia etc.).

Baader-Meinhoff was only a gang, but even they couldn't agree on basic stuff. If Osama did exist, other terrorists probably thought "what an asshole" instead of "we shall do your bidding, old man of the mountain!"

But then, I still think the Unabomber was a stitch-up. Hard to believe anything politicians, spies and cops say. They're paid to lie!

Greyhoos said...

I very much doubt that Kaczynski was any sort of stitch-up. But if you want to start play a conspiracy theory edition of "Celebrity Cellmates," did you know that McVeigh and Ted Kaczynski were briefly cellmates at the Florence, CO federal pen?

(Bonus Round: Lyndon LaRouche and the Rev. Jim Baker were, too. LaRouche reputedly hated it, complaining that Baker got "too many visitors.")

W. Kasper said...

And Colonel Sanders is alive and well in Argentina, working as a chef for Elvis...

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