Z-anon-sensei Speaks #64
“Here’s the shoe,” Chick said, “But there’s no foot in it.” OU Levon
Operation ^StoryLine has put much of its effort into creating specific emotional states in the subjects of its narrative experiments. Sadness, nostalgia, fear, and sexual arousal each have different effects on the receptiveness of the subject to the insertion of ^darkpower ^mythmemes, which is, of course, the real purpose of the project.
Of special interest to the more mystically-leaning researchers are states of a quasi-religious nature: surrender, trance, and especially the condition or experience known as epiphany. Epiphany, in their prevailing theory, holds a particular power because it links intellectual insight with emotional excitement and produces a measurable bodily response. There is a physical thrill at the moment of epiphany: the heart-rate increases, blood pressure rises, dopa- and various other -mines and -lines flood the brain and limbic system. In its most powerful expressions, epiphany creates a sensation that combines flying and falling, a rushing joy of release from tension and gravity, a surrender both sensual and spiritual, an understanding so deep that it can neither be spoken aloud nor remembered fully once the moment of insight has passed. James Joyce correctly identified epiphany as the dark heart of the art of story-telling, but so many readers mistake his idea to mean an epiphany by a character within the story. In fact, it is the experience of the reader, the moment Dickinson described as feeling “as if the top of my head were taken off” that is the real meaning of epiphany. Authors such as James and Zimmerman have pointed out the religious nature of this epiphanic experience of language and image. Addictive drugs can have much the same effect, leaving the user at the brink of an insight they never quite achieve, a condition of blissful near-wisdom that “just one more hit” will finally actualize, though it never really does. Epiphanies fade, stories end, and drugs wear off. Replicating this experience, and maintaining it, can become an obsession to the epiphany addict, whether that person is a monk in search of enlightenment, a literary scholar lost in Borges’ library, a coke head sucking on a crack pipe, or a simple TV viewer desperate for the next episode of a favorite sitcom.
Addiction to conspiracy thinking looks very much like this addiction to epiphany. Like the crack addict and the religious seeker, the “researcher” gets always closer and closer to an overwhelming truth that finally can never quite be revealed. It’s as though a spiritual Zeno’s dichotomy paradox were at work, each step toward wisdom covering only half the remaining distance to the final answer, the seeker always moving forward but never reaching the object of their obsession, the moment of epiphany that would end their search in an ultimate, overwhelming truth.
Obsession with conspiracy theory is as old as human history. Even in ancient Sumerian myth, the gods conspire to flood the earth and destroy humankind. But the conspiracy phenomenon in modern society has grown exponentially as a result of the expansion of the NSS and its endless categories of secrecy and classification. Security classification and governmental secrecy create guesses and theories about the truth in direct proportion to the extent of their usage. The equation is a simple correspondence, no quantum calculations required. The more government secrets, the more conspiracy theories proliferate. And the frequent revelations of real-life government conspiracies has only added to the conspiracy frame of mind now dominating the American public, the sense that anything is possible, everything is hidden, and the truth is still out there. Media such as TV shows and news organizations have profited from this trend, and in a process of feedback have increased it to Covid-19-like epidemic status. Government agencies have learned to use the conspiracy frame of mind, encourage it even, in order to further mask certain truths they wished to keep hidden. For example, secret aviation research can be hidden behind a shimmering curtain of UFO visitations, the blame for real-life government plots can be passed on to the mythical Illuminati, and real assassinations can be pinned on dark, shadowy conspirators. And will be.