It stands to reason that any communiqué should lead with the most interesting and compelling part. But here’s the rub: the most interesting and compelling part of what I am up to is something someone else is doing.
Look at it this way: a good spice doesn’t draw attention to itself but rather to the tastiness of the dish. At the same time, that dish gives the spice its meaning, purpose, and raison d’etre.
Last Sunday, Dave Oshana hosted an event called Dissolution & Inevitability: When Things Finally Fall Apart. This is what Dave said about the event:
This meeting was exceptional. Nothing has ever happened like this except on retreats. Dark heavy taboo themes require a light humorous touch before the drum roll and a climatic thunder and lightning finale. Not for the easily offended.
This is what I said about it:
“A near-miraculous balance of inspiration with provocation that fused the two styles into a perfect blend of spicy & sweet; apocalyptically affirming, perhaps heralding a new prophet-genre: doom & joy?”
There’s a replay of the event on Saturday, 1st February at 2pm London time, 9am Boston/NYC time, 8am Minneapolis/Chicago time, 6am San Francisco-Vancouver time, and 1am Next Day Sydney time. More info and how to book here.
On Tuesday Jan 21, I did an impromptu 80-minute YouTube event called “Hell Doesn’t Want You,” the recording from which is here (I start talking at 5:30 mins). For those either with limited time or patience, below is a 16 min edit, below which is a mostly faithful transcript for those who prefer reading.
For years, I have been aware of this bizarre contradiction in myself: that I want somehow to get known for alerting the world to its impending end, for being a herald of the apocalypse. I’m not really heralding the apocalypse anymore, at least not in such an overt way, but still, the absurd irony of wanting to make a name for myself by heralding the apocalypse hopefully speaks for itself.
I recently wrote (and rewrote, and rewrote again, maybe a dozen times or more) a pitch for my most recently completed book Maps of Hell, which I have subtitled “The Hollywood Occupation of the Global Psyche.” I keep changing the title and the subtitle, however, trying to package it to make it acceptable to publishers. This varies, depending on who I’m speaking to, whose mind I’m theorizing about. This is the latest description:
The transformative effect of visual media on human consciousness has been easily as great as that of the printing press. Nor has this transformation been undirected: for decades a shadowy cultural elite has been applying the evolving media technology to shape the global psyche and occupy the landscape of our unconscious. Since the early days of Hollywood propaganda, their manufactured narratives have spilled over the edges of the movie screen, into politics, science, academia, and journalism, slowly stripping us of our sense of reality and robbing us of all values besides “Hollywood” values. Now in 2020, the screen tech has reached the state of the art, making separating entertainment from entrainment all but impossible. Without ever fully recognizing it, we have been seduced into complicity with an imagistic empire, lured into mass infantilization and cultural-enthrallment, and afflicted with an as-yet undiagnosed condition of “propaganda-derangement syndrome.”
Fortunately, in our struggle to awaken from a generational spell, features of the nightmare landscape have begun to creep into view. Maps of Hell combines in-depth Hollywood case studies with acute cultural analysis to assemble a lens through which the dark under layer of the entertainment industry—and its true purpose—can be seen. By closely mapping our collectively-assembled societal Hell, it offers the means to extract ourselves from the enchantments of a dark technological sorcery.
This is going to be a difficult book for many people, not because it’s so complex or so intellectual, but because what it’s arguing is so unpalatable. I was recently reading Jacques Ellul’s Propaganda, and he makes the very interesting point that we need propaganda, that human beings are addicted to it. There is a necessity for propaganda not only on the part of “the State,” he argues, but on the part of “We the People” as well. Ellul believed that we need something to give us a sense of meaning and purpose now in life, because we’ve been made so aware of how we exist as part of a collective, while at the same time being so reified as individuals. Our sense of meaninglessness becomes overwhelming in that context.
If the individual is all-important, if we are all-important, yet at the same time, if we only really know ourselves as part of a mass collective, if we’re constantly having our individuality reified and emphasized within the context of its insignificance, our existential terror can only increase. So we desperately need propaganda to give us a sense of meaning, purpose and direction; and the more we take it, the more addicted we get to it. I know this to be true in my own case because, as much as I discover and reveal to myself about Hollywood and narrative media, the more acutely aware of how addicted to it I am, but not in a way that I’m stopping using it. It’s like I can’t live without it.
One analogy I’ve used in my pitches is that of the Ray Ban glasses from They Live: if you put them on, you will see society as it really is. I won’t say reality, this book is not going to get anyone enlightened, but you will see society as it is, at least while you’re wearing them, at least while you’re reading the book. That’s how it was for me, at least, writing it and reading it back:
“Oh my God, we’re surrounded by ghouls!”
The whole of society is a confluence of forces that we think of as culture but that is really propaganda. We’re moving through a propagandized medium of awareness. It’s a sorcerers’ realm, it’s been engineered through sorcery, and the nature of the sorcery is that we’re the batteries: our consciousness is used as the raw material to shape the world and to create the propaganda, the narratives, that then imbue us with meaning and purpose and action. They mobilize us into the way we live our lives. So we are the world that’s been created, that’s been pulled over our own eyes.
How do you turn that into a theory that can be summed up and understood in a few lines? It can’t be done. This is a strange thing, because apparently there are tens or hundreds of thousands of people out there who are into Jan Irving and Jay Dyer and Dave McGowan, and God knows how many other YouTube channels talking about the same kinds of things. And then, in the more mainstream camp, there is Edward Bernays and Jacques Ellul and Adam Curtis, which means people are interested in what I’m writing about.
The problem seems to be that I’m trying to bring together two areas, or two perspectives. One is the marginal perspective of “Reptilian conspiracy theories” that is only respectable if it’s fictionalized and made metaphor by They Live or The Matrix: this deep sorcerous view of society that is represented in a literal or a non-fictional fashion mostly by writers and communicators I don’t consider reliable (for various different reasons I won’t get into). And I’m not particularly persona grata in that world, because I’m really questioning those narratives. And then, on the other hand, there is the more respected “intelligentsia,” and I’m actually trying to reach those people, because the other demographic seems just too easy to please.
The challenge is: can I present something that even Guardian readers would be able to follow along with and understand and believe—if, to quote William Blake, “Truth can never be told so as to be understood, and not be believed”? And I do cite The Guardian a lot in this book, because I go as much as possible to sources that are mainstream and considered reliable. This is ironic, because the case I’m making is that you can’t trust any of these sources, and in this other field, The Guardian is not seen as a reliable source because it’s part of “the Conspiracy,” it’s part of the propaganda machinery. And of course, I think it is, but . . . it’s complicated. It’s complicated because, actually, the standard of reporting, of writing and of analysis, is better over here in the mainstream with the Guardian readers and academic presses and so on, than it is over here in David Icke land. There are exceptions, however, and I guess I’m trying to be one of those exceptions.
This book was meant to be the last nail in the coffin of my Hell-map, so I could send it out for a burial by sea. Now I’ve discovered for myself, and I’ve laid out for myself, all the evidence I need to recognize the configuration of the hell within and the hell without, it’s time to turn away. The map includes the exit, so let’s just go through the exit and I can write about something else. That was where I was hoping, where I am hoping, to get to, as of 2020: a new vision. We all want closure, we want a nice, tidy Hollywood ending, and I wanted, I want, this book to be effective, to feel fully satisfied that it has been delivered in the right way, not via some awful hospital birth that leaves the poor thing alone in its crib for 24 hours, traumatized and numb. There’s a parallel: this book represents part of my psyche and I’m experiencing the vulnerability of the potentially traumatic first encounter between my psyche and the world.
Participatory democracy is something that I think used to be the nature of community and how communities used to function, before the aggrandizers took over completely and created a global village—which is a global dictatorship, with AI as the eye in the pyramid. And this is a limited hangout, the internet and the system of the world, with AI as our new overlord, regulating our internal responses and mobilizing our every decision and action. It’s a limited proposition; with or without Peak Oil, environmental collapse, or climate change, it’s not going to continue much longer. At least, that’s my optimistic view.
Because if it were to continue much longer, I don’t know if there would be any hope for us. And I do believe there is hope for us, that there is something in the human body, in the human soul, in nature, and in the world itself, that intervenes at the point of no return and saves us from ourselves. I believe that there is a salvation mechanism to creation. But if we get saved and we’re not ready to turn away from the world that we need saving from, it’s going to be very rude an awakening. So be it, if it is; but if you know that somebody’s going to come in and pour ice water on you in five minutes, why not just get up and make it a pleasant experience?
That’s my question—for myself.
The next Dave Oshana live meet is called “Mind your Head: Entering the Minotaur’s Mental Labyrinth,” & has the tagline: “To lose hell, all hell has to break loose from the subconscious.” Hope to see you there: & bring your map!