The Reign of the Fissure Kings, or: “Psyops ‘R’ Us” (Psychological Operatives in Hollywood # 6a)

“On one occasion, so it was narrated, Stalin called for a live chicken and proceeded to use it to make an unforgettable point before some of his henchmen. Forcefully clutching the chicken in one hand, with the other he began to systematically pluck out its feathers. As the chicken struggled in vain to escape, he continued with the painful denuding until the bird was completely stripped. ‘Now you watch,’ Stalin said as he placed the chicken on the floor and walked away with some breadcrumbs in his hand. Incredibly, the fear-crazed chicken hobbled toward him and clung to the legs of his trousers. Stalin threw a handful of grain to the bird, and it began to follow him around the room, he turned to his dumbfounded colleagues and said quietly, ‘This is the way to rule the people.’” — Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God

The tendency of power—in the sociological sense of status, influence, authority and control—is to seek to extend itself over time, if possible indefinitely, by whatever means necessary. The question of benevolence and malevolence is secondary—even irrelevant—to this tendency, since everyone from Satan on down believes in the goodness of his or her motivations and whatever motivates us is ipso facto “good,” and vice versa. What is relevant is the means power employs to extend itself, and the ways in which this may be observable in our culture, society, and, most importantly, our personal lives.

Advertising and economic expansion provide a fairly good template, I think, for mapping these means. In the case of advertising, perception management and behavior modification are primary both as ends and means, since to manage perception is to modify behavior, and vice versa. The goals of any given psychological operation may change according to the agencies creating them; but it’s my impression that the methodologies remain fairly constant.

We all know (or think we do) that corporations and their algorithms manipulate our perceptions in order to influence our decisions (what we buy, consume, watch, “like,” or recommend to others). Through means subtle and coarse, corporations work day and night to exploit our values as a means to sell their products to us. At the same time, in a circular fashion, they design and direct their products to shape and mold our values, to make those values, and by extension us, more easily exploitable. The aim, however, is always the same: to get us “on-side.”

As above so below: as corporations operate, so do governments, military, intelligence, educational, legal, medical, and all other institutions. The higher up the sociocultural strata we go, the less easily identifiable the products become: a candidate, an administration, a policy, an ideology, a culture, these can all be seen—to one degree or another—as products, manufactured carriers of values that are themselves carried by the values we already possess—or are possessed by. All these things act as delivery devices to inject both our inner and outer worlds with their contents. One way or another, they in-form us.

In order for a ruling class or body to maintain and increase its power and influence in the world, it has to persuade ever larger numbers of people to depend on it. Love and worship are optimal attitudes, but where these cannot be inspired, fear and subjugation will do, as demonstrated by the afore-cited anecdote about Stalin and the chicken.

 

Psychological Operations Field Manuals

Once upon a time, the “psyop” or psychological operation was the stuff of “conspiracy theory;” now (surely) it is the stuff of history, even if still mostly relegated to the media margins and the footnotes of official history. What follows are some passages taken from U.S. military Field Manual, FM 3-05.30 MCRP 3-40.6, dated April 2005, “Psychological Operations” (emphasis added).

PSYOP are a vital part of the broad range of United States (U.S.) diplomatic, informational, military, and economic (DIME) activities. The employment of any element of national power, particularly the military element, has always had a psychological dimension. Foreign perceptions of U.S. military capabilities are fundamental to strategic deterrence. The effectiveness of deterrence hinges on U.S. ability to influence the perceptions of others. The purpose of PSYOP is to induce or reinforce foreign attitudes and behavior favorable to U.S. national objectives. PSYOP are characteristically delivered as information for effect, used during peacetime and conflict, to inform and influence. (p. 1-1)

This underscores the essentiality of psyop to government and military maintenance of power. Keep in mind that, while the emphasis on foreign target audiences implies that psyop are not implemented domestically, this is almost certainly a misrepresentation of truth because of the classified nature of domestic psyop.

The mission of PSYOP is to influence the behavior of foreign target audiences (TAs) to support U.S. national objectives. PSYOP accomplish this by conveying selected information and/or advising on actions that influence the emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign audiences. Behavioral change is at the root of the PSYOP mission. Although concerned with the mental processes of the TA, it is the observable modification of TA behavior that determines the mission success of PSYOP. . . . PSYOP help shape both the physical and informational dimensions of the battlespace. (p. 1-2)

Once again, to manage perception is to modify behavior. In a certain sense, influencing a Target Audience’s psychology is secondary to the shaping of their behavior, but in another sense it is primary, since the only means to change behavior is by altering perceptions. On the other hand, the only way to confirm that perception has been successfully managed is by observing the effective modification of behaviors. Psychological operations proceed on the understanding that, not just human society but awareness itself (informational dimensions), is a battlespace.

Even as one plan is about to be executed, planners are turning their attention to the next anticipated operation. Flexibility, adaptability, and adjustment are critical to all planning. The importance of adjusting PSYOP plans and series in response to events in the battlespace cannot be overemphasized. PSYOP planners must be agile to be successful in an environment that has simultaneous and competing requirements to plan for an event that is in itself an ongoing process. At any given moment, PSYOP forces may be disseminating messages while military forces are executing a PSYACT in support of PSYOP objectives. (5-1)

This passage points to the necessity of constant improvisation within the field. It indicates how, as a Target Audience’s perception of reality is altered via manufactured “messages,” their behaviors will also change in ways that can’t be predicted with 100% accuracy by the controlling forces. Since, presumably, there is no clear dividing line between passive media manipulation and that of live-action theater (in which psychological operatives interact more directly with Target Audiences), to some degree, the Target Audience is itself shaping the nature of the psyop by forcing it to adapt to the very changes it is bringing about. In marketing, this is similar to the old “supply and demand” question, a mutually reinforcing feedback loop in which the one is constantly creating and augmenting the other.

“Most PSYOP activities and accomplishments in Panama were hardly noticed by either the U.S. public or the general military community. But the special operations community did notice. The lessons learned in Panama were incorporated into standing operating procedures. . . . Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM employed PSYOP of an order of magnitude and effectiveness which many credit to the lessons learned from Panama.” USSOCOM Report, “Psychological Operations in Panama during Operations JUST CAUSE and PROMOTE LIBERTY,” March 1994. (5-1)

This passage is self-explanatory and conveys how every psyop serves not only to manipulate a Target Audience but also as a form of field-testing for psychological operatives to learn from and pass information back and forth, thereby improving their skills and methods and becoming ever more “operational.” Another way of stating this might be to say that, with each effective psyop, the battlespace of human society and human awareness is becoming ever more “secured.”

As one of the five core elements, PSYOP integrate their activities with those of electronic warfare (EW), military deception, OPSEC [operations security], and computer network operations to create a synergistic effect. PSYOP serve as a focal point for persuasion and influence strategy. PSYOP forces facilitate targeting by analyzing the various factors that affect and influence the behavior of an adversary, such as religion, ethnicity, economics, politics, culture, region, history, leadership, geography, demographics, and national interests. They use this analysis to nominate targets in order to change the behavior of TAs in order to deter conflict (whenever possible), facilitate military operations, and to support and communicate national objectives. (7-4)

This passage indicates the wide range both of technological means and of target audiences, and suggests that not merely populations but entire “disciplines” (i.e., fields of human interest and endeavor) can be “weaponized.” One way to better understand this might again be to compare it to more coarse forms of marketing, such as “product placement” when a movie or TV show is used to “sell” specific products to an audience without it consciously noticing or remembering. In this far subtler form, areas of human interest such as religion, economics, and the arts can be employed (reshaped) as carriers for the desired messages or ideologies.

Media analysis is the structured, deliberate tracking and analysis of opponent and neutral media (TV, radio, Internet, and print). Properly performed media analysis, although time-consuming and linguist-intensive, can identify trends and become predictive when the supported force considers a potentially unpopular activity. To be truly effective, media analysis must be conducted on a daily basis. PSYOP units usually do not have the organic personnel sufficient to accomplish this task. The TAAD [Target Audience Analysis Detachment] of the PDC [product development company] is best suited for conducting media analysis. (8-5)

Media analysis, like everything else when it comes to military application, has an active as well as passive aspect. Nothing the military incentive undertakes (and this would include not only the entire intelligence, legal, and police community but also to a degree the entire corporate world) is done so without the aim of aggressive application. To analyze media is to understand how to manipulate media; ditto with human psychology, religion, science, and so forth. Central to this “will to power,” this bid for total control, is the (equally militaristic) mindset of opposition: everything gravitates around the idea of a hostile other that must be dominated, pacified, or eradicated, by any and all means necessary.

Curiously, however, the means to accomplish this requires a constant reinforcement of the idea of an “opposition”—along with the whole-cloth invention of designated (and usually controlled) oppositions. This suggests that the split which psyop is constantly attempting to generate—both within society and human awareness—is a projection of a split within the psychological operatives themselves.

It is a veritable wound that never heals.

(Continued next week)

22 thoughts on “The Reign of the Fissure Kings, or: “Psyops ‘R’ Us” (Psychological Operatives in Hollywood # 6a)”

  1. What the psyopters don’t realize is that they have been psyopted also, serving another mind besides their own Speciel Mind and which has as its ultimate goal annihilation of humanity completely, which, of course, would lead to their demise as well. This Alien Mind they have accepted is more like a virus or a cancer and it will destroy its host and itself in the process because it is an insane mind.

    As for a wound that never heals, well, some can be separated from this mind, but those who cannot will most likely be devolved as it was done at the time of Nimrod, another psyopter, where 1/3 of those who followed him were made into apes and 1/3 were made into swine, and the last third went crazy because Man took their empathetic ability away from them and they could no longer communicate with each other telepathically.

  2. Many of the quotes sound very much like Lt Col Aquino, the infamous Satanist US Army psychological warfare prooponent about whom many dark things are whispered.

  3. Great series, glad to have finally caught up on it. So much to unpack here. My responses address the series so far as a whole, so let me first repeat here the words of the Illuminati’s greatest friend in the 20th century, the original red pill pusher himself, the enigmatic Robert Anton Wilson:

    “If I were the head of the Illuminati, I certainly wouldn’t call it by that name….I’d call it the John Birch Society, and advertise it as an organization *opposed* to the Illuminati. That way I’d be able to rope in all the people who are opposed to the Illuminati and use them as unwitting dupes. This is such a plausible idea that if the Illuminati do exist, they must have thought of it already.”

    That being said…

    That “Stalin and the chicken” thing is a deep mystery, no? There is much in the last two posts in this series that makes me think of E. W. WIlson’s “Terror and Resistance: A Study in Political Violence, a good deal of which seeks to answer the question “why some men who already have legitimate authority choose to rule by violence.”

    “At the same time, it has always been assumed that a government bent on satisfying somebody would also be expected to preserve the same from harm, and according to our way of thinking it is inconceivable that a ruler might exercise violence against the very ‘somebodies’ he was trying to satisfy. Therefore, our conventions of political thought have shut out the realities of terroristic systems, for our imaginations cannot grasp the paradox of a regime of terror–a government that destroys part of the community to control the rest. To make the matter even less intelligible, the part being destroyed need not have a social identity different from the somebodies to be satisfied.”

    There are many answers to those questions, but the most basic one is: the terror has a regulatory social function.

    Over the holidays I listened to some folklore podcasts about the oh-so-trendy of late Krampus phenom. We Americans are presently engaging in some cultural appropriation at the expense of our European ancestors perhaps, but what I learned was that in Europe Krampus is just the beginning, there are other species in that same genus, and what most seemed to share was that they were instruments of a measured, purpose-driven and possibly even “salutary” terror as Robespierre might have called it. To enforce behavioral norms and obedience to parents; to ensure quality control at the spinning wheel and loom; to restore patriarchal authority over unruly women. These were some of the purposes of these figures, dressed in masks and costumed like the “demigods” they are, unleashed on their own societies in their regularly recurring season as instruments of social regulation with a supernatural aspect for that “salutary” effect. One could ascribe to these traditions a “political” purpose, in that they disciplined and shaped the polity.

    Along these lines, there is a great blog I found recently, and here is a post that gets a little to some of this stuff, if obliquely: https://traditionsofconflict.com/blog/2018/1/31/on-secret-cults-and-male-dominance

    This series also reminds one of Mogenson’s “A Most Accursed Religion: When Trauma Becomes a God,” a very important book (which I learned of and read thanks to you!). The gist of it is as you recall “The divine/God is where the ‘gaps’ are, where we put things that are too big to understand. Trauma is too big to fit into our consciousness and so it is experienced as divine.” (That is not a quote, more like an inexcusably bad oversimplification on my part). God is the dispenser of judgment, severity, wrath, Mogenson said, but he is also the instrument of mercy and deliverance from….his own wrath. So Stalin, like the rest of the 20th century’s mass murderers, is worshiped even now as a god: the Lord Plucketh the Feathers, and yea doth He Comfort the Plucked.

    I recall years ago when they turned Guantanamo Bay into a gulag, the stories started coming out about torture, and some talking head on the radio said “that’s part of the point of torturing people, you want there to be survivors who talk about how brutal it all is.” Terrorism most simply defined is “political violence” and the body of the tortured man is inscribed with a political message for the rest of us: this poor soul has had his feathers ripped out, don’t be next.

    Anyway, where I am going with this is these public events like the ones you described…maybe they’re intended not just for the celebrants but the pictures are taken and leaked for the rest of us. Trauma can be “experienced as divine” but if that is understood then why not dress it up in supernatural fashion on purpose just for the “multiplier effect” and rub that in all those “somebodies'” faces? Its obvious the aristocrats don’t party like us little people but I get the sense that at least some of that elite occult-ish symbol mongering is as much costumery and status signalling as it is a sincere representation of their elite “religious” practice. One can imagine at least a couple of participants in the cake party referenced above going along with it even if their hearts aren’t in it: “Of course I am not really like this but sure I’ll go along to this illuminati drag masquerade and play the aristocrat at this weird party thing. This is gonna totally build my brand. Pass me that thigh, please.”

    So maybe it comes “down” like that but it also scales “up.” Again, if trauma is experienced as divine, if it can trigger deep psyche effects that manifest with a supernatural or even godly aspect, then appealing to that supernatural faculty in people is an effective way to “trigger” and manipulate people’s political positions. After all, you don’t get pogroms by appealing to rational minds, you get there by dark rumors and pointed fingers shrieking about blood libel and black masses in the woods. Regardless of the quite evident fire under that smoke, what were the political effects of portraying Clinton and co as a pack of baby eating satanist vampires on the eve of the 2016 election? Made a lot of people stay home, it seemed. Dragged on Democratic turnout, poisoned the well so even if she did win she would have been tainted by the 21st century blood libel type smear. Note please I am not arguing the veracity or lack thereof about any of it. Everybody argued pizzagate to death already, it was what Peter Dale Scott would have called a “deep event” about which, by now, everyone has their mind made up. The point is, fire/smoke ratios notwithstanding, ginning people up with supernatural heebie jeebies against an enemy works and it works well. Just ask Alex Jones, who has played the role of sacred clown for decades and whose world we now live in. If the experience of trauma is key to the development of one’s “supernatural faculties,” then the “divinity” that attends that trauma can become a medium through which that spine-tingling “holy dread” can be activated, directed and weaponized. So even if all that pizzagate stuff was never anything other than 100% provably false, it wouldn’t matter. It doesn’t have to be true, it just has to be effective as a PSYOP, and it surely was in this case. So much more “juice” in that story than a comparatively boring yarn about Harvey Weinstein being a garden variety power abusing rapey horndog with access to private intel/harrassment firms.

    American conspiritainment culture has sustained and renewed itself on this ginning up of supernatural dread, true or not, is my point. It works.

    Along these lines, Angel Millar was quite correct in characterizing the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion as a modern “religious text.” Politically the purpose of the protocols is plainly anti-communist among other things, but a mere manifesto would not do. Its the appeal to that supernatural faculty that gives it the juice.

    But like I said, the odd thing is that while the detractors are always willing to hang the mask of the demonic vampire terror god on the faces of their targets, the targets seem every bit as willing to put it on, themselves. That, too, is a mystery, like the old Kahlil Gibran story where a mortally wounded devil convinces a priest to nurse him back to health, convincing him that if he dies the priest will find himself out of a job.

    Might have more to say later, but this is enough (rambling) for now. Thank you as always for your work in exploring the types of questions upon which one pricks ones finger so often. The resulting beads of blood are a proof of..something. Take care.

    • Great comments, thanks. Tho the series is on pause as of the latest post, I do have notes for further chapters so hope to return to it in a while. Comments like this help keep the fire burning.

    • As to your Krampus comment: the anthropologist Brian Hayden has found this phenomenon in North American, African and Oceanic societies as well: where terror is used for the specific purpose of controlling the population. Nested within this policy of terror is a network of like-minded ‘aggrandizers’ who conspire to control their societies using the foil of gods and spirits manifested in masks and performances. The whole logic of the conspiracy is traumatogenic: to trigger dissociation between mind and body so that the mind refers to the external other and not its own embodied perceptions i.e. what really matters.

      Since this is so basic, what is going on? Are the ‘spirits’ real, or are they manifestations of an evolved cultural psyche that requires brainminds who think about what they feel about themselves and the others they live with while at the same time they live in an external environment where the resources they need for living are searched for and valued.

      This whole strategy of trauma could be conceived as the relational fulcrum of identity formation. How many generations of meaning and knowledge-making lie behind the minds we possess today? How much trauma have we been put through, and how much of it has been gratuitous? Is it not, for instance, gratuitous today? The romanticization of trauma is an outgrowth of a brainstem which regulates the entirety of its bodily processes in early life in relation to how environmental objects impinge on the organism. Two years worth of brainstem growth include the phases of Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal axis regulation, where the hormones of the body are integrated with the stress-response systems of the relationally oriented mind, and more complex object-relation processes. It is unbelievable to think that your affective mind is an outgrowth of your early-life relational patterns of reaction. Your tolerances; your desires; all of this can be seen as a plinko type process where motivations and needs at one moment in time are being regulated – responded to or denied, producing a constructive or destructive wave interference in mirror-neuron dynamics – by the reactions of others to your experiences. Everyone begins as a baby in their mothers belly. All of it is relational and co-dependent in its arising.

      Anyways, the fact that this culture is so widespread deserves some sort of explanation: is the ‘archetype’ the value of power – a sort of well-trodden pathway in the brainmind of human beings? Is this ‘archetype’ a self-representation, reflecting an idealization borne from trauma as constrained by ongoing social life? The term ‘god’ seems apropos from this perspective, as the person more or less is implicitly worshipping the archetypal egocentric orientation that a self with his capacities/weaknesses (i.e. needs) expresses, and in times of need, will turn to as if it were an independently existing force, rather than a collective-representation that derives from social-interactions and private representation processes.

      Your comments are very interesting and insightful, and yes, “trauma as divine” is definitely somerhing I sense happening in Whitney Streiber or, unfortunately (because I sort of like him) Jeffrey Kripal. In an email exchange with the latter, I mentioned the importance of ‘not fetishizing trauma’, at which point our exchanges ended, and I began to wonder, quite naturally, if my emphasis on not fetishizing trauma conflicted with his own beliefs.

      There is something inherently creepy about the death-oriented and death worshipping culture that seems to exist. We see it in the origins of ancient Egypt; we see it in the mass graves of its early kings, Den and Djen, who sacrified hundreds of humans to ‘accompany them’ to their after-life world when they died. The archeological evidence indicates that many were buried alive, or killed on the spot, to satisfy this psychotic blood lust.

      Today, there are still whiffs of this culture. The ancient Phoenicians, specifically followers of Baal Hammon, killed their own first born males in very public ways for the sake of their egos – i.e. for the sake of their shared-value system. That it seemed gratuitous and horrific to non-traumatized people is clear, as the Phoenicians stopped practicing it openly, and then outlawed it, whereas the Carthaginians – ancestors of the Phoenicians, carried on the practice more openly, clearly being ‘egged on’ by their own empire building in and around the middle-Mediterranean.

      In short, human beings have an amazing potential for insanity, and for complex and plausible explanations that make sense in the unrecognized dissociation of knowledge that exists in a non-linguistic form i.e. as feelings. Traumatized people have negative feelings about things; their tolerance is little; their tendency to become overwhelmed by the environment is high; hence, their tendency to being triggered into egotistical and aggressive states is related to their general irritability and problem with feeling in control of their bodies. This issue fundamentally precludes coherent thinking; the autonomic nervous must be relaxed before higher cortical functions can be accessed and used for clearer representations.

  4. Speaking of rambling, there is this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaeVrHICuek

    Ed Opperman, on whose show you have been a guest at least once, is a real treasure as you know. In this show (I believe) he talks about something which is relevant to the earlier part of this series, specifically about hollywood & organized crime, and how popular culture models behavior.

    Somewhere in this show Mr. Opperman talks with some exasperation about how current events surrounding the DJT administration has people talking about it in terms of the Godfather movies. Opperman is amazed at how often the players in this drama have taken their cues and seem to be modeling and/or explaining their behavior in terms of the Godfather films. Thought it was relevant to the series…

    • Catherine Austin Fitts (who just reviewed Vice of Kings) cites the Godfather films as key “revelation texts” re: deep state politics.

      I have never spoken with Opperman but since he coordinates with Bill Ramsay, one or two of my talks may have shown up in his feed.

  5. You have beautifully articulated my thoughts about the presidential campaign – but I just couldn’t get it jelled until reading your article.
    I’ve also recently contemplated the purpose and effects of traumatic images in media. I will not watch violence any more as I believe that the subconscious mind doesn’t realize the difference between reality and fiction. I don’t need the subconscious trauma.
    One other thought I am curious about is the purpose of circumcision. I don’t buy into what we are told by the medical authorities. What is the effect of that physical trauma on an infant? Is it the seeds of slavery and control?

  6. The subject addressed in this post was the closest I could find to the issue on my mind.
    Mr. Horsley, from time to time you have opened discussions on what is being called “conspiracy entertainment”; i.e. the incorporation of conspiracy themes and the related culture into popular entertainment.
    Like you, I am not of the mindset that every expression of conspiracy themes that appears in popular format is some kind of an attempt to enlighten people about the true state of things. For the most part, I think it’s just clever execs and writers playing to a growing demographic.
    Having said that, I think that like most myth-making, there is an element to this that eludes the conscious intentions and purposes of those involved in it.
    Myths, like all fictional narratives, can assume a life of their own. And, by this I am not referring merely to their viral quality, but to the fact that even if they are invented with nothing more than financial gain in mind, there can be super and sub-strata to these narratives that can be unintentionally confessional. That is, on some level outside of human control, if you observe closely, the myths themselves can give evidence of what facts are behind them.
    With that said, I want to talk about “Stranger Things”, the popular Netflix series, and a recent, and radical shift in its tone and themes in this third season that was just released.
    I recall that you had some disparaging things to say about this show, and I understand your criticisms. I do not believe (as some do) that the intent behind this show was to wake people up to the reality of the world we live in.
    It was designed for profit and popularity. Having said that, I think that by making the series, the Duffer brothers, intentionally or not, tapped into the well of trauma engendered by decades of MK-Ultra style programs here in the U.S.
    Even though it was described as a nostalgia trip, a paean to 1980s era America, the first two seasons do not really support that. While it does play on nostalgia for the period, in these first two seasons there is a consistently dark subtext. Not only the MK-Ultra issue, but in the depictions of 1980s American life. The show took time to show that this was not a Halcyon era, but a time of deep divisions and persistent shadows.
    In your various writings on these topics, you have discussed social engineering at length. (For instance the propagation of UFO cults and trans-humanism as an incremental adjustment of societies toward a larger agenda.) To my mind, knowingly or not, this kind of engineering was what initially lay behind “Stranger Things”. That its popularity may be in part a result of a need to incorporate an unspoken trauma into a manageable narrative.
    To clarify what I mean here, I draw an example from popular literature and film. In the post WWII years we began to see an ongoing stream of novels, comics, and films that deal with the idea of a lingering or resurgent Nazi menace. It has been my contention that the reason why these appeared and prospered is that on some level Americans knew about the real cost of the incorporation of elements of the Nazi state into ours. Yes, we were told that these were “good Germans”, that they were never really Nazis, etc. But, on the subconscious level, I think that there was an awareness that all was not right.
    This deeply buried fear would only have been amplified by the atrocities that followed from our collusion with the Nazis. Programs like MK owed an immense amount to the influx of Nazi scientists and other personnel into our subterranean, national life.
    So, I think that the manifestation of the lingering or resurgent Nazi menace theme was something that emerged from this awareness.
    I think that, in part, the popularity of “Stranger Things” worked the same way.
    Which brings me to the change in tone and themes in season 3. Even someone who doesn’t like the show might find this interesting.
    In this newest season all talk of MK-Ultra, and reference to the perfidy of allowing such a thing to occur in your own nation, has suddenly disappeared. The new menace are the Soviet Russians. As well, almost all of the darker elements of the story have vanished. Now the show really is nothing but a tribute to the 1980s. The aspects of ambivalence about this time have been completely written out of the show. What remains is really just a post 2000 tribute to the blockbuster action films of that time.
    While I was never a devoted fan, I couldn’t help but notice the change. And, I have wondered if this change was either a societal form of psychological denial, and/or if it is possible that the Duffer brothers may have gotten a little tap on the shoulder from some agency.
    Again, I am not trying to say that the series was ever about enlightening or saving anyone. But, the change from the first two seasons was so marked, that I felt it might be of some interest to those who frequent this forum.

    • This is of interest, & I know Chris Knowles has been writing about the show, so maybe he has something to say about this latest turn. I only got about 2 episodes in before losing interest. I wouldn’t rule out a third option, which is my current working theory on pop cultural propaganda: first get our attention, interest, & investment, i.e,, establish credibility, and then, once we’re hooked, lead us all the way into the BS zone. (Soften us up with truth before administering the lie.)

      This could be an unnecessary hypothesis, since creativity tends to dry up naturally over time anyway, and the more successful a show is, the more the makers tend to become self-conscious, corrupted, or jaded by that success.

      Then there’s the psychological mechanism of revelation that leads to double-downing of denial: disturb audiences with a taste of the truth & then offer them the means to sweep it all under the rug, and they may receive gratefully what they would otherwise have been skeptical about…. Quite a few possibilities here.

  7. Indeed, and thanks for replying, given that I know that the show didn’t do much for you.
    I was ambivalent about it, but did feel that the first two seasons had some merit, as entertainment and as an object of study.
    Given that you are very familiar with the work of Rene Girard, I probably do not have to explain this; but the real focus for me whenever I examine popular myths likes this, is the observation that myths have the function of both concealing and revealing trauma.
    The thought has crossed my mind of just how much of the social engineering process eludes control of the engineers. That there are dynamics at work that even they can’t fully control. As I am a writer (albeit non-published) I tend to look at things from the point of view of narratives, and how there seems to be something similar to what Jung described with his idea of the Collective Unconscious, or eve a kind of Akashic Record of narratives.
    I mean how stories not only proliferate in the viral fashion, but also the way that aspects of narrative seem to be invoked; and I do mean this in a fashion closely aligned with magical invocation. And, just as with that practice, sometimes what answers the call is not exactly what the invoker intended.
    Another example of this is the film “Unbreakable”. If you have not seen this one, it’s worth a look from the social engineering standpoint. It is of the “super-heroes/villains in real life” sub-genre; like “Watchman” but even more reliant on a real-world image.
    In it, we have Sam Jackson’s character explaining that he believes that comic books are a kind of cryptic history of real events. That the world does contain extraordinary persons, and that the comics, however exaggerated, are a kind of record of real events.
    Now, all of this was interesting enough even before I delved into subjects like Girard’s theory about sacrificial myths, and social engineering. Now, much of what I see in the film goes beyond my original estimations.
    To try and clarify… in “Stranger Things” we have a narrative that acknowledges the horror of things like MK-Ultra, even including the element that those experiments breached our reality and allowed something Other to enter in.
    However, (and this is the crucial point), it is crafted into a heroic narrative, where the former subject of these experiments eventually becomes a power unto herself, and engages in various savior type feats.
    What I see here is an adaptive crucial fiction, (to use your term.) It’s a way of allowing the trauma of MK, but then appropriates the narrative toward what is essentially a trans-humanist agenda.
    In season two, when Eleven, the girl from season one, meets her “sister” from the MK program, there is a great deal of this. With Kali (Eleven’s sister) going on about how wonderful their gifts are, an how they can use them to seize their own destiny.
    Speaking honestly, when I saw “Unbreakable” I came away from the experience inordinately disturbed. My response was weird; while the film was powerful in its way, the emotions it elicited from me were not like what others experienced.
    It took me years, and a lot of research, to see at least one possible reason why I might have felt the way I did…
    Or course you are aware of the Montauk myth; and all the other stories about human augmentation and exploration of hidden potentials; (Project Star Gate, etc.; and, by the way the original basis for “S.T” was the Montauk story.) I for one believe that at least some of these projects were successful. While I do not believe that the Montauk books are factual, I believe that they have something behind them; something more than just fantasies.
    And, I do believe that psionic abilities were weaponized; and I even believe that human beings were altered by various means.
    I think that stories like “Unbreakable”, “S.T.”, and the current fervor over all things super-heroic (Marvel movies, et alia), are on one level, adaptive. Like with the Nazi resurgence stories, I think there is an awareness in humanity that we have been changed. That trans-humanism has advanced further than is publicly/consciously known. The popularity of these movies and TV series is, in part, an attempt to conceal/reveal, but most importantly to alter. To recast these changes so that they are either: a. attributed to a different, non-traumatic origin (Marvel’s mutants who are just born as they are), or b. shown as something that, however traumatic in origin, are still a boon for mankind.
    I think (as crazy as it might sound) that this was one of the reasons why I came away from “Unbreakable” so disturbed. It wasn’t the pathos of the characters, or the overall effect of the narrative. It was that on some level, I was seeing behind the narrative.

  8. To add to the likely impression of mental imbalance on my part, I even suspect that I may have been involved in experiments of this kind.
    While I do not credit that I have “super-powers”, (at least nothing that fits the comic book image of a ready force that I can call up at will), I feel that I may have been explored for certain potentials.
    You have mentioned numerous times that you believe it’s likely that these UFO encounter type stories, the ones engineered via black ops, may serve more than just the purpose of covering the tracks of various agencies involved with them. That, perhaps, one of the goals was to create human beings who are resonators of a kind. Individuals who serve as a kind of living gate to Other realities; or as a magnet for the types of forces and intelligences that emerge from those realities.
    This is what I see in my life. Not so much powers, as such, but I kind of aura of the weird. This, and an unusually strong kind of empathy, and the ability to imagine unreal things that bleed over into the waking world.

  9. These reflections, by the way, are what drew me to your work. Particularly, “Seen and Not Seen”, and “Prisoner.”
    I grew up via comic books, novels, movies, and (to a lesser extent) television programs. Because I lacked a stable sense of self, and had no positive role models in my family, these mediums were the means of both constructing an identity, and to some degree of socialization.
    I had Captain America as my moral compass. And… various other heroes and villains and anti-heroes to describe other aspects of self.
    My first real, complete breakdown (in my early 20s) came when I called it all into question. I do not mean that I possessed the very articulate framework that I now possess, (Girard, social engineering, phenomenological discourse on consciousness and identity.) But, merely that at around the age of 18, due to the way in which I was continually being influenced by narratives and archetypes, I threw myself behind the effort of simply denying their relevance. In effect, I banned imagination from my life.
    While this may seem like an extreme reaction, I was compelled by the idea that the only way my life would change was if I cut myself off from this recourse.
    The effects were disastrous. I fell apart. I experienced articulated nihilism on a level that almost defies description. But, even though I was eventually drawn back into mythic and narrative thought, the impetus that drove that original break never completely died. It stayed in place, even as I went back to reading novels, and practicing magic.
    It was the subtext that I kept trying to reveal/conceal.

  10. I realize that I have been probably overloading you with comments, so I will endeavor to make this a final one… for now.
    First, thanks so much for cluing me into Chris Knowles. I have been desperate to read some comments on “S.T” that go beyond the typical internet babble.
    More importantly, I have this to say, regarding aspects of your reflections; (I mean the books I mentioned in an earlier comment.)
    More than any other aspect of what you wrote in these books, what haunts me the most are the anecdotes and “maybe” memories that seem, well, inexplicable. The genuinely weird things.
    For instance, your account of the dream (?) of being in some unknown place, surrounded by others and in the presence of military personnel. And, encountering these hybrid beings.
    Or, the half remembered incident of describing in your letter home that you saw a UFO; and the incident of running around on a field, with the bed-sheets.
    In my case, I have things like this. I can divide my experiences into three levels, I think. On the most surface level, I see things that are just a little strange; being taken to homes of persons that I did not know, and who clearly were not family members; being left there overnight, etc.
    Then, on the next level down, there are things more damning; for instance I recall a kind of seance with an uncle who was abusive, and who had a proclivity for cross-dressing.
    Finally, there are the experiences that seem to make no sense at all. Things so disconnected from any kind of common-sense perception that they seem more like dreams than anything that could really have happened.
    An example of the last would be this.
    As a child my family moved a lot; never knew why. So, there are large stretches of my childhood that are just indeterminate. Among the most obscure was a period when I lived in Wyoming. I believe that I must have been around the age of 5-6.
    I have talked with my brother about this period, and he shares the same impression. Whereas he can recall with a fair degree of clarity other places and times from our childhood, he said that Wyoming always has the quality of a faded, washed out photograph.
    At any rate, the incident in question is as follows: I have what may be a memory of a night when some people that we did not know, that we had no previous interactions with (at least none that I could recall) came to our house. They spent some time there, having drinks, talking to my parents. And, at some point they began to talk about how there were groups/families of people who wandered the country, invading homes, killing and eating the families that lived there.
    What is weirder, is that they talked about how these wanders were not exactly human; and that they could actually pluck or tear organs out of someone’s body by some magic or psionic means.
    There are more than a few of these things. Things that I discounted as nothing more than my imagination. Until I finally began to interact with my two brothers again, and began to hear similar things from them.

  11. It would seem, given Jasun’s in depth analysis of the Strieber/”Communion” phenomenon (especially its movement into an actual cult), this is the best forum in which to address the points on my mind.
    I had made some comments on the Conspiracy Entertainment trend, and these are related to that, but with a different emphasis.
    I have been spending some time looking at the Montauk myth, as well as other examples of ostensible de-programmers and other “whistle-blowers”, that claim some connection to covert ops and related phenomenon. And, while nothing I set down here has not been brought forth in other forums, I feel that it is one of the most under researched aspect of these questions.
    We have persons such as Mark Phillips, who was supposed to be the person who rescued and de-programmed Cathy O’Brien. Then Preston Nichols, who claimed he was leaking information about Montauk, and contacting and de-programming various persons (all male) who were supposed to be victims of what happened there.
    In the case of Phillips, information has surfaced to show how he may have been manipulating O’Brien. In the case of Nichols… well, what can one say about someone who admitted that his “de-programming” of these ostensible victims involved sexually stimulating them while he asked questions and carried out his “de-programming”?
    What I am aiming at here is not a simple statement that all of the stories about Montauk, or the accounts of O’Brien are complete fabrications. In the case of Montauk, for instance, I believe it likely that something of a covert nature really was going on at Camp Hero.
    My focuses is on way that partial facts can be spun, (especially by unscrupulous persons and damage control agents), to distort the truth. And, serve the social engineering agenda.
    What seems very likely, if you review the behavior, background, and influence of men like Phillips and Nichols, is that they are working in some capacity related to the above. In the case of Nichols, I think that if he had any actual connection to what happened at Montauk, he was likely a procurer. I mean that he was involved with the kidnapping of the boys that were brought there for use. And, possibly given another role; that of damage control agent and social engineer.
    The warning signs are always so painfully obvious; and yet go unnoticed again and again. We saw them all in Jasun’s analysis of the Strieber situation. What starts as a grasping at facts shifts into a question of “truth”. A question of belief.
    When I used to, on occasion, watch the X-Files, I would always flinch at the sight of Mulder’s “I Want To Believe” poster. Why? Because whenever the issue of emotional investment, or spiritual investment, comes into play, we are no longer looking for facts. We are looking for a myth that will (at best) help us fit the facts into a manageable framework. At worst, a myth that will obfuscate or eliminate those facts.
    What is most depressing is how obvious these persons can be in their overtures. Take at look at all the “Chosen Ones” rhetoric that has come from Strieber to his fan base in recent years. Or, at the above mentioned admission by Nichols… how obvious they can be, and still have people fall for it.
    One of the reasons why I avoid “conspiracy culture”, (and, I am not referring here to only the obvious entertainment use), is because of how easily these groups slide into cult mentality. This, and the awareness, the assumption, that any endeavor is always improved by having a group working on it.
    In the case of actual research, especially of this kind, I don’t see that group efforts are of much use. While consulting individual researchers and those claiming direct experience can be useful, getting together en masse as a cultural is all but useless. What it leads to, more often than not, is a lot of emotion sharing, and almost no real factual content. In addition, it tends to develop the cult mentality.
    Can we not see that if the persons behind programs such as MK-Ultra invested all that time and effort in examining the dynamics of the human mind, they would not foresee this dynamic? And, now how it could be used for damage control and furthering the social engineering agenda?

  12. And, apologies for the multiple spelling and grammatical errors in the above. But, hopefully I still got the point across.

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