Friday, June 27, 2008

Picking up where I left off last week

If you are a crazy person, this must be a very exciting time to be alive.

There are so many contextual avenues for the modern delusional to work his magic. Big business and government are their old standbys, but every new technological or scientific advance flares the psyche of these individuals!

It makes you wonder how people in the past managed to have paranoid delusions and conspiracy theories, living in era without cameras, satellites, or large-scale corporate structures.

I wonder how they did it?

"You know the king? He's got a secret intelligence division. Whole bunch of guys with tiny easels and canvases that paint pictures of what we're doing. They could be painting us while we sleep!"

"Oh sure the OFFICIAL story is that Charles X died of cholera, but that's just what they want you to believe . . . there was a second illness given to him by the bourgeois!"

"That apple cart?* The one you always see right after you think about apples? It's controlled by a powerful fruit conglomerate that plans to take over the world!"

Yet today's crazy people have it hard. Science has mostly dispelled the public belief in "magic" (And here I'm speaking of magic proper. Please don't trot out that tired idiom about how 'new technology is essentially magic.' You know there's a difference, don't pretend otherwise.) It's harder to convince the un-superstitious.

But it's for the best. Just like any kind of story telling, using a reasonable mechanism to explain yourself is always more compelling than not.

Take "Death of a Salesman" for instance. Would that story be as good if it cut away for "flashback" sequences? No. The hook of that play is how Willy's failing mind draws us in and out of the past. We appreciate the story because it creates a reasonable excuse for what is otherwise a clunky technique.

And that's why we have things like the "X-Files" and "Men in Black," the hard work of the paranoid has found resonance in popular culture.

*Thank you, MarioKart, for keeping me from spelling this word correctly on the first try.

No comments: