Do the righteous amongst us choose formulaic thinking over science-based deductive observation?
Pulp Fiction, released in 1994 as an American black comedy neo-noir crime film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, is from a story by Tarantino and Roger Avary. It was, and continues to be a cultural watershed…a great piece of cinematic art capturing the myopia within American culture.Samuel Jacksons’ treatment of Ezekiel’s passage 25:17 ”And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall lay my vengeance upon them” chooses to look back in anger.
Pulp Fiction grafts contemporary narrative onto arcane roots in antiquity to create a novel way of resolving the delusions of myopic grandeur that beset Jules Winnfield, a thug in need of redemption. The America Tarantino presents here is one where hype and entertainment paralyse the human spirit, as the market-economy goes about its business shredding the wellbeing of its’ citizens…the sense that an intractable appetite for personal gratification had become America’s raison d’etre is all pervasive.
Marsellus Wallace is a gang boss and husband to Mia Wallace. He is the boss of Vincent Vega, Jules Winnfield, Butch Coolidge and many other unknown gangsters. He famously states that the business he’s in “is filled with unrealistic motherfuckers” when addressing Butch Coolidge…Bruce Willis… a pugilist being forced to ‘throw’ a fight. The term motherfucker here implies the existence of somebody of indeterminate status which inevitably applies to all who get in the way of any dominant actor seeking power…hegemony…over other sin a rat-race to the top. The three stories capture the ineluctable spread of corruption that seeps to every nook and cranny of society…leaving Hollywood to capitalize on one unholy mess.
The dream machine always gets it right; life is about coupling in one way or another… couples struggling with their destinies are at the hub of the three stories that ‘did-it’ for Pulp Fiction in a very fractious form.Hollywood became Hollywood because it successfully identified the American existential narrative as a drama belonging to couples or individuals compelled, by external social conditions, to trade their way through a dog-eat-dog system designed to produce winners and losers from withinits protean boundaries.
Hollywood became the institution that took ‘selfies’ of American democracy prior to the advent of the cell-phone. Exploring the many ways socio-criminal aspects of micro-democracy led to friction was one of Hollywood’s great accomplishments. When hubris arrived in emperors’ clothing to betray democratic principles of fair play, Hollywood was there to run with that subject too.
When propaganda took control of macro-America, Hollywood went along with the process, creating blockbusters to record the occasion of America marshalling its military muscle to promote the dream of empire. When the Soviet Union dissolved into independent republics on the 26 December 1991, Hollywood was ready with foot-tapping energy to glorify the American way of doing business, as true-blue gospel possessed of genius and righteousness. At this point America, the sole remaining superpower,began ejaculating hubris believing that it had reached an end-game. Assuming domination and permanence had come into the world as a couple wearing stars- and-stripes regalia, America began its lecherous assault on the resources of the world.
Corporate America, having obliterated its own soul,proceeded to cast its shadow across Hollywood and the media in general in its pursuit of global dominance.Delivering a coup de grace to aspirational democracy was achieved by branding dissenting voices aspersons threatening national security.Macro-America, armed to the teeth…and with Hollywood’s help…was about to blockbuster the world into creating new enemies to replace the ghosts of the fallen demigods of the Soviet era… America had reached the point where there was no war it didn’t like…its righteousness, marching onwards in jack-boots, was now ready to stomp on those ‘unrealistic motherfuckers’ anywhere in the world they found them and relieve them of their lives and assets.
The new global sheriff didn’t have to be sexy. The new sheriff…or puppet-master…had to have an appetite for friction. With empire in mind, the job of shouldering into the world at large could only be achieved fractiously. The world was full of ‘unrealistic motherfuckers’…as Marcellus Wallace observed in Pulp Fiction…who simply could not grasp that America is exceptional. The American public had to be brought around to focus on the multiple threats coming from abroad. Demons were everywhere and the tax payer was expected to do their patriotic bit… Hollywood would do films like American Sniper!
American culture, as depicted in Pulp Fiction, cleverly brings idiom into play to fortify narrative. The ‘me’ and ‘you’ and ‘us’ of it clearly establishes American culture at its’ grassroots level to show life for what it is …the all-present-pulse-rate of stress marking time for one and all. To the non-American it was a window into an inverted culture, absorbed and obsessed with material emancipation…where it seemed that nobody was likely to get out of bed unless a ‘deal’ could be struck.
But meanwhile, a colourful American language had come into existence offering a menu of nouns to titillate and motivate the ‘motherfuckers’ who were yet to experience the cultural shift brought about by a Corporatocracy intent on refocusing the nation on America’s empirical destiny.
Ezekiel’s 2500-year-old prophetic profundity, used by Quentin Tarantino, was about existential choice as originally conceived by the old prophet; which instinct might best shepherd one away from iniquity and which voice should one listen to when seeking a resolution to chaos and fractious temptations challenging ones’ psyche.Almost a quarter of a century later, we find that the deep state is doing the nuancing now and we can only hold our non-dissenting collective breath and wait for Godot…or think of new resolutions!
That malice persists…and resolutions must be sought… regardless of sagacious wisdom, suggests that no individual voice can match the power of collective expression in the face of the iniquities our remaining superpower enacts in the world. America has ushered in a holocaust in the Middle East, a soft, moist, shapeless mass of pulpy matter called American Democracy, enforced by means of hard-power and it is called liberation. The public, incompetent in matters of foreign policy go along for the ride, having imbibed of the propaganda sent down to them by their masters.
That the American public is dumbed down by voices that make it difficult for them to understand what their leaders are doing in their name, suggests it may be high time to press the pause button. The unctuous voices of those shepherding them are not necessarily the best ones to listen to. To begin to be free and understand the world beyond America’s borders might entail the jettisoning of all gospel-baggage.
If Jules Winnfield of Pulp Fiction fame had been aware that there were other eminent voices from antiquity offering science-based perspectives for instance…Socrates and Confucius to name but two…would the resolution of Jules’ social/ethical problem have been different? …who knows? He may have concluded that wisdom…existential reflection…acquired in going up the mountain was less sanguine than the wisdom acquired in not looking for a Lord to listen to in the first place. Listening, he might have discovered, is more rewarding when wisdom is distilled at ground level.
The new narrative (post 9/11) is quite unlike the old narrative. The couplings found in Pulp Fiction have now acquired new form. The Empire, now intent on global dominance, moved to establish new alliances in ways that would best serve America’s desire to trade in the world with the aid of the MIC…military industrial complex…with the CIA as an out-rider, employed to ‘soften’ resistance to hegemonic creep as it moved eastward. Israel on the other hand, as miscreant bride and faithful wife of the Godfather, came along for the ride. Forever lusting after more Muslim territory, the children of the prophet Moses, themselves a wax museum with an arcane pulse, offered their know-how as geo-strategic-prophets to assist the Emperor in putting his best putsch forward.
The new best couple, America and Israel, set about controlling the narrative. Censorship itself, was the new narrative, taking charge of all matters concerning corporate America, especially all that happened outside its borders. Forbidding whistle-blowers and journalist to stray from the propaganda path meant that the public at large would remain captive to inverted perspectives…if ignorance was bliss,then ‘the unrealistic motherfuckers’ were bound to be left high on it. The media might be good at telling the facts, naming the names, but the ‘establishment’ retains the power to rebrand the narrative.
The media did not give enough serious attention to the disconnect that was occurring in America. What was happening to the American people and what was being done abroad in their name became separate realities. The widespread preoccupation with projecting American achievements into a world the American people hardly understood had become the norm. Cultures outside America were foreign…therefore potentially un-American. And myopia being myopia, the people went on to elect a president…not unlike themselves…who was ignorant of the fundamental realities beyond Americas’ borders.
And the sound of rebranding is the sound of one hand clapping. First it was the ‘axis of evil’, a confection of ‘unrealistic motherfuckers’ who were ungrateful for the democratic ‘goodwill’ America was extending their way, and so they had to be shown the sheriff’s brand of justice. Then there were the specifics; leaders like Gaddafi had to go even if it meant the destruction of Libya. Then there was Putin and Russia who had to be cold-showered all over again. No matter that Russia was not threatening anybody, nor invading anybody’s country, but mainly preoccupied with its own security as NATO forces kept moving aggressively up to its very borders with its nukey-bits. But truth had zilch impact on the demonising process designed to undermine sovereign power.
Second-rate leadership in America and the west in general had come to mean dispatching airpower to quell any resistance to intervention. Intent was either implicit or explicit, the Emperor and his vassals, Britain, Germany, France, Canada, Australia etc…coalitions of the standover order…would not accept no for an answer to Western demands for compliance.
The colloquial language of urban America, so astutely presented by master-director Quentin Tarantino of Pulp Fiction fame, provides us with the idea of consumption as a vehicle for homespun materiality. Opening with a discussion that reviews the nirvana-potential of sauces applied to French Fries, epicurean methods from two continents were adopted as the means to getting the ball rolling. By dint of talented direction, a day in the life of micro-America came into view. Sex, drugs, money, iconic paraphernalia, but above all, food and the local diner. Cheese Burgers, Big Kahuna Burgers, Big Macs, Hawaiian Burgers, $5 shakes, Sprite, Martin & Lewis shakes, Blueberry Pancakes with maple-syrup, gourmet coffee and muffins to round off this pre-blockbuster movie.
Then along came the Blockbusters doing-it for the Corporatocracy and the language went metallic (ballistic).With no apparent homegrown existentialism to contemplate, the elites got down to business. The Corporatocracy took it into their minds to rebrand existentialism, by giving it the status of a cause celebre, thereby rendering it impersonal…the MIC were put on standby to implement more wastage of the nation’s resources in a selectively militarist way.The brave new order would have a gloriously hard edge but would be highly entertaining.
Ballistic missile, depleted uranium, Mk 19 Automatic grenade launcher, Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt 11 Warthog, Boeing B-52 Stratofortress High Altitude Long-Range Strategic Heavy Bomber, v-22 osprey Cargo Helicopter, m270 Multiple Launch Rocket System and last, but not least, the Mother-of-all- Bombs, were some of the newer savourytitbits that entered the lexicon.
The new endgame required participants to advance and eliminate all unrealistic sensory life from the path of the quixotic-warrior-traders intend on grabbing low hanging fruit from wherever it was to be found. Encountering impediments that could slow this process would require the involvement of the emperors’ mighty airpower. And all of this would be presented in such a way as to allow everybody to relish the business of perpetual war. All they wanted was for the rest of the world to hand over all that should rightfully belong to the righteous of the righteous.
Gone were the savoury bits that embellished Pulp Fiction.The new era of night-in-America had castrated the morning-in-America era by inducing America into a surveillance coma so that the Corporatocracy could get on with its dirty business under the cover of darkness. Hypnotised by the entertainment bauble, Americans, duped into believing all that the TV told them, failed to understand anything that was beyond their immediate gratification. As Wall Street, Hollywood and the media were busy ‘doing-it’ for$s, the spirit of America was being laughed off stage. The elites were sucking ($) it up, as were the lower strati to the best of their ability…as America’scharacter came to beincreasingly measuredby trading successes.
So, if usury is the viagra of American capitalism, what was the point of Quentin Tarantino resurrecting Ezekiel’s Biblical passage 25:17…and reinventing it for the media machine? Ezekiel, like other hoary prophets of antiquity was ‘into’ conundrums regarding inner conflicts assailing human kind and comingup with fear-laden resolutions. Ezekiels’ indigenous pedigree subsequently moved west, becoming a keen player in Europe’s usurious move westwards, resulting in the nefarious coupling of Israel and America. With the evidence now before us, it needs to be said that the traders’ gene did one hell of a job in relegating the spirit of mankind to a very low rung on the evolutionary ladder…the lesson that Jules Winnfield might have learnt if he had played his cards differently, is that there is no existential Lord. If there was, he or she might be protecting Greece and Venezuela from predatory capitalism.
With the national treasure going down the gurgler because of permanent warfare and the Paris Accord in disarray, America may very soon have to act and accept the word ‘social’ into the lexicon because, in the end, we are all in the same boat as ‘unrealistic motherfuckers’ sharing in the resolution of a problem we have created for ourselves…and that problem is identifiably manufactured pulp friction. And to come out of this coma, American’s may need to turn off the TV for a week, go outside and sniff the atmosphere and discover that the system we allow to stay in place generates more stink than fragrance …and in so doing, reflect on what is being done in their name.
Denis A. Conroy is a writer based out of Australia