In Hellenic times, theatre was regarded as the institution that held all other institutions up to public examination and scrutiny. Its’ function was to focus on the limits of drama as a shared physical experience monitoring social and political responses to the order of the time. Those who attended theatre may have presupposed that ideas had the power to act on the physicalworld for good or ill. Inclusive versus exclusive zones of power were delineated according to the ability of military might to secure the status of a state.Within the aegis of mythology and military paraphernalia,societies pondered the meaning of destiny.
The ancient Greeks understood the power of the lie…they were the supreme liars…they invented demi-gods. Demi-gods came into existence to channel and focus the hopes of people who sought to better understand the natural world and their passage through it. Using myth as a precursor to scientific knowledge, the progressives of antiquity tipped the scales in the subject-object nexus in favour of an objective bias…if Oedipus hadn’t come along and saved Thebes from the sphinx’s riddle, the city would have been left to suffer malevolence forever without solvingthe riddle of cyclical ingenuity in relation to change…even if it was all based on fabrication.
But ‘military’,as our auspicious forebears might have understood the meaning of the word, was unambiguously a question of manual deployment. Carl von Clausewitz, King Frederick the Great or Thucydides could not have imagined the concept of perpetual warfare as it came to be realised in the America of the 20th.century.The modern…deep…state as we know it had yet to come into existence with its’ covert intelligence networks and power to disseminate propaganda. But let’s move on to ‘modern times’ and the state as archetypal regulator.
The aggressive persona of the U.S.A…allied as it was to corporate capitalism throughout the 20th century…found ever new ways in which to induce the public into believing that domestic politics and foreign policy were virtually irreconcilable. American mythology was running on hubris…and was bent on showing the rest of the world what a can-do people could do.
The can-do people also believed that they should have access to markets and raw materials abroad without hindrance.Crafting Foreign Policy meant protecting America’s need to regulate trade and currencies in accordance with Corporate-Capitalist rules of engagement. Dialogue betweenruler andruled disappeared into a fog of obfuscation under the weight of an ever growingindustrial-scale security apparatus put there to manufacture ever smarter lies and propaganda-candy for a USA style branded status quo seeking global status.
The USAhad no compunction in developing a 24/7 form of lethality in defence of its capitalist interests whichwent far beyond dealing with threats to its borders…there were none! American Imperial power, masquerading asdefender of democracy, perceived the borders of sovereign independent states as impediments to their capitalist interests and proceeded toshamelessly bomb their adversaries and their political systems as they saw fit. Securing resources for the system to thrive meant that new forms of warfare had to be employed. As time went by, the American Empire, keen to invade the last paddock on planet earth, became exceptional in the most myopic way. Americans came to believe they possessed leadership qualities andwere avatars for historic change. But contrary to this belief, there is abundant evidence to show that American enterprisewas more givenover to homicide as much as anything else…as the world would eventually discover.
Hence the mighty demi-cratic bureaucratic state of hubristic America came into being, engaging the CIA and FBI in dramas of the most subversive and out of view kind withthe intent of interfering in other people’s affairs.The drama-queens of the many intelligence services supporting the deep-state…along with the propogandists in the MSM substituted the narrative of the liar for the art of judicious rule. “Who was thy teacher? not methinks thy art” speaks Oedipus…recognising that liars were no champions of public trustworthiness or critical thinking but engineers of dubious progress.
Soon the world observed an America that thought it had a licence to kill with impunity…because that was what it essentially kept doing… continuing a tradition of supremacy…if you were white and of European stock, you did not need emotional history or conscience; you needed other people’s land…and you even needed their cultural artefacts to stock your museums.
Epochs, like prisms, tend to exist after the fact. They usually come into view to denote the existence of a period designated by military superiority or the absence of a challenge to alpha military status. Alpha status is reached when one group acquires enough macho-machinery and tech-sauce to discourage challengers who might think their recipes a sine qua non of historic inevitability.
T.V. and the smart phone…merely two aspects amongst many that define virtual space as disembodied reality,might have astonished…and confounded…Sophocles, Aeschylus, or Euripides if we could transport them across time and space to situate them in front of a screen.They might even ponder on the fact that film and T.V. are ultimately media sports that reserve the right to indoctrinate the masses using induction per advertising to remain in the driver-seat of a mechanism that transports the collective citizen to fiction-heaven. Observing that consumers were required to sit back, couch-potato fashion, and expose themselves to ascreen capable of tanning their wan uncritical persona, while being told that shopping is de jour andtheatre is in the eye of the corporate pocketbook, might have knocked their sandals off.
The in-camera nature of market forces, havingtaken possession of infrastructure, proceeds to relegatethe consumer to an inclusion zone where acceptance of what the marketplace offers is the sole available reaction under circumstances that negate choice. Inducted into an arrangementmore akin to military order that social fellowship, the marketing-game becomes one where the mesmerised proselyte is seduced by the frippery of toys.
In our virtual world, talking-heads like Bill Maher or John Oliver or Bill O’Reilly…when he was still around…demi-gods of the virtual world…would have sent the collective eyebrows of Sophocles, Aeschylus, Euripides and Aristophanes soaring into the stratosphere…the idea of virtual voices having right-of-passage to penetrate private space might have done their heads in.The monotonous drone of opinionated late-night T.V. hosts feeding reboot into a loop to keeptheir $$$ perspectives alive, are the products of heraldic-minded Corporate Americans bent on ushering-in plastic dreams of progress.
The theatre of America…the can-do society…has become obsessed with what Americans can produce…financial baubles included! Believing capitalism to be the only true flag to fly, it has assumed that it has the right to destroy every other flag that opposes the American can-do way of doing whatever it wants to do… Its record is one where destruction with impunity has become the modus operandi of the American heavyweight determined to impose false-flag and every other falsehood on all and sundry who would dare resist the stars and stripes juggernaut. The dramatists within the deep-state who now conduct their theatre in great secrecy from the bowels of the political system do business in so much secrecy, that the outlook for the average Joe and Jane does not auger well.
The alpha navel-gazing male American elite are alive and well and secure in a fortified kitchen, manufacturing bloated nuclear hotdogs of the stars-and-stripes variety in readiness for Armageddonand the whole world is meant to ‘respect’ thisawesome power?American Foreign Policy is code for processing the bodies of brown and yellow people as it would sausage meat orBolognese sauce. It relentlessly grows its dreams of empire like a market-junkie regardless of the human cost. American Foreign Policy is also code for shut-up-and-watch-your-screen, as well as pay-up-your-taxes-to-the-war-machine…and yes! …you are required to be pro-Semitic…and we can’t tell you what we are doing for security reasons.
Jokes of the American kind tend to rely on situating the punchline in either a perspective that approves of a premise that appears to exist in a kind of ethereal zone of inclusion condoned by narrative…or conversely…given over to aiming the ‘sting’ at those who earn the wrath of America and therefore need to berelegated to a zone of exclusion as punishment for their non-compliance.The T.V. talk hosts are apostles of a church who like to flagellate those who are of a different ilk…for the hell of it!
The most moronic aspect of America’s hubris is that it needs to do awful things like drop the M.O.A.B. on little brown people in faraway places to satisfy its tech-persona…Sophocles might have observed that mainstream media has become part of a hermetically sealed-in lie that came into existence as a vaccine against truth when the fourth estate ceased doing its job.
So as the MSM in America keeps the home audience marinated in hermetic ignorance, perspectives in the global sphere are forming that tend to deal with issues that relate tomultilateralism as opposed to unilateralism. While America’s ascent into power was based on trade and arrogant enforcement of same,the time has come where the conditions that allowed it to ride roughshod over weaker states havechanged. The post-colonial global world is in full-spectrum tectonic-plate readjustment and global renewal is separating itself from America’s empire posturing.
To be uncritically captive to virtual reality is akin to being hermitically sealed off from the psychical world…like sitting in a sound-proof room as an extension of a camera where one can consume data and pizza for all eternity without having to have a thought of one’sown while remaining isolated far from the maddening crowd…particularly the ones beyond one’s own borders.
But if your art is to be your teacher, you can only find it by being part of the physical world…and what is found out there is ‘reality’, as Socrates noted…” True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing” was uttered ironically. But it was in the town square thathe would eventually experience real discourse withthe young Athenians …for him, public space, like theatre and the town-square, were truly the venues where language had social meaning.
Similarly, the theatre of the Elizabethan era that William Shakespeare was privy to, attracted many attendees to theatrical performance with bags of overripe fruit which they might throw at the cast should a given performance give rise to disdain or disappointment. Response and counter-response were aspects of a culture that was visceral, passionate and not shy to express thecharacter of the public persona. If overripe tomatoes were thrown at an American Presidentin a theatre in this surveillance age, the National Guard and drones mighthave to be called out… there would be blood on the carpet!
In modern times, it is artists like Bansky, graffiti master, painter, activist, filmmaker and all-purpose provocateur who connects art to the public place like nobody else. His famous 2005 series painted on The West Bank barrier wall was subsequently followed by a series of new paintings across ruins in Palestine. Wherever his works appear they truly contain an essence more powerful than a mere image. Wherever they appear they immediately become an inseparable part of the place they are situated in, connecting emotional history to the public place.
So, isn’t it time that the virtual empire withdrew its 800 bases from the real world which itattempts to possess and reprocess?The world has existed as an ontological masterpiece vibrating wisdom, art, emotion, diversity and peculiaritiesfor millennia…it’s not likely to be sanitised anytime soon.Transformingit into a Florida theme park is nothing butan American wet-dream.
The real world is made up of places where little brown feet run through real dust, real town-squares, create theatrical venues of one kind or another for pleasure, where graffiti artists do their stuff in random ways, where people build mosques and churches to direct incantations at real or virtual realities…where exceptionality means diversity!
Sophocles was familiar with hubris.“Who was thy teacher? not me thinks thy art” spoke Oedipus…and perhaps it’s time for America’s riddle solvers to stand in Sophocles’ sandals a moment and reflect on human nature as he so artfully did? The American state …the modern state…has the Pentagon covering its back and ‘academia’ hooked up to the electronic storage of limitless data. Its’ can-do culture is the sum-total of its’ straight lines…the Money Trail…Wall Street, The Military Industrial Complex, Corporate Investment…and the best it can do is waste its’ vast wealth on war machinery. Sadly, there is no political movementaround thatcan solve the riddle and remove the Sphinx that bloodies everything that stands in its way.
Dwight D. Eisenhower discovered in the eleventh hour of his presidency…better late than never…the tyranny of straight lines. He may even have thought that excessive regimentation was anti-democratic. Banishing cyclical ingenuity from American math meant that diplomacy was relegated to the dumpster.He saw that The Military Industrial Complex and Wall Street…old testicle manual partners…had come together to create the-mother-of-all-sphinx riddles for ‘our’ delectation.He alerted America to the fact that this bloated consortium’s misuse of the clarion call might be the sound of dystopian American woodpeckers reshaping the tree-of-knowledge in the Armageddon image.
Denis A. Conroy, Freelance writer, Australia