As a few of you know one of my favorite Heinlein books is Puppet Masters and part of the reason for that is the idea of a hidden world under the world we all know. This has been an attraction of mine since at least 12, when I began living in a secret world. I.e. the things I read in the paper, the person I had to pretend to be at school to get good grades, the things they “taught” me that I had to pretend to believe were the daylight world and what could be shared with everyone else.
Underneath it was what I knew wasn’t so. (Though the full extent of some lies, like the kindly, idealistic Soviet Union only became evident when I read The Gullag Archipelago at 14.)
If this sounds like a recipe for insanity, it is. It is also, I think, where a lot of people broke. If schools, and media and even entertainment and even entertainment translated from places like America which we all knew were bastions of the right wing, all reinforced certain memes — the kindly altruistic communist; the greedy industrialist; the oppressed worker; the saintly victim of society, etc – then how could I dare believe that what I saw with my own eyes was true?
I dared because I saw it, and because I have a good dose of stubborn as heck baked into me. I come from a long line of stubborn as heck people.
However note that my generation in Portugal by and large turned out not leftist (even if they are sometimes reflexively right in the European sense.) There is a reason for that.
If you were raised in a cocoon of artificial narrative, when you find one thing about it was a lie, you assume it was all lies. Being raised in that sort of environment where “everyone agrees” and there is “one truth” and everyone else are fringe or “wing nuts” is a danger, because once the cocoon breaks, the tendency is to assume everything you’ve ever known is a lie.
Keep that in mind. There will be a quiz later. (Actually it’s important for a later point.)
So, Heinlein’s Puppet Masters (and I don’t care if Patterson calls it piece work or what have you) hit a point with me, from the moment that he goes in through a secret entrance, but really all of the book. There are at least three other novels to write there, and the one I can’t write, the one that scares the heck out of me, the one that would turn out to be probably dark and dreary, is the one of the person living in the masquerade, as it falls apart around them.
(Toni W. once told me I have a tendency to start with my characters knowing nothing, and that it would be better for the plot if they started out knowing exactly what they’re facing. She’s right of course. And I hate to start with characters who know nothing or are so strange to the environment that nothing makes sense. That’s been part of the issue with Through Fire. I HAD to start there. It was the character I had. I tried Simon’s head but Oh, my, no. But someone or other said that everything we write is biography. Hence my books tend to be about people who think they KNOW reality and they know what’s true. And then it shifts under their feet. They find everything they’ve ever known is a lie, and they have to choose to charge on or go back into the cocoon of illusion. This is why the sf trilogy that’s planned (OMG, yes, I DO have a lot to write) will probably be indie. It’s so much that, I think it would drive Toni nuts.)
The part that scares me most about puppet masters is exactly The Masquerade. The non-possessed people living there thought all life was normal. The news, all organs of information went on as normal. And meanwhile, more than half of their neighbors – maybe their family members – were aliens.
You can imagine it going on. Sometimes I wonder if we’re living in something like that. (Okay, show me proof that they’re not controlled by mounds of tapioca between their shoulders! How would anything our government does be different?)
I will say right up front that I see why we needed a public education system with a semblance of unity. At least we needed a “things every American knows.” Yesterday night, I read The League” the True Story of Average Americans on The Hunt for WWI Spies by Bill Mills. I read it because it’s on KULL and because there are spies in the Dragon books, and technically, it has a WWI “feel” to it.
However, let me say it’s partly a lie. I mean, the title. A lot of it was the American Protective League hunting for other people: draft dodgers, people who talked down the war effort, etc. I’ll talk about it a day this week, because if you think that we’re in perilous authoritarian government times, you mustn’t know much about Woodrow Wilson. Never mind.
The point is that reading the book makes it clear how fragmented people were, and how many unassimilated and with no intention of assimilating immigrant communities there were. And how that could be a danger in a world where countries were fighting for their nation, not necessarily for any principle. (WWI.)
I think the book has a slant and I think they didn’t realize how they made me want to kill the Wobblies with fire, (because they sounded just like what we’re fighting) but that’s something else (of course, back then they couldn’t know everything they thought was wrong. Which brings us around to our premise again.
To make the United States competitive in a world of race/breed/history based nation states, our leaders (ah!) though they had to forge unity. By the seventies this was unity under the narrative, hence the Department of Education. Because there was one right set of beliefs…
The problem is between that and the press which had fallen for the seduction of “rule by the smart people” and flattered themselves they were smart, and an entertainment industry that had been taken over by progressives after WWI and was monolithically progressive after WWII, we got the narrative. Good, undiluted propaganda from the top, not that much different from USSR propaganda, where most of the memes originated.
Most of the organs supposed to educate, inform, amuse us were wearing a mass of tapioca between their shoulders.
They still are, only now it’s coming apart because we can talk among ourselves and reach crowds, and that makes it harder for the “narrative” to stick.
We’re seeing that with the UVA rape hoax, with Lena Dunham, the author of a poorly watched show who, nonetheless got given the gold ticket of promotion to the top of the bestselling world on her tawdry “autobiography” and who was crowned the “voice of her generation” and who, it turns out, is the voice of the neurotic liars of her generation, only.
Then there is this: New York Mag’s Boy Genius Investor Made It All Up.
Monday’s edition of New York magazine includes an irresistible story about a Stuyvesant High senior named Mohammed Islam who had made a fortune investing in the stock market. Reporter Jessica Pressler wrote regarding the precise number, “Though he is shy about the $72 million number, he confirmed his net worth is in the “’high eight figures.’” The New York Post followed up with a story of its own, with the fat figure playing a key role in the headline: “High school student scores $72M playing the stock market.”
It’s a lie. Of course it is a lie. But it serves the narrative of the genius, who can make it to the very wealthy in a manner that’s approved (the stock market) and who is of interesting ethnic origin and… Too good to check. Because the narrative has been with us so long that we echo it without realizing, that we “feel” it’s right even when we know it’s wrong.
Now, for me, this is the straw that broke the camel’s back.
The rape hoaxes? Sure, I know they’d do that, because the president wants more power over campus and because the left is afraid of males. BUT this? Qui Bono?
It’s only a series of impulses, of undefined “fits the narrative.”
Which – jornolist apart is what unifies the narrative of the left. They all have this same vague idea of what’s in and what’s out, and each independently carries his dram of water for it. Hard to prove, and it makes people who believe their lying eyes feel like crazy, when all the “best people” coordinate like this.
Heinlein once said there was no event Time reported that he had been at that Time reported even close to the truth.
I’m starting to believe he was right and it’s not just Time: it’s all of the MSM, all the learned monographs, all the education system.
The problem is this: what do you do when the masquerade falls down. It’s falling down and it will continue. It has to, because you know, the only way a masquerade can be kept is with full control over everything the masses see and hear. That might be why the left thinks 1984 is a how-to manual. But you see, they might have been better off letting us go to space. Yeah, they’d have lost control over some of us. OTOH the computer revolution where the techies went to play instead, will cost them control of all of us except the willingly enslaved.
So as the narrative breaks, as the earth shifts under our feet and the sky comes tumbling down, what are we left with?
The problem with leaving the cocoon is that you don’t know the boundaries outside it. You start questioning everything. Everything you’ve ever known proves to be a lie, that means you known nothing, like a babe unborn.
I’m trying to read a lot of older primary sources, to identify where we went wrong, but my fear is that we’ll hurtle back to “our loved Egyptian night.” That is, I’m afraid that once the progressive narrative is proven wrong we’ll try to hurtle back to the less liberal factions of the eighteen hundreds – or before. There are already people online going that way.
The problem with that is that way of life is dead. The same technology that made it unviable then has continued, and it has spawned other tech. That would not work now. Small things, like personal communication devices, like the pill, like modern medicine, like robotics – all make that way of life unviable, save for a very short, very painful time.
Note I’m not saying all of those developments are good or bad – but they have changed our environment and us. And society could not be as it was before the coordinated lies of the “progressives.”
So, where do we go from here?
Where we always went. The future is never assured, and the more I read the more I think the beginnings of the progressive era about 100 years ago were worse.
We can survive this. We can forge the future we want for our kids. Take what we can from the past and believe our lying eyes. Some things, like human nature, are immutable. Some precepts such as “envy is corrosive for individuals and society” are immutable.
Take what you can and build. Expose lies when we can. The overcoat must be pulled off and the shoulder-rider shown to the world. Resist the temptation to hurtle into some old philosophy that “explains everything.” We should always have suspected progressivism BECAUSE the parts fit too well and all the lies supported each other. Real life is not that coherent.
Start from the fact that a cocoon is a lie, and it lies shattered at your feet. It’s time to try out your new wings. Yes, your world is in ruins, but the world you can build is so much bigger and better and brighter, because there’s some things we can now do.
I see the sky tumbling down.
Be not afraid. The future is wide open and it’s ours to build.