Caligula, while Emperor, commemorated a whole lot of “victories” which he decided he had achieved because cheese and also radioactive penguins. Or rather because he knew the Roman people were a war-like and proud people and needed victories and triumphs.
The most notorious of these were victories overNeptune which consisted of having the mighty Roman legions collect sea shells. BUT there were also “victories” over the Germans and Britain.
One wonders what exactly was going on through Roman minds at the time. Perhaps younger Romans were all enthused and the older people were going “what the actual flan?”
BUT we’re not here to discuss reincarnation ;), we’re here to discuss what you’re told, even with the mighty apparatus of state propaganda and a castrati press behind it, and what you see with your lying eyes.
Recently in a private group, someone from abroad asked about American economy and if it really is improving as all the papers abroad report. The answers surprised even me.
I mean, I know from my limited sphere that even those who are doing well have made sacrifices and — at a guess — have come down about two levels in lifestyle since 2008. But it was a gradual step, so I didn’t expect most people to have noticed. And when the trade offs are things like “no vacation” it’s not a serious step down. I mean, most of the people we know are better off than us, so looking at their lifestyles I see the difference, but I didn’t even know if they did.
Of course my friends in artistic professions and feeding what can be called the discretionary spending part of the economy have noticed. I have. Though weirdly the big difference is that income goes even more in bursts. Judging by self this is because people TRY to be good, but then really need something to read on a really crappy day, and end up reading/buying an entire series they’ve been putting off in three days, flat. Other than that, our income might have gone up. As a dear friend keeps telling me, recessions/depressions are good for writers’ income. People need to be able to escape, even if to their imagination.
What I find fascinating though, is that these people, from varying income levels and all over the country (with a smattering of abroad) saw it, as I did. The dingying of every day life, the precariousness of economic “security”. The friends who lose jobs and then find a succession of them, none of which lasts. The sky-rocketing energy (particularly in a city fed by a coal plant.) The compromises: we won’t go out this month, we’ll celebrate all birthdays with a dinner in the middle month. That sort of thing.
Everyone sees it, everyone is uneasy. This despite the playing with numbers, the endless propaganda shoved down our throats.
And I should have figured it out, too, because even the press has stopped shouting “Summer of recovery.” And I’ve heard total strangers laugh about the unemployment, GDP or inflation numbers in super market lines. And it is that sort of horse laugh people only do when they know it’s totally ridiculous and everyone agrees with them.
I’m starting to believe the only people fooled are the administration, the president, and those who work for them. After all no one tells Caligula that stealing a few seashells is not a victory. Would you doubt the existence of mighty Neptune, you heathen? Or the might of the Emperor?
And thus they spin ever further from reality and bring us ridiculousness like the idea that a climate conference is a “strong rebuke” to head choppers.
But it’s not working. I mean, they’re keeping the lid somewhat on. Most of the people on the street probably don’t know how disastrous our foreign policy REALLY is, or how it’s done nothing but set up the chess board for world war three. But even they have that feeling on the back of the neck, the prickling that says something wicked this way comes.
Because here’s the thing: no matter how much you curate the narrative. No matter how much you proclaim and twist and make it all make sense in this parallel world where “progressive” (they’re actually only progressive for the 1930s. Since then they’ve all been shown wrong. “Regressive” would make more sense) theory works, reality doesn’t care. The gods of the copybook headings aren’t moved by pretty words. And most of the seriously indoctrinated people in our society only learn to spin words and create “narrative.” And not in an honest way, like novelists.
Yesterday younger son, who has been on a tear against the Berniacs in his age group, said “I despair for my age group; we’ve been so indoctrinated” and I laughed and told him so was mine. It usually lasts till your early thirties and then it implodes unless you’re a case of arrested development, still living with mommy and daddy.
And he said “How does it implode?” And I said “Reality. The cold fish of reality slaps you across the face, and you realize what works, what doesn’t, and how ruinous these nice-sounding policies are.”
That in the end is it. The triumph is amusing, and hey, gathering seashells never hurt anyone.
But in the end, the sea is still there and will still rage. In the end, the real enemies, domestic and foreign, are still there, too, ready to spring.
An administration whose primary function is to dispense Soma is ultimately an enemy within, lulling us until the trap springs shut. But the thing is at this point they’re the ones taking the soma. Heck, they’re bogarting the soma.
The rest of us are wide awake.
Which is why in the end we win, they lose.
The question is, do they maintain the shell of narrative long enough so the explosion will be truly spectacular and that the gods of the copybook headings return in fire and blood? Or do they lose enough grip that it goes down not with a bang but with a whimper.
I know which one I prefer. Build under, build over, build around, so when their rotten structure collapses we’re ready.
But the choice is not only ours.