ConfessionS of an Iconoclast (Part II)
“As if the blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world.” ~ Albert Camus
“The Theatre of the Absurd attacks the comfortable certainties of religious or political orthodoxy. It aims to shock its audience out of complacency, to bring it face to face with the harsh facts of the human situation as these writers see it. But the challenge behind this message is anything but one of despair. It is a challenge to accept the human condition as it is, in all its mystery and absurdity, and to bear it with dignity, nobly, responsibly; precisely because there are no easy solutions to the mysteries of existence, because ultimately man is alone in a meaningless world. The shedding of easy solutions, of comforting illusions, may be painful, but it leaves behind it a sense of freedom and relief. And that is why, in the last resort, the Theatre of the Absurd does not provoke tears of despair but the laughter of liberation.” ~ Martin Esslin, introduction, Absurd Drama
In continuing with deconstructing the characters and style used in my book, Enmeshed Within, the above quotes best identify the nature of the storytelling within the book. Suffice it to mention that within these blogs I cannot give away too much of the plot for those that have not read the book. However, I would like to give an analysis for Enmeshed Within, to give an explanation and to prepare readers for the why behind the style chosen in writing the book.
As stated in my blog, Confessions of an Iconoclast (Part 1), Jimmy’s observations within social settings are identified by him as banal, cliché, and mundane; however, there is always the sense of the absurd. When we identify with a worldview that posits our being as absurd and lacking meaning, then one finds solace with a feeling of liberation. The freedom that recognizes existence as absurd is not the same as that posited by existentialists. For example, at the end of Jean Paul Sartre’s, No Exist, the conclusion is that “hell is other people” the absurdist’s would never come to such an assumption or that deduction. The absurdist delights in his/her freedom; whereas, the existentialist knows he/she is free but feels the burden of creating meaning where there is none.
Whereas, the character Jimmy is existential in his weltanschauung found on the pages of Enmeshed Within, I impose the absurd upon the unfolding leading up to the denouement in the book. It is amazing that those that actually read the book Enmeshed Within did not detect or mention the scenes involving slapstick. Instead, invariably, the readers responded when asked about these comedic moments(viz), “oh yeah, that was funny.” These readers were so captivated by the macabre style of Enmeshed Within that the essence of the absurd was lost on them. More often than not, these readers were quick to point out how messed up Jimmy appeared. These same readers did not even offer the caveat as to how crazy or messed up he seemed to them particularly. The crazy or messed up statements stated by these readers can only be digested as a general blanket commentary lacking any real critical thinking.
Of course, it does seem redundant to have to explain to the reader that the synopsis of the book found on the back cover states: “after returning from a psychiatric ward recovering from a breakdown caused by the trauma … as his world oscillates between jaded reality and nightmarish psychosis.” The latter description should probably serve as a beacon or red flag that Enmeshed Within is something intense and beyond consensus thinking. The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard stated that “once you label me you negate me.” Using the sage observation from Kierkegaard and applying it to the character Jimmy, is it possible the readers simply labeling Jimmy as crazy are also negating the reasoning behind what they construe as crazy? Is it that reading Enmeshed Within has uncovered a cognitive pathology within those readers – an unknown cognitive dissonance residing in the readers of Enmeshed Within and not the characters of the book found therein?
“People understand me so poorly that they don't even understand my complaint about them not understanding me.” ~ Soren Kierkegaard
As stated on my previous blog: Confessions of an Iconoclast (Part1), many readers and viewers of fictional works tend to accept brutal horror in books and films that lack a coherent reasoning behind the verbal and visual revulsions presented. Enmeshed Within presents historical figures that are perceived as monsters and attempts to demonstrate some justification and rational behind their monstrosities. Through these historical bestial figures that preyed upon entire populations of people, a mirror is being held up before Jimmy. The brutish nightmarish hallucinations Jimmy witnesses’ serve to unveil the delusion that his lust for revenge is any different than those of these historical fiends.
What is implied here is that as long as acts of horror remain buried in the subconscious and approached only through the nightmarish landscape lying outside of his/her cognizance, the conscious mind can then accept acts of malevolence without recognizing the psychosis dormant within himself/herself. However, would if the cognitive reasoning of our brain attempted to understand evil and our own responsibility and role in its perpetuation? Would the shock to our ego that such levels of brutal malfeasance might exist as essential to our very being that it might even have us distant it and project it upon others – even if those others exist only in the realms of hallucinations? If a person is unprepared for confronting to a battle conjuring hallucinations manifesting from the hidden vaults of the subconscious, he/she might thrice remove it into the realm of watching it transform upon the silver screen.
Here is the reality: Our culture appeases the vast majority of people through the media and movie industry. The horror film has de-evolved further into slasher films. Just as the ancient Romans espoused to being upstanding citizens and from good families, these same Roman citizens delighted in the bloodlust of the Roman circuses. Today, families enjoy Thanksgiving dinner together in the warmth of their homes and even greet the meal in prayer, and yet, the teenagers will gather after dinner and watch the same kind of blood lust take place in a movie.
What is also true is that when nations prepare to invade another country under the banners and slogans that will justify the savagery acts of war, a minute portion of the population actually partake in the brutal force and violence. In the current times, the populace of developed countries are not even required to sacrifice anything in the form of rations. The blood shed occurs and it doesn’t even interrupt the public’s shopping routine or infringe on mass production and consumption one whit.
“In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.” Friedrich Nietzsche
The vast majority of people construct their perspective from a point of consensus. It is because of this consensual way of adhering to a worldview that allows for a dialectic way of thinking. There is the thesis, anti-thesis, and the synthesis: argument, counter argument, and compromise. Following a dialectic approach to reasoning automatically deprives the chance for other alternatives. It could be argued that the synthesis/compromise scenario would allow for other options, but not when dealing with trying to appease both parties. It is difficult enough to try let either party accept the counter arguments from their interlocutor, let alone any alternatives outside the scope of both parties.
Before being published, I had Enmeshed Within edited by an experienced and knowledgeable person in the field. One of the comments that I received back from this professional editor stated that she believed that I had achieved “somewhat” in making Jimmy a sympathetic character. However, the editor also added the caveat that I had to beware that Jimmy’s rather cynical commentary on his surrounding social settings might alienate or turn off the readers, because this is the kind of society that the reader is accustomed to and lives every day. I am not quoting directly from the editor, but I could produce the commentary. In addition, the implication was to beware not be aware. As author of Enmeshed Within, I must reject this premise based on what is stated above in this blog.
If horror has been relegated to being something psychotically depraved beyond the constructs of critical thought, how can the reader take a historical account for the reasoning behind the dreadful acts that have served numerous epochs? If we cannot understand the past, how can we ever hope to understand the present. If the reader is simply a byproduct of social engineering with all its media influences that form every argument in the black and white charade of a dialectic, how can an author serve the responsibility of introducing a unique perspective – something outside the two channel discussions we listen and see twenty-four seven from bloviating talking heads on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC? The latter are the echo chambers of the narcissistic socio-path that sell false patriotism, as well as manipulate rather than mold minds.
Enmeshed Within demonstrates clearly that Jimmy has compassion, but he simply refuses to act upon it for fear of its deception. He creates and reinvents himself as a cold dispassionate and cynical observer. Unlike the pseudo-patriots with all their faux-platitudes of concern and hero worship for those serving in the military, Jimmy can experience the pain through many of his drug induced visions relating to what his father went through during battles in war. Jimmy certainly entertains revenging Carla’s death with a plan to brutally murder his father, but Jimmy also understands that his father is a wounded soul. In the same way that Jimmy is a wounded soul.
Jimmy is an intelligent and sensitive soul that rides the ecstasy of Carla’s seductive nature, but he is at the same time traumatized by the painful existence of what he knows. The roller coaster rides of ecstasy and trauma based experiences produced by observing suffering soon creates a disassociation within Jimmy. Once disassociation prevails as an elixir to the trauma, reality falls apart and enters the brain like a thousand reflections seen through shattered shards of a glass mirror.
“All great things must first wear terrifying and monstrous masks, in order to inscribe themselves on the hearts of humanity.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
It is not a matter of Jimmy being crazy, as it is a matter of Jimmy not being able to have a healthy internal argument. Because Jimmy cannot confront the darker aspects of his nature due to a belief that he is justified in his seeking revenge upon his father, he then generates demons from his irreconcilable internal strife but refuses to recognize any compatibility with his thinking comporting to those very same demons. The historical psychopaths from the past challenge Jimmy to justify his pursuit for avenging Carla’s death. In his quest to retaliate against Carla’s death, Jimmy confronts not only the banal/mundane but also the absurd. Although, Jimmy trivializes the absurd, because it challenges his concept that his actions are actually noble instead of an unreconciled anguish.
Many of the stories from family, friends, and acquaintances in Enmeshed Within are taken from observations witnessed by the author. The latter thought it an interesting exercise to place these ridiculous stories in Enmeshed Within to measure the readers sense for the absurd. The absurd acts as a contrast to both Jimmy’s self-importance for revenge and the macabre guidance he receives from demons and hallucinations. The haunting crisp autumn night that serves as the backdrop for Enmeshed Within intersperses with the churning power of locomotive trains and the seething humming of the steel mill.
Jimmy stares up the railroad tracks and realizes how endless and repetitive existence seems. The industrial complex breaths all around him like a monster waiting unnoticed in the undercurrents of the city. Although the railroad tracks appear linear, in reality, they lead to another set of cities and towns that are simply clones of an emblematic city – with the same blueprint – same quiet and wounded suffering. The locomotive represents the brute power of an uncaring system. The steel mill burns away into the night forging what is the hard core facts of reality.
Existence is cyclical and there is no concatenation to history, i.e., a linear progression in history with an ultimate and all transpiring goal. There is nothing causal in history. Cause and effect can only be observed in the micro corners of science; however, no one knows the cause for the existence of the universe – nor can the existence of the latter merely be relegated to random occurrence. Existence appears meaningless, but the knowledge, responsibility, and skills are there for one to give meaning and purpose to existence. Jimmy acknowledges an existential current surrounding him, but he still wants to know the cause as to why it is that things are such. If only Jimmy could negate the existential and accept the absurd, causality would then give way to finding a destiny.
Social engineering and programming are two constructs that keep readers maintaining the position that fiction delivered in any particular medium should remain linear. Everything in a literary work or movie script today follows the same formula. In our current modern society, movies and novels are more interested in sociological aspects of the story rather than philosophical. In fact, today’s literary critiques often haphazardly conflate sociology with philosophy.
For example, the environment, the interplay between characters, and the scenes leading up to the denouement all serve to unfold the story modernist manifestation (Confessions of an Iconoclast Part 3 will discuss postmodernism). There are novels written today that are abstract, but the intellectual and radical literary style usually overshadow the novel's story line. Whereas, Enmeshed Within proffers a schism: the environment with its autumn breeze, rustling leaves, and black clouds swirling around the moon, its social settings debauched in drunken fights, songs, and forgetting, the industrial behemoth of the railroad, steel mill, and tractor-trailer busy warehouses, are all juxtaposed with no cohesion. The only constants are the appearance of demons and hallucinations.
Jimmy’s positing throughout Enmeshed Within is one that exposes the banal and confronts the intriguing horrors buried in the shadows of the city and forgotten through history. There are three issues that I have determined that makes a reader ill-prepared to cognitively process the dialogue between Jimmy and his demons/hallucinations:
The Dialectic - a preponderance in only processing information presented and playing out as a false dichotomy.
Social Engineering – a willful campaign perpetuated by government and media to create news and works of fiction only in the form of the dialectic/false dichotomy.
Predictive Programming – presenting in movies and other works of fiction situations that in later years have a striking similarity to actual events.
First, the audience accepts all arguments through the dialectic discourse. Only two sides are presented with the only alternative being that of a compromise between the thesis and anti-thesis. Never considered are other alternatives that would negate the premise of the thesis and anti-thesis presented, and thus the audience is given a false dichotomy. The preponderance of a false dichotomy that is now aired 24/7 on broadcast news begins to engineer the audience’s perspective from only two angles. The audience swings its head back and forth between two political sides, as if watching a tennis match. In reality, the audience is being hypnotized, because the same action of that of watching a tennis match is the very same motion of a patient being put into a trance by a swing pendulum, such as a pocket watch swinging from a vest chain.
Once the condition is achieved in hypnotizing the audience with a world of duality mixed in with options from other controlled opposition, the industry of Hollywood and major publishers act to guide the audience into entertainment that actually introduces formulated plans that present ideas the audience will accept sometime in the near future. In this way, the movie and news industry are partners in assimilating the public to the dynamics of society already planned by the-powers-that-be.
One overplayed tool, or one would think that it would be overplayed by now, are all the movies and works of fiction today that deal with “dystopia.” Writing with a main plot line unfolding in an imaginary dystopia is a cheap parlor trick. It demands nothing from the writer, because everything falls into plausible deniability that such things take place in an imaginary world. These works of fiction with these over used dystopia worlds try to use CGI and special effects to simply find the short way out with something akin to Deus ex Machina. More importantly what happens is that the public now views dystopia as something taking place as actuality in the future – collapse of the civilization is imminent – therefore, the public will be less reticent to ignore the apocalyptic news items spewed from the talking heads littering the airwaves.
When an audience watches the news programming on television, the critical thinking part of the brain is activated because the audience knows the news is commenting on reality. However, when an audience watches a fictional movie, the critical thinking guard is down and thus ideas can be introduced to the audience without the cognitive faculties coming into full play. When the news reports something similar in its reporting that seemed to take place in a movie, the audience has already seen it in fiction and therefore accepts it unconditionally.
For more on the positing above, I would have the readers read or watch YouTube material presented by Alan Watt and Terence McKenna. The reason the above is mentioned in this blog essay is that the vast majority of people in our society really do not connect with the nature of things, but rather, an induced panacea of a constructed reality that assimilates reality from advertisements, books, game videos, movies, music industry, news resources, and sporting events. It is all manufactured. Just as most movies and novels are written in such a way so that members of the audience can identify with the characters. The identity is not a real one, but only an avatar. The audience falls head over heels with heroes and anti-heroes, as the latter plays out what is bottled inside most members of any said audience. Movies and sporting events are simply a catharsis, not anything connected with healthy psychological and spiritual development. Hollywood is a better mind control tool for the populace than any government manipulation and government does use Hollywood for its own end, not vice versa as some would have you believe.
The character Jimmy in Enmeshed Within is neither a hero or anti-hero. Jimmy is plagued by the societal dialectic consensus and his internal strife conducting itself into further psychosis. One might attempt to explain Jimmy’s dilemma as a dialectic, but Jimmy cannot connect to any synthesis, and this is why he disassociates until the hallucinatory world becomes more prevalent. Jimmy wants to annihilate what he sees as the iconic figures that manipulate people upon a chess board. Jimmy wants to light his own little fire in a murderous symbolistic ritual as an act of revolution. The problem is that Jimmy is still confined to the tactics of the matrix he finds himself. He cannot detach from his disdain. He cannot laugh at the inevitable. He cannot face the uncertainty intimacy brings.
The strife within Jimmy is not so much his psychosis or entertaining murderous thoughts, but rather, his quandary is applying labels instead of understanding motives. The shit-charade-parade of atheists, exoteric religions of all affiliations, feminists, tea partiers, right wing conservatives, liberal minded progressives, military salutes with all their badges and honors, the single-parent dilemma, the gay couple making a stab at fitting into society, the accommodating mangina, the chocolate eating movie watcher, the truth of unfairness, the death knell of rock stars that faked their deaths, the political correctness of the social justice warriors (SJW), and all the other comedy troupes sharing our existence are without meaning or purpose.
Therein lies the problem for Jimmy, because he cannot phantom the risible nature of being. Diving furthermore into intellectual complexities, Jimmy wants to piece together a chivalrous world at the expense of knowing the true dynamics that are opposed to chivalry. The licentious Carla is given a pass from him because she defies conformity, but Jimmy has to place Carla on a pedestal to defeat the reality that she cannot be true to any one man/person. It is not so much that Jimmy’s father has betrayed him through bedding Carla, but Jimmy has deceived himself that he could possess such a creature as Carla for his own beckoning and pleasure.
Jimmy believes that his suffering for a cause to capture a lady of the night such as Carla will justify his pursuit of her for his own ends. Furthermore, Jimmy deludes himself into believing that returning to the dysfunctional lifestyle of his hometown will illustrate an ultimate opposition to the grandiose intellectual posturing he endures from academia. Simply put in Shakespearian terms, Jimmy wants to equate the world of Falstaff on the same terms as that of Henry V, and does it in reverse fashion. In Shakespeare’s play Henry IV, the young Prince Henry (Hal) is friends with a ragtag group of criminal headed by the “bloat knight” Falstaff. Once Prince Henry is about to assume the throne he betrays/casts Falstaff from his life:
“I know thee not, old man: fall to thy prayers;
How ill white hairs become a fool and jester!
I have long dream’d of such a kind of man,
So surfeit-swell’d, so old and so profane;
But, being awaked, I do despise my dream.
Make less thy body hence, and more thy grace;
Leave gormandizing; know the grave doth gape
For thee thrice wider than for other men.
Reply not to me with a fool-born jest:
Presume not that I am the thing I was;
For God doth know, so shall the world perceive,
That I have turn’d away my former self;
So will I those that kept me company.
When thou dost hear I am as I have been,
Approach me, and thou shalt be as thou wast,
The tutor and the feeder of my riots:
Till then, I banish thee, on pain of death,
As I have done the rest of my misleaders,
Not to come near our person by ten mile.
For competence of life I will allow you,
That lack of means enforce you not to evil:
And, as we hear you do reform yourselves,
We will, according to your strengths and qualities,
Give you advancement. Be it your charge, my lord,
To see perform’d the tenor of our word. Set on.”
Jimmy does what Prince Henry did in reverse fashion, and betrays/casts off the world of academia and embraces the ragtag criminal outfit run by his father. In an effort to escape from the knowledge he has acquired, Jimmy seeks the carnal drug induced world of the dysfunctional. Even though he also despises the posturing and weakness of the defective wounded creatures that he comes in contact with, he recognizes that he shares the same nature of the latter. It is as if he is on a tether seeking to break free from an environment of his own choosing.
Carla is the ultimate prize for Jimmy, because she is unique in her voluptuous seductiveness. Furthermore, Jimmy returns to his father in the hope of reconciliation. The irony lies in the fact that it was Jimmy’s father wanting an academic education for his son. It is upon his return from academia that Jimmy discovers his father is sleeping with Carla. Jimmy breaks down. He no longer seeks sanctuary in higher truths and virtue. He is alone. Isolated. There is no way out of here. Trapped, he goes insane, caught with his unresolved reconciliation and confronting human nature – desire, lust, and validation, thus he hallucinates the greater dilemma of unresolved issues from historical psychopaths.
The character Debbie in Enmeshed Within is the most suited for a well-adjusted Jimmy, but she equates to the mundane manufactured lives of Jimmy’s hometown and certainly is not on his intellectual level. Debbie represents the maternal and Sophia. The latter is the eternal Mother Spirit. Jimmy cannot trust Sophia. His world is absurd, comical and nightmarish, but he only recognizes the horrific hallucinations that engulf him.
In the final analysis, Jimmy is trapped in the existential world conducting itself without meaning. However, the truth lies in the fact that our existence is absurd and represented in the comedy of silent movies. Once an individual accepts the dark truth of an existential existence, he/she turns to the liberation of absurdity. Comedy and slapstick becomes the actions of the truly courageous. Once we delve into the world of the absurd, it is then we can create spiritual awareness – (to be continued).