Sunday, March 26, 2006

Conspiracies as Fantasy's Reality Support


At the Dissensus forum, poster Blunt writes:

"I'm wondering to what degree the prevalence of easy conspiracy theories is an inevitable result of how much of the West's experience of the world is mediated. Mediation creates for us the illusion of understanding 'how things work' on a macro-level, but the process of mediation (especially where mass media are concerned) typically - inherently? - involves the subject matter being wrapped up into a tight story, with beginning, middle and end, good guys and bad guys etc. This makes the message that much more palatable (and impactful) - but it generally doesn't have that much to do with the real world."

"A story is defined as much by what it excludes as what it includes, and real life tends to be rather more subtle than an episode of 24. It's usually the absence of these shades of grey that makes most conspiracy theories ring fairly hollow for me; it's their very consistency and narrowly-defined coherence that makes me doubt their veracity."

"I think Alasdair Spark summed up this idea best at the event I mentioned upthread. He concluded his part of the evening by saying: "I'm not sure I believe in 'truth' at all; which is not to say that I don't believe in reality." How often have I thought the same; but seldom expressed it so well ."


"Jake ... it's Chinatown"
The "perplexity" of the conspiracy "phenomenon", its symbiotic structure of belief, does have implications at the narrative (and postmodern) level. We can dismiss conspiracies as literal impossibilities but nonetheless an unresolved tension remains which suggests that simply rejecting them outright as obscurantist delirial raving is also reactionary.

And isn't what Blunt above defines as "mediation" yet another term for culture generally, actual social quotidian reality, itself a mere cultural construction, of the synbolic network of the Big Other? And if he believes that all of this is mere illusion [as he suggests above], a dream world, that serves to mask a real world behind it [quote: "but it generally doesn't have that much to do with the real world"], then doesn't HE TOO believe that the everyday social world we inhabit is a manufactured conspiracy serving to hide the really real (eg the world of power and capital) that lies behind it (analogous, for instance, to The Matrix narrative, among numerous other pomo conspiracy film narratives: the list, in fact, is endless)?

The problem here is that one cannot actually or simply separate fantasy from reality (to say, for example, that "this here is fake, but that there is real" etc): reality is dependent for its very consistency on fantasy, on phantasmatic support - if you "remove" the illusion, reality too collapses, and vice versa. In other words, "real" reality is structurally inaccessible in and of itself - the closer you get to it the more it distorts. This impossible-but-true phenomenon of the inaccessibility of reality, of course, has been well known in modern science since the discovery of Quantum Mechanics and Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, and in psychoanalysis since Freud's and Lacan's theories, and, incidentally, in political economy since Marx's analysis of the unrepresentability, the abstract nature, of power and capital.

So the paradox of conspiracies [and debates about them] is that they establish an ontological conflict between, on the one hand, a reality in which the sources of power, capital, corruption, etc are revealed or exposed, and on the other hand, a reality in which a perceptual obsession with secretive cabals and subterranean forces behind the everyday experiences is evidence of paranoia, hysteria, insanity. Conspiracy stories and narratives endeavour to map the "unrepresentable negative sublimity of Capital" (Jameson), so invoking a tension between an analysis of the impersonal forces of power and capital, and an "explanation" of power that concentrates on the actions of a mysterious, specific group or cabal.

[And isn't Sparks' sentiment, which Blunt quotes above, the ultimate in postmodern disavowal of belief, viz "I know that there is no ultimate truth or reality, but nevertheless I privately believe that there is ..."?? ie. he too believes in the notion of an underlying conspiracy in spite of his "disavowing" of it.]

The rational difficulty that arises with the outright rejection of all conspiracies of whetever ilk - because they're too "simple" or too "ridiculous" or just downright paranoid and devoid of "common sense" (another ideological construction) - is that the very power relations that conspiracies hint at or point to are also rejected, the worlds of social relations are depoliticised, the real of social power is rejected outright: such a reactionary move is thus away from the collective-political and towards the personal-subjective - one seeks refuge in personal fantasies [eg the imaginary symbolic of New Ageism, etc], which then become the "real" while the "outside" world itself becomes a "fantasy", a dream, a crazy hallucination of meaningless phantasms, appearances and floating signifiers. The result of such a retreat into "solipsistic narcissism", into a limitless fantasy Ego, is the pathology of dissolving all analyses of actual power relations in the external world into mere "subjective neurosis", a reversal of the true state of affairs.

The world of power and capital, however abstract, is real. It is contemporary, postmodern culture, and the ideology underlying it, that seeks to "normalise" itself by disavowing this reality, so rendering this cultural phantasm itself as "natural" and "common sensical" and Real: we have to face facts, we have to recognise limits, we have to play the game, this is all there is, etc. Conspiracies about the power relations underlying that culture serve to challenge and undermine it, and so are therefore attributed to delusion.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
And at a time when a majority of, for instance, Americans, now believe that they were betrayed, manipulated, misled about the illegal invasion of Iraq, among other things, the Bush Admin having used the pretext of 9/11 and the resulting paranoid, permanent "war on terror", isn't it only inevitable that a growing number of Americans will seek out a "conspiracy theory" when their Hollywoodized fantasy world starts to collapse, the "real" of such a conspiracy serving to prop up [suturing or quilting] or regenerate such fantasies??

CNN POLE: Do you agree with Charlie Sheen that the U.S. government covered up the real events of the 9/11 attacks?

Yes = 82% 11,337 votes
No = 18% 2,501 votes
(Total: 13, 838 votes )

So.. Is it safe to come out yet? [via Qlipoth]

Charlie Sheen has at least one thing in common with George Bush: His father played the president on TV for a very long time. But Charlie Sheen is not afraid to question the official story of September 11th as endorsed by George Bush. Sheen's words - and four years of hard work by 9/11 skeptics - are making a difference. It is suddenly allowable to voice your suspicions about September 11th. The official mythology is losing its sway with the American people. Suddenly, a 911Truth.org spokesperson is invited to appear on CNN…

Martin Sheen's son, Charlie Sheen: "We're not the conspiracy theorists on this particular issue. It seems to me like 19 amateurs with box cutters taking over four commercial airliners and hitting 75% of their targets, that feels like a conspiracy theory. It raises a lot of questions."



"It feels like from the people I talk to in and around my circles, it seems like the worm is turning… It is up to us to reveal the truth. It is up to us because we owe it to the families, we owe it to the victims. We owe it to everybody's life who was drastically altered, horrifically that day and forever. We owe it to them to uncover what happened."

"There was a feeling, it just didn't look any commercial jetliner I've flown on any time in my life and then when the buildings came down later on that day I said to my brother 'call me insane, but did it sorta look like those buildings came down in a controlled demolition?"

19 Comments:

Blogger Qlipoth said...

"isn't it only inevitable that a growing number of Americans will seek out a "conspiracy theory" when their Hollywoodized fantasy world starts to collapse, the "real" of such a conspiracy serving to prop up [suturing or quilting] or regenerate such fantasies??"

Well, you assert that it does so, but you don't tell us how; nor do you provide any evidence whatsoever that the "conspiracy theory" does such a thing at all. Indeed, it's impossible to see how it could.

Charlie Sheen believes that the people who govern his country lied about a crime of mass murder that was peculiarly useful to them. Exactly what discredits that belief or makes it prima facie implausible? In what way, exactly, does sharing Sheen's belief serve to prop up, suture or quilt [sic] a "Hollywoodized fantasy world" (sic)?

- warszawa (who posted the quoted thread at Qlipoth)

12:28 AM  
Blogger Qlipoth said...

"The problem here is that one cannot actually or simply separate fantasy from reality (to say, for example, that "this here is fake, but that there is real" etc): reality is dependent for its very consistency on fantasy, on phantasmatic support - if you "remove" the illusion, reality too collapses, and vice versa. In other words, "real" reality is structurally inaccessible in and of itself - the closer you get to it the more it distorts. This impossible-but-true phenomenon of the inaccessibility of reality, of course, has been well known in modern science since the discovery of Quantum Mechanics and Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle..."

The behaviour of quanta (itself still a topic of huge controversy eighty years after Heisenberg) is of little practical or conceptual relevance in the macroscopic world, where reality is verifiably not "structurally inaccessible in and of itself". You can test the veracity of this assertion any day simply by driving the wrong way on the motorway, or else by approaching George W. Bush with a gun in your hand.

warszawa

12:52 AM  
Blogger Padraig said...

warszawa: "In what way, exactly, does sharing Sheen's belief serve to prop up, suture or quilt [sic] a "Hollywoodized fantasy world" (sic)?"

Because, in the same way that the Bush regime scapegoated a few grunts in Abu Ghraib for all the US-sponsored systematic torture there, thus perpetuating their fantasy of sanitised righteousness, Sheen's obsession with in-our-back-yard scapegoating serves to displace the wider geo-political issue of "blowback", of seeing 9/11 as the consequence of him subsiding in a "Hollywoodized fantasy world" [SIC ???] immune from the consequences of Amer-forpol ...

Warszawa, on the self-evident nature of ultimate reality: "You can test the veracity of this assertion any day simply by driving the wrong way on the motorway, or else by approaching George W. Bush with a gun in your hand."

Aren't you confusing/conflating the prerogatives and rules of the Big Other with "reality" here? Like, it would have been real easy to "approach" Adolf Hitler in his bunker circa 1945 either on the "wrong" side of the corridor or with a giant GUN anywhere on your bodily arrangement ... without any veracity-assertion consequences.

1:19 AM  
Blogger Qlipoth said...

"Sheen's obsession with in-our-back-yard scapegoating"

1. What justifies your assertion that Charlie Sheen is "obsessed"? Nothing whatsoever; so I presume that you make that unjustified assertion in order to discredit him. I'm wondering why.

2. Why is it "scapegoating" when Sheen draws our attention to the likelihood that the current rulers of the US have lied - yet again - in order to further their own interests and those of their class?
Please explain. (And please explain why it is not "scapegoating" to assert that Muslim baddies dunnit.)

"...serves to displace the wider geo-political issue of "blowback","

Wait a minute. You are presuming what you have yet to demonstrate: that 9/11 was indeed "blowback"; that the crime was indeed committed by 19 fanatical Muslim students without any support from Americans in the FBI, the CIA, the Pentagon or elsewhere. This, of course, is the very point at issue.

"...of seeing 9/11 as the consequence of him subsiding in a "Hollywoodized fantasy world" [SIC ???] immune from the consequences of Amer-forpol ..."

You mean 9/11 was a consequence of Charlie Sheen being a fairly successful movie star? Presumably not. More likely, you mean that everybody - except perhaps you and a few others gifted with extraordinary insight - subsists in a world of privileged immunity from the consequences of American foreign policy. In that case, it has to be pointed out that US foreign policy for the last four-and-a-half years has consisted almost entirely in an oxymoronic War on Terror predicated on the alleged need for a massive military response to an entirely uninvestigated crime.

So: Exactly how does Sheen's call for an independent investigation of that crime support his alleged desire to continue living in that "Hollywoodized fantasy world"?

(And again, you are asserting - indirectly but no less clearly for all that - that there can be no rational doubt about who committed that crime, and why they did so.)

"Aren't you confusing/conflating the prerogatives and rules of the Big Other with "reality" here?"

No. I'm pointing out the plain fact that cars are not subatomic particles, and that macroscopic reality is verifiably not "structurally inaccessible in and of itself". Sometimes the police even succeed in solving crimes. Today, an unemployed man was arrested in this city for shooting a policeman on Thursday evening. Admittedly, ruling-class suspects are not so easily accessible as disgruntled plebs; but if we want to understand why, Heisenberg's Indeterminacy Principle is of much less use to us than one minute's thought about the privileges and prerogatives of the politically powerful.

"Like, it would have been real easy to "approach" Adolf Hitler in his bunker circa 1945 either on the "wrong" side of the corridor or with a giant GUN anywhere on your bodily arrangement ... without any veracity-assertion consequences."

I don't have the faintest idea what you're trying to say here. Maybe you could explain.

- warszawa

2:20 AM  
Blogger Padraig said...

"... you make that unjustified assertion in order to discredit him. I'm wondering why."

No, and you know why its no ...

Its not the estimated 250,000 slaughtered in Iraq, the estimated 50,000 slaughtered in Afghanistan, the still-unknown number slaughtered in Haiti, it is us [poor Americans] who are the victims, of this evviiillll cabal that we freely elected who did it to us, and so weare free from any culbability, any collusion! We're just real innocent types, why we wouldn't even imagine that we could hurt a fly ... but you know, we've gotta support Hilary in her quest to keep those nasty terrorist immigrants outa' here ... we gotta "support the troops" an' all, just get rid of the Bush cabal and all will be well with the world, we can go back to making real Hollywood movies once again ...

2:43 AM  
Blogger Qlipoth said...

Me: "... you make that unjustified assertion in order to discredit him. I'm wondering why."

Your response in full: "No, and you know why its no ..."

Well, if I knew why it's 'no', I wouldn't ask. So please tell me why. Meanwhile, you reply to not a single point I made; instead, you go about not discrediting Charlie Sheen by imagining his thought-processes precisely as follows:

"it is us [poor Americans] who are the victims, of this evviiillll cabal that we freely elected who did it to us, and so weare free from any culbability, any collusion! We're just real innocent types, why we wouldn't even imagine that we could hurt a fly ... but you know, we've gotta support Hilary in her quest to keep those nasty terrorist immigrants outa' here..."[Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera; and sic.]

Well, this bears no relation whatsoever to what Charlie Sheen actually said. It is a crude fantasy, and it's not his. So, again, I'm wondering why you feel the need to discredit him this way.

To recap: At some personal risk, an American public figure has just attempted to publicise his government's mendacity and evasiveness, and its complicity in a mass murder that is currently being used to justify Endless War worldwide. Your response, Padraig, is to misrepresent him, quite grotesquely, as a whingeing apologist for his own stainless innocence. You do so by making up shit, by pretending that that shit is an accurate representation of his consciousness, and by suggesting that you know things you cannot possibly know.

And I'm still wondering why.

3:15 AM  
Blogger Padraig said...

"Your response, Padraig, is to misrepresent him, quite grotesquely, as a whingeing apologist for his own stainless innocence. You do so by making up shit, by pretending that that shit is an accurate representation of his consciousness, and by suggesting that you know things you cannot possibly know."

You're going hyper here, warszawa: you know perfectly well that if you substituted "Charlie Sheen" for "Padraig" above you might be nearer to the truth of the situation. What have you to gain here by supporting some egotistical, self-serving Hollywood reactionary while simultaneously discrediting me? I am thoroughly familiar with what Sheen's [public] attitudes were 3 /4 years ago and what mine were [do a baby google if you care].

Is it that you too, at the end of the day, support the pathological status quo, of which the SWP is a fully-paid-up part?

I'm not making anything up: Sheen is doing this spectacle for his own PR egotistical advantage [in addition to its phantasmatic reassurance].

Surely you've yet the sense to cop on to this, or have the rigidities of your party machine blinded you from the obvious?

Your hysterical responses here are so irrational, and politically and psychoanalytically clueless, that they do not deserve any further comment ...

3:42 AM  
Blogger bat020 said...

Umm, Padraig, it seems the rigidities of your anti-party stance have blinded you to the obvious fact that warszawa is not a member of the SWP, nor does the party share his views on the question of 9/11. In fact I'd say our line on these matters is rather similar to yours. Sorry if that disappoints you.

3:57 PM  
Blogger Padraig said...

Thanks for clearing up, demolishing that little conspiracy, Bat [It's just Warszawa's nasty hysteria and flame-throwing that's disappointing ...]

5:34 PM  
Blogger Qlipoth said...

Bat is right: I am not, nor have I ever been, a member of the SWP. I did attempt to point this out myself, but Padraig refused to print my reply. I'm not worthy, you see, presumably because I'm so "politically and psychoanalytically clueless" that I don't understand Padraig's need to make up shit, either about me or about Charlie Sheen.

Ours not to reason why. Ours - or at least Padraig's - to fantasise about why people distrust their governments, and to pour scorn on them for doing so. (If this is also the SWP's party-line, it really doesn't augur well for the future of socialism.)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/september11/story/0,,1481191,00.html


w.

5:59 PM  
Blogger Qlipoth said...

I'm not too fond of being on the receiving end of manically-unbalanced personal abuse, Warszawa, your comments here being totally unacceptable ...

You'll may have noticed that I'm also Qlipoth :-), also post there, your latest contribution at that blog being hilarious in its sheer idiocy.

6:45 PM  
Blogger Qlipoth said...

"your latest contribution at that blog being hilarious in its sheer idiocy"

Aha. Well, say why it's "hilarious in its sheer idiocy" - if you can, and if it's not too much to ask.

7:13 PM  
Blogger Hugs O'Toole said...

Aw, now what the hell is this? Was this an intra-Qlipoth dispute all along?

10:44 PM  
Blogger abreact said...

yawn. warszawa is qlipoth is pjm, as everyone well knows, unless I'm mistaken.

5:24 PM  
Blogger Qlipoth said...

No, "abreact"-whose-link-goes-nowhere; you're wrong an all counts. Qlipoth is a collective with an unknown number of participants (and I didn't know padraig was part of it.) And I haven't the faintest idea who or what "pjm" is.

9:49 PM  
Blogger Padraig said...

pjm, unless everyone mistakenly knows elsewise, is either Paddy Joe Malloy [Beckett's grand-nephew],the Proletarian Jouissance Machine [Lyotard-enamoured], or more plainly, Ireland's resident CIA-undercover, hooker-loving Agent, Patrick Joseph McManus:
http://joseph-mcmanus.blogspot.com/

... Unless there's some mistaking still going on ...

10:31 PM  
Blogger abreact said...

no, pjm is patrick j mullins is warszawa, and counago john is mcmanus...unless there's still more mistakings to be drawn...

5:22 AM  
Blogger Qlipoth said...

Abreact-of-the-link-that-goes-nowhere: I am most certainly not patrick j mullins.

Try again. (This reminds me of a certain passage in The Third Policeman...)

warszawa

2:48 PM  
Blogger sy said...

Perhaps the belief in conspiracy thoerys As believable is by there very definition. All a conspiracy theory is is a lie or plot carried out in secret of public mainstreem knowledge in which case based on the amount of lies told by politicians & elitist groups, means that conspiracy thoerys in theses case are more likely fact than fiction, storys are released all the time about lude acts that mp's ect are involved in but before there publication in national news papers they are still believed to be a conspiracy theory.
i would be carefull if in were you about where your perception of reality comes from because you yourselves might find that if your realty is in deed the conspiracy theory that you yourselves are living in a lie.

3:37 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home