Friday, August 13, 2010

Hankster Summer Friday: Live-blogging Friday the 13th, Inception of a Chosen Nightmare

Ahhh, happy to again be home early from work on Summer Early Friday -- only 4 more of these left! Even the temperature is dropping -- a little...

Here's what I was thinking about this afternoon:

I take a class at the East Side Institute taught by Dr. Fred Newman called Developmental Philosophy Group. Like most of the work that Newman does, it's ongoing to the extent that people want to do it or feel a need for it or it doesn't get interrupted by some more pressing work that can get done that might have more impact in a world faced with some very serious questions.

I recently sent out an article by David Sirota to my philosophy group-class called The Deception of Real-World Inception. I noticed this article when I was scanning my emails (I subscribe by email to a fair number of online publications, both left and right and this one was in In These Times, a Chicago-based liberal-left publication.) This one caught my eye because it raises a lot of philosophical concepts that our philosophy group has been discussing: logic, "the brain", partisanship, propaganda, ideas, individuals, credibility, reflexivity, characters, cognition, dreams, nightmares... "something profoundly relevant to this epoch of confusion"... "ancient ruminations about reality's authenticity"... "real-world application".... " laws of cognition"....

Sirota uses the real-world summer block-buster Inception as a take-off point to his article, and posits:
In the movie's tale of corporate espionage, we are asked to ponder this moment's most disturbing epistemological questions: Namely, how are ideas deposited in people's minds, and how incurable are those ideas when they are wrong?
I thought this article was insightful. Sirota seems to reference a change in popular (Hollywood?), cultural, relative, self-conscious awareness of propaganda techniques from A Clockwork Orange in the 70s to the present, where so many "fantasies’ artificial inceptions" are "now so deftly obscured..."

It seems pretty much fact now that the US military, and the entire western world's military-industrial operations, have been involved in mind control experimentation for a long time and although I have never read much about it, I do know from personal experience that propaganda was a big issue during the Vietnam era, on both sides.

Sirota's article "The Deception of Real-World Inception" evokes for me something like, well in the 60s and 70s things were simple, there was right and wrong, there was the enemy, there was the state, there were sides. People made decisions about what was right and wrong. The war was right or the war was wrong.

Now, Sirota says in my reading, not so clear-cut -- not that he's unclear in his position (he is against the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, if not war in general), but he's reached a limit in how he sees the left  being able to win over the "hearts and minds" of American war-mongers, or indeed any Americans who have not already made up their minds about what is right and wrong when it comes to political issues of democracy.

To me this has everything to do with the pursuit of truth and verifiability.  It seems to me that Sirota is asking how to get out of this "conundrum" in a more honest way than many leftists. I think he's lamenting the fact that our "minds" aren't so easily changed and genuinely asking what do we do about that.

I didn't see the movie, (definitely next on my list after watching the trailer and reading an interesting interview with Leo DiCaprio in Rolling Stone) but I certainly identify with the last line of Sirota's article:
 "And because those fantasies’ artificial inception is now so deftly obscured, we can no longer wake up, even if facts tell us we’re in a dream—and even when the dream becomes a nightmare."
Have we -- Americans, westerners -- lost a public self-consciousness about the people's ability to stop war, poverty, injustice, corruption -- the nightmare? Is self-consciousness even a necessary or desirable element? Indeed, What is the circuit breaker in this deceptively delusive cycle?

I wouldn't pretend to have the answer, but I think this is a necessary and desirable dialogue and I'm glad David Sirota brought it up.

Thanks to my friend Joan I. for asking!

Have a good Friday the 13th -- and please -- choose your nightmares carelfully!


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