by William Skink
Lately I’ve been thinking about how central storytelling is to the human experience, and not just because I’m in the midst of constructing my own barely fictitious story. I believe we are (or become) the stories we tell ourselves through a sort of narrative alchemy that is much more potent than terms like “propaganda” can approximate.
Stories told through the mediums of cinema, television and music have had an immense impact on my own sense of narrative. The latest story to spark my synapses is the Netflix show Stranger Things. Set in the fictional town of Hawkins, circa 1983, the show has quickly imprinted its narrative on the minds of millions as they follow the nostalgia-laden characters through a visual collage of 80’s references.
I got so pulled into this narrative I even bought a poster on Etsy because I’m apparently 15 again decorating my basement room. Yeah, the nostalgia really is that good.
But it’s not just the nostalgia. Stranger Things takes on some plot points that are synchronistically fucking with me, but I don’t want to get into spoilers, so for now I’ll just leave it at that.
Next month I’m turning 38, and I have to say I don’t think the distinction between what is real and what isn’t has ever been this confused. I like fiction because there is no claim of being objectively real. Artists can create worlds with words and images and sound, and sometimes those worlds contain better information than what our reporters and journalists are pushing on us, especially during this election cycle.
Though I’ll probably regret it, I’d like to include Mark Tokarski’s descent into his face-splitting claims that celebrity deaths are mostly hoaxes to provide cover for reassignments to other roles. The comedian Bill Hicks transformed into conspiracy barker Alex Jones, for example, and Janis Joplin (or her twin) transformed into Amy Goodman, of Democracy Now.
While it might be easier to just ridicule and relegate this craziness to Mark’s murky corner of the interweb, I think the story Mark is telling himself is important. Because it’s not just Mark. I caught a piece at Zerohedge the other day speculating that nuclear bombs aren’t really that destructive, so what Japan experienced was more likely from conventional weapons.
I’m sure there is some level of comfort derived from declaring everything a hoax. And while revulsion and outright dismissal is the standard reaction to this kind of speculation, I try to at least keep an open mind about how much of our understanding of history has been artificially constructed to fit our present day agenda.
The narrative I’ve been chasing for years now is starting to coalesce. A central plot point to the story I’m interested in involves the overlap between the occult, Nazism, and the New Age movement. One of the books I’m currently plodding through is Peter Levenda’s Unholy Alliance.
After WWII, I think there is compelling evidence that America absorbed and expanded on Nazi research into mind control and other paranormal aspects of the planet we inhabit, with reckless disregard of the potential blowback. While this may seem like an outlandish assertion, there are plenty of compelling sources adding to our understanding of the 20th century wars that recast the global order, an order that is currently falling apart.
How far will this country go to preserve the destructive story of American execptionalism? The story of manifest destiny was bad enough, but the notion that America is the one indispensable nation is probably the most damaging story ever told.
The hubris and arrogance involved in the stories Americans tell themselves will ultimately be our undoing. Instead of believing in some divine mandate to expand and displace other cultures (manifest destiny), or in the exceptional role that justifies killing and manipulating whoever refuses to accept American hegemony, we need to start constructing alternative stories to pull us back from the brink of self-destruction.