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.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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5 Responses to Storytelling

  1. JC says:

    Nice teaser… 😉

    And thanks for not spoiling Stranger Things, I’m working through it an episode every day or two. Love the Clash part of the soundtrack, as one band I was in played “Should I Stay or Should I go” in the 80s to the head bangers, and another played it a few years ago to the spiritual alchemists…

  2. More than most, you are troubled and exploring things and able to reason on a higher level. There’s no sense in raining on your parade. Just keep at it, keep moving forward.

    Think of it as a big restaurant where you can sit at any table you like, and once seated, Intelligence will provide a waiter for you. You can be a right winger like Swede, and you’ll have your Rush and FOX and that whole set to reassure you. You can be smart enough to see through hoaxes, and you’ll be waited on by “9/11 Truth,” an Intel ps-yop complete with Fetzer and Gage and the gang. You can be thoughtful, imagine you’re calmly able to rationally explore issues, and NPR/PBS/New Yorker awaits. If you’re really intellectual, Chomsky will seat you. “Amy Goodman” and Democracy Now! will catch the more discordant thinkers who see through two-party politics. Or you can just be a typical American, dumbed down by education, not knowing what’s up. There’s party politics and TV and sports for you.

    The environment we are given is total spectrum management. No one, and I mean no one, who has a national platform is for real. They are set there to catch you as you wander about, making sure you don’t escape into reality. We live under a bubble of disinformation and misdirection.

    You can make your escape, but be prepared to be ridiculed. It takes not only brains, which you have, but courage, which you have occasionally shown. Keep at it.

    • JC says:

      What a laugher. You trying to guide Skink and give him advice.

      30 years ago when you were his age now, you were nothing but a rightwing republican working for the IRS as a petty CPA number cruncher making sure that the government got its proper due from the middle class and businesses toed the line while hiding what they could, legally, from the prying eyes of the public.

      Skink is light years beyond where you were then, and is on his own path, needing no condescending advice from you. And I at that age was an anarchist activist willing to put my life and livelihood on the line working the front lines of the anti-war, anti-corporatist, and radical environmental movements. What have you ever done that’s a “positive” for the world besides being a shill for MWA? lol

      You lived a sheltered existence back then, shielding yourself from TPTB by integrating into the mainstream of american business and Reaganism, and you live a privileged and sheltered life now by shielding yourself from reality with the wealth you’ve accumulated exploiting taxpayers and businesses, and by creating a false reality that comforts you as you hide from your own fears of what the world is truly like.

  3. Justin Arn says:

    Fantastically interesting post.
    I can identify and empathize with your account of and experiences regarding the blurring lines between storyelling, art, reality, etc.

    That same synchronistic effect (that you were wise not attempting to describe) has been affecting me greatly as well. There truly is something afoot, and frankly, I’m hoping its cause is more closely related to a naturally occuring metaphysical process than anything else.

    But part of me can’t help be concerned that it’s far more sinister.


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