“Back of the world in which we live, far in the background, lies another world. The relation between the two is not unlike the relation we sometimes see in the theater between the forestage scene in the regular acting area and a scrim scene projected behind it. Through a thin gauze we see, as it were, a world of gauze, lighter, more ethereal, qualitatively different from the actual world. Many people who appear bodily in the actual world do not belong in it but in that other.”—Soren Kierkegaard, “Diary of the Seducer” in Either/Or
“From the outset, the use of journalists was among the CIA’s most sensitive undertakings, with full knowledge restricted to the Director of Central Intelligence and a few of his chosen deputies.”—Carl Bernstein, “The CIA and the Media,” Rolling Stone
“Personality is persona, a mask . . . The mask is magic . . . Larva means mask; or ghost . . . it also means mad, a case of demoniacal possession.”—Norma O. Brown, Love’s Body
There are innocent and guilty actors populating the American stage.
Unlike the naïve children who joyously revel in the costumes they don for Halloween, unaware as they are of the death fears they exorcise, the corporate mainstream media wear their masks year-round, while they consciously abet the United States government, its intelligence agencies, and its allies in exercising their God-given right to inflict death on people around the world, including many innocent children.
To point out the media’s sickening hypocrisy (Greek hypokrites, stage actor) is, in one way, quite easy and facile, but in another quite difficult because of the powerful hypnotic hold people’s “trusted” media have on them. To even suggest that people’s favorite mainstream media are doing the work of the secret state feels so insulting to people’s intelligence with its suggestion of gullibility that many recoil in anger at the possibility. A common retort is that it is absurd to suggest that The New York Times, The Washington Post, Fox News, CNN, etc., are just disseminating propaganda from behind a mask of objectivity. And it is that small word “just” that reveals the falsity of the reply. For obviously these media organizations report truthfully on certain matters. For if they didn’t, their lies would not work. But when it comes to crucial matters of foreign or domestic policy—matters that involve the controlling interests of the elites—lies and deceptions are the rule.
Yes, Trump is a narcissistic mana personality who has entranced and mystified his hard core followers. But to think he is the only hypnotist on the stage is childish beyond belief. The psychoanalyst Sandor Ferenczi observed that people are so susceptible to returning to an imaginary childhood through hypnotic trances because “In our innermost soul we are still children, and we remain so throughout life.” Like the little children who go trick-or-treating dressed up as ghosts, witches, or grim reapers, adults too fear death and are easily induced to believe god-like authorities who will quell their fears and ostensibly explain to them who the good and bad guys are. Like parents with children, the masked media magicians play the good cop/bad cop game with great success. Obama was a god; Trump, the devil. Trump is a savior; Obama, a destroyer. This charade is so obvious that it’s not. But that’s how the play is played. At the moment, all eyes are on Trump, who commands center stage. And those obsessively transfixed eyes are staring out of the heads of people of all political persuasions, those that love and those that loathe the man and all he stands for. And who has created this obsession but none other than our friends in the corporate media, the same people who gave us Obama-mania.
Meanwhile, back stage. . . . it’s a wonderful life.
There’s Saudi Arabia and the recent news about the killing of Jamal Khashoggi and the Saudi war on Yemen. You may rightly wonder what that is all about.
And you might remember and be wondering about the poisoning, allegedly by Russia, of those Russian nationals Sergei Scripal and his daughter Yulia, who have been kept in total isolation by the British authorities for eight months.
Do you wonder about where the war against Syria went? Has it just gone to sleep until after November’s election? Is that what wars do, take naps?
Do you wonder obsessively about the upcoming mid-term election and all those “former” CIA folks running for office? “Crucial” elections, the media tell us. The state of the country is riding on them, right? Or is it the world?
There is so much to wonder about. The costumes are so creative, the masks mesmerizing. Something’s happening, right. There is so much to wonder about in Wonderland. Something is happening, as Dylan sings:
You raise up your head and you ask, “Is this where it is?”
And somebody points to you and says, “It’s his”
And you say, “What’s mine?” and somebody else says, “Well, what is?”
And you say, “Oh my God, am I here all alone?”
But something is happening and you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mr. Jones?
As you no doubt do know, The Washington Post, The New York Times and other corporate media are outraged by the killing of Khashoggi and now by the Saudis’ war on Yemen. Does their outrage make you wonder how outrage works?
Here from seven years ago:
The extent of America’s war in Yemen has been among the Obama administration’s most closely guarded secrets, as officials worried that news of unilateral American operations could undermine Mr. Saleh’s tenuous grip on power.
That was the NY Times’ Mark Mazzetti on June 8, 2011, two-and-a-half years into the Obama administration.
This is Mark Mazzetti for October 20, 2018, “Saudis’ Image Makers: A Troll Army and a Twitter Insider”:
In one conversation viewed by The Times, dozens of leaders [Saudi] decided to mute critics of Saudi Arabia’s military attacks on Yemen by reporting the messages to Twitter as “sensitive.”
The article goes on to describe how the formerly Saudi good guys are getting bad and doing Russian-like stuff like trolling and “swarming and stifling critics on Twitter” in a propaganda and public relations campaign. Boy, isn’t it shocking and a cause for wonder? What they wouldn’t do!
And then there’s the Times’ emotional story from October 20, 2018 by Declan Walsh with photos and video from Tyler Hicks—“This is the Front Line of Saudi Arabia’s Invisible War”—that says:
The Khashoggi crisis has called attention to a largely overlooked Saudi-led war in Yemen. On a rare trip to the front line, we found Yemenis fighting and dying in a war that has gone nowhere.
“Largely overlooked”—by whom? “Gone nowhere”—and where was it supposed to go?
Now what’s happening, Mr. Reader? Has the worm turned? Do you wonder? It’s hard to remember to forget or forget to remember, isn’t it?
Would this article—U.S. stepping up weapons shipments to aid Saudi air campaign over Yemen—from April, 7, 2015 make you wonder what’s happening now?
It begins: “The United States appears to be slowly but steadily deepening its involvement in the war in Yemen.”
So many things “appear” and disappear, it makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
Yes, the American stage is populated with so many spooky masked media characters, you’d think they were out to scare and trick us, rather than treat us well.
I’m afraid that’s what’s happening in Wonderland, Mr. Jones.
Edward Curtin is a sociologist and writer who teaches at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and has published widely.