June 7, 2017 (Wednesday)

by Yule Heibel on June 6, 2018

I suppose at some point you can just not take seriously anything anymore. That’s a bit what things feel like in the current, breathless and hysterical, media landscape. I wonder if people in wartime – especially the pawns, be they peons, peasants, or foot soldiers – start feeling this way, too. A kind of existential ennui, a sort of horrified enthrallment to absurdity. I never thought of the theater of the absurd in this light, but it, too, might well spring from these feelings. It’s a reaction to stress, I suppose, but it can’t be a solution.

There is no doubt in my mind that we are living through one of the worst crises this country has ever faced, nor do I doubt that both our main political parties and our institutions – from the “sober” security and intelligence bureaucracy through to every branch of establishment media (TV, print, and all their online forms) – have gone completely bonkers. The insanity has given rise to execrable grifters and conspiracy theory mongers like Louise Mensch and others, and has left “serious” journalists – or formerly serious, or maybe they were never serious to begin with and are now revealed for the fatally flawed and weak human beings they are – flapping in the Trump Derangement Syndrome breeze, trying by all means possible to gauge where the current level or just the current du jour of public outrage might be tapped so they can set their sails accordingly and fit into the general stream of things – which, they hope, will help preserve 1) their jobs/ income, and 2) the remaining shreds of their professional credibility. The charlatans (Mensch) enjoy the storms.

The alt-right have known how to manufacture and speed-boat through the storms from the start. The “establishment” hacks mistake the storms for the ocean, mistake the maps (concocted) for the territory. They’re all going down. It’s kind of funny (as per the outset, above: how do you take anything seriously these days?), because it’s such an apposite phenomenon to Curtis’s Hypernormalisation. The managerial class – into which mainstream journalism and mainstream media of course was (is) fully embedded (the war metaphors won’t die, or maybe warring has simply infused everything else…) – is losing control of the narratives, and mainstream media (embedded) is noticing its own exposed backside, its exposure to all the risks.

And so the hysteria pitch is both real insofar as it’s produced by people in an institution that’s dying, and it’s fake insofar as those same people create false objects onto which to focus their (real) hysteria. They are complicit in the overall rot because they are making it all about their feelings, but telling us it’s about real objects. Meanwhile, object after object after object just …evaporates, disappears, pixellates into nothing, as the cycle repeats and the media go breathlessly (and hysterically) off in search of the next object.

The danger, of course, is that some of these objects may actually be real (corruption, say; or corporate overreach; or monopoly consolidation). But we don’t care, somehow, because we’re too caught up (like peasants, peons, and foot soldiers) in whatever the ruling institutions (losing their grip) are drumming up. Our “protectors” are losing, but they’re not asking us to see the real enemy because they can’t even admit they’ve been wrong, chasing chimera, and making false excuses for past setbacks. I’m looking at you, Hillary Clinton, and all your supporters. This will happen to Trump, too, when/if he loses like Clinton did. It would truly be a miracle if he lost with honor, but I’m sure he’ll use the levers at his control to make waves, which will make currents, which will make storms.

And all our media will set sail on those storms, all our institutions will join them. The armada will sally forth to slay dragons that don’t exist, again mistaking the faulty map for an actual terrain.

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