Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Ghosts of Armageddon...
"Meeting" is a story of fractured reality, of impending apocalypse and time askew. The protagonist finds himself facing two conflicting versions of what is real. Each seems to be trying to pull him in, to recruit him to its particular cause, and he doesn't know which way to turn or what to believe.
Sound familiar? It should. Fitting that election time should coincide closely with the season of All Hallows Eve; a time of masks and illusions when different realities touch.
Each candidate is like a magician practicing the art of misdirection, trying to make his audience look in the right places at the right times to serve the version of reality he's trying to create. Mitt Romney, for example, is quite the conjurer. Like a character in science fiction, he presents many alternate versions of the past, many alternate versions of himself. He's like a temporal shapeshifter who alters the past to suit his own present. He also "evolves" very quickly, as malleable as smoke in the shifting wind. (Some of us who hail from the state of Massachusetts can remember a time when he was pro-choice. Is he now? I've lost track.)
In the end, it's the audience that really chooses which reality to believe in. Most people tend to believe in whichever reality makes them happy. The magician uses that to misdirect us, as we misdirect ourselves. The ultimate misdirection...the absurd, almost comical 900-lb gorilla in the room...is that everyone has their eyes on the magic show even as an unwelcome visitor named Sandy makes her frightful appearance, leaving a trail of destruction up the east coast.
New York subways flooded. Desolation and carnage. A specter of Armageddon? A glimpse of a future we'd rather not acknowledge? Neither candidate is willing to discuss or even acknowledge the reality of pollution accelerating global climate change, or the heat waves, firestorms, droughts, floods and super-storms it spawns. They used to acknowledge it (even Romney.) But, political pressure movements have used their own illusions to twist public opinion and magically make the spines of political candidates disappear. To acknowledge the increasingly obvious reality of climate change has become political suicide. Now, that's the greatest trick of misdirection imaginable; to make half the public disbelieve what their own eyes tell them, even as their homes wash away in this week's flood.
The public expects each president to be a magician, a wizard who can wave a magic wand and bring us jobs and prosperity overnight. When each president fails to do so, the public embraces the illusions of the next contender in hopes his magic will prove real. And, even as the one indisputable reality screams outside our windows like a wailing banshee and rips through our walls like a marauding ogre, we still see only what we wish to see.
We believe in the omnipotence of presidents because we can control that reality with our voting ballots. We refuse to believe in global warming because we fear we can't control it. But, that's another illusion. The truth is, we can. We created it. We can reduce it, at least to some extent. Trouble is, it won't be as easy as voting. It would entail major changes in the way we live, work, drive, etc. That's why we choke on that reality. We've just become addicted to easy answers and instant gratification. Like bags of Halloween candy. And, that's what shapes our perception of reality.
Eventually, we all have to grow up and stop believing in illusion. The question is whether we have enough time left.