Culture Vulture: Cannibalising Reality

More thoughts bubbling up as some kind of cathartic aspiration to quell the ongoing discomfort of what is, at the time of writing, another brutal and oppressive heatwave here.  President Trump is a part of this text and is as relevant here as in the US.  The emergence of a truly Global and interconnected culture has led to truly Global and interdependent consequences.

It occurs to me that, in a world where nothing can be guaranteed to be true, where political expediency or sheer information volumes have created an environment in which a notional truth might just as well be selected based upon the extent to which it supports an ideological bias as it may be selected on the grounds of a falsifiable basis in fact, and the degree to which supporting narratives (however outlandish) already exist or can be conjured into a supporting role – in a world such as this where fiction and falsity have become indistinguishable from fact for a not insignificant proportion of the media and mass communications consumer market, where everything can be false – everything can also simultaneously be true.

I have expressed an opinion elsewhere that what may appear to be the independent activity of conscious volition and subjective free will expressed through or as a person’s actions and thoughts may really in some measure be predominantly just an expression of a broader, emergent pattern or dynamic symmetry in the collective resonant field represented by culture and communication.  A person often believes that they express a unique or individual self and identity in their thoughts, words and actions and in one concrete sense they do – they creatively reconcatenate the narratives and symbolic value-laden probabilities represented by the world in which they exist, from which they emerge.  However, in another (just as concrete) sense, no one ever truly creates – they re-create, recombine, stitch together, juxtapose and rewrite their narratives, their meanings and their aspirational teleologies.

Human beings in the broader cultural (and historical ?) sense are choice machines, decision engines, recombining their narratives and attributed (not even necessarily fully understood) meanings in ways which enervate the dynamic field of culture and communication from which these choices emerge as possibilities; choice, recombination and creative meaning-making selection are drawn from within the available range of possible or probable decisions, wishes, affectations or ideologically-charged affiliations.  Culture and communication provide us with a spectrum of choice, we provide action or energy to the cultural and communication systems through our active decision making.  The world we live in thus becomes looped back upon itself – systems theoretically speaking: the system represented by the individual enervates, provides energy to the environment from which choice and its meanings are extracted and this topologically forms a simultaneously closed (logical) and open (unpredictable) recursive loop, enabling the individual to respire choices and decisions.

The most interesting thing about the instalment of “US Democracy, Trump Edition” pseudo-political Operating System has not been in the perhaps predictable plutocratic turn of what was successfully marketed to the “mass”  (3 in 10 Americans voted for Trump) dissatisfaction of the disenfranchised as a return to some fictional narrative past which never actually existed.  The most interesting thing about this peculiar historical moment in US history is that the fertile informational, cultural and communications systems preconditions which have come to exist and in which the election of a blustering populist with no political or diplomatic experience to the highest political (and arguably the most sensitive diplomatic) role in the leading Democracy of the West.  Pari passu the emergence of this allegedly apolitical politician, who in reality has handed over control of the administrative destiny of vast swathes of the US population to a mixed salad of aggressive conservatives and spectacularly unprepared portfolio incompatibles, we can also witness a decrying of truth, fact and of science.

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The constant denialism of facts and truths evident in Trump inner-circle media relations is merely the enthroning of a particular kind of self-serving and unremittingly wilful ignorance which has been floating around for some time.  If Trump aligns himself with Alex Jones and everything that Infowars brings with it, it doesn’t really matter if Trump actually believes that particular conspiratorial dribble masquerading as truth, nor does it matter if the mutual alignment and support is for both of their own political or commercial expediencies.  What matters is that the most senior and mature governmental role in what is arguably the leading global democracy (yes – in spite of all its internal inconsistencies the US still represents the benchmark in this) has been handed over to insensitive, immature, and potentially unwitting personnel.  There is little doubt the extent to which Stephen Bannon is pulling strings in all of this.  There can also be little doubt that there are many powerful Republican players waiting in the wings for Trump to screw things up and for them to assume the reigns of power.

The emergence of populists and their authoritarian kin appears to occur most acutely, acute in the sense one may speak of a pandemic or other epidemiological occurrence, at times of elevated national and international stress, friction and insecurity.  Ironically, the emergence of populist nationalist movements very often prefigures and creates the preconditions for an insecurity and anxiety-ridden national identity.  Trump and Bannon are, among other miscreants haunting the West Wing, no less embedded within and emergent products of the larger field of culture and communication that we are all engaged with.  Their “creative” acts of narrative reconcatenation resemble less the ongoing perennially and recursively incomplete march of progress and historical development, they are more closely akin to cannibals greedily feasting upon the bleached bones of justice, undiscriminating equity and the rational pursuit of freedom.

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In a world where everything can be false and true at the same time (is this not where we are heading ?), any assertion whatsoever can be questioned or championed.  If a political player has risen to power on the basis of falsity, innuendo and rumour – it is probably not surprising that they should see these ploys everywhere being used against them.  Even when assertions they make may be true, they will likely be considered false and the greatest cost of all to any politician here is that of becoming enmeshed in their own web – even if they had something valuable or genuinely constructive to say or do, they can not escape the gravity of their own triumphant empowering of Doubt and Alternate Facts.

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