There's a new movie coming soon. It is called "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close', starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. The story is based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer. A prodigal boy goes for a partly fantastic journey through the New York City to discover the lockbox to be unlocked by a mysterious key left by his creative father who died on 9/11. The movie is very moving, boasts a good cast and aims for an Oscar. It has all the proper sentimentality in it to be successful and get great reviews- from the complicated boy in seemingly dysfunctional family to Jewish roots. I am not disputing its value. I dispute a premise; can an artist just take a pure fact of the death on 9/11 and brush aside the whole political picture of the event. Is it actually possible? Won't it be a lie?
Just think about it. What is the relevancy of 9/11 here? If the boy's father had died from a freak accident or from cancer in any other way, won't the story still unfold? The magic key would still be there and a drive for a search would still be there. What's the point of dragging the 9/11 into all that? How does that contribute to the plot?
We all know the answer; it is a spice of the Century. It brings out our sentiment. We want the victims of 9/11, whoever they were to be mysterious and heroic partly because we here would like somehow to associate with them, to consider that anyone of us could be there. We also prefer it that way because deep down we know that we had been fed a lie. A very big lie, the lie of lies.
Ten years had passed since the event happened and we all can state that it defined the start of the 21st Century. The children of that day had grown up and they had grown up in the atmosphere dominated by a lie: 9/11 had been accomplished by a group of fanatics with box- cutters who commandeered several planes, rammed two of them into the WTC and the Twin Towers fell. That's what we were told and that's what we pretended to believe. There was no trial and there was no proper investigation. Under the cover of this lie wars were unleashed, cruel and mean laws were enacted, terror organizations were invented, police state was formed on our land and millions died all around the Globe. Under the cover of this lie the whole generation of liars had emerged and taken power. Can a real artist ignore that? Can he just take a pure fact, erect an emotional framework around it and get away with it? Can we describe the Night of St. Bartholomew as just the night when one group of people fought with another group of people without an idea of the organized massacre? Hardly. The event is too great, the connection is too strong; ignoring of the cause of it just contributes to a lie.
The 9/11 lie is one of those lies which are indeed multifaceted. It had established a standard; it defined a pit of lies and made it bottomless. We had been lying and had been lied to before. But only after 9/11 people had realized that you can lie with impunity. Everything goes now. As a result a barrage of lies had been unleashed; lying had become an occupation.
In the country where a person like Greenspan can come out and say openly that the crisis happened but he, Greenspan can be sorry only for the wrong perception about how the world works, this type lie can go through because it is still a very small lie when compared to the standard. It is just a noise. As soon as it was realized the first people who took an advantage of this were media people and politicians. They embraced the lie dearly. They lied about the wars and about WMDs in Iraq. They lied about Afghanistan. They lied about Pakistan and about the Operation Geronimo ( what a name, really). They lied about the financial crisis and about the bailout. They lied about the Healthcare Bill. They lied about the BP catastrophe. They lied about the role of the Tea- Party. They lied about Obama being at least a man of integrity -- he is far from it. They lied about Libya. They lied about the US role in the Middle East. They lied about taxes. They lied about new jobs- there are none. They lied about recession -- it is a depression, really. They lied and slandered the OWS movement. They lied on every step and had reached the level at which most of them from top to bottom just do not know how to deal with the truth.
They literally lie to the fish as Robert Duvall's character says in the movie "Falling Down'. All of that though becomes possible because we not only listen to them and swallow their bullshit; we eagerly and willingly contribute.
Lyons Feuchtwanger defines the subhuman society in which "people wake up with a lie and go to bed with a lie'. He elaborates that if the society loses its way "the everyday functions become evil'. We fit to that criterion perfectly. Lie had soaked into our everyday life like into a sponge.
We lie by complacency. How many of us had heard every day that US was the greatest country in the world and bought into that nonsense, never challenged it? How many of us had listened to the barrage of pseudo- Christian bollocks of our Christian right and never called them what they were- Satanists? How many of us had welcomed back the "veterans of foreign wars' and never said that they in fact were returning from the evil enterprise? How many of us deceived ourselves even when buying into one of the most idiotic and malicious lays in history- the goodness of the free market? It is not the market we like. It gives us the false sense of self- satisfaction and we are ready to sell our soul for an illusory bowl of soup.
We lie by the malice of our hearts. Fairly recently we lynched people and the taste of that lynching is still with us. Many of us deep down below cherish that morbid feeling of superiority, of belonging to those who lynch instead of those who are lynched. Lie gives us the new comfort: we now can be malicious openly again towards those designated as enemies. The government does the crimes and we are welcome to smirk. We can joke about Gitmo, for instance. We can make comedies about it. We also can joke about tortures. The people tortured have no names; they are just pieces of meat. That's what the lie tells us; it is only a piece of meat there as it was on the lynching fire, as it was in the lynching noose. When we hear about Iraqis killed or Afghanis killed we never hear the names. They are nameless like cattle, those brown people we kill. That's why we like the idea about the drones- the epitome of killing without knowing, the utopia of cowardice and malice.
We lie by our cowardice. Our comfortable world had been shattered right before our eyes. No matter what the explanation is, it is bad for us: if those 19 people really did it -- we are doomed with all our power. If they did not do it- we don't even want to know who rules us and who was capable of designing such atrocity. We thus are afraid maybe for the first time in our lives. Before we were the only sources of the deadly force coming from above and that feeling was so nice even if we did not recognize it. But now we had tasted our own medicine and it turned out to be deadly. Fear entered our lives and we defer to lie for comfort. Cowards we are and thus are ready to surrender all the liberties for the false sense of security. Not that we feel better when we are humiliated in the airports for our own money. But at least we know that we had paid our debt to fear and now we can be cruel and malicious to others the way abused children are cruel and malicious to animals.
We lie by our greed, and ignorance. Lie opens the gates to quackery; pseudo- experts are in abundance. We have books by interrogators, shows at which executioners come out, pseudo- history professors running for President and CIA becoming a judge of life and death. The center cannot hold. We have movies earning box- office money on war. Everyone who can profits form war and looting and all of that is covered by lies. It has become a sport.
Jean- Paul Sartre said that liars, cheaters and traitors did not do all those things because of strenuous circumstances. They were liars, cheaters and traitors already and the circumstances just helped them to reveal their true selves. They just used an opportunity. That makes us exactly that kind of ilk; we did not have to lie in our everyday life but we chose to do that because we felt comfortable with doing just that all along before that.
Art imitates life and we have now the good artist who does not see anything wrong in invoking a tragedy into the work of art while not addressing the issue of the big lie. It does seem innocent indeed: people died there, right? If we just state that a good man died there and says nothing else we bypass the lie and get back to the domain of the truth, right?
You cannot bypass the lie. You can pretend that you do not know what you are doing but then the art is gone because if there is one law of the art- that's the law that the artist has to be truthful to himself. No true artist ever achieved anything by self- deception.