A U.S. Army sergeant providing security outside a provincial governor's compound in Farah City, Afghanistan, on Feb. 5, 2013. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Josh Ives )
In the consumer paradigm, one is induced to exist by Eric Hoffer's dictum: "You can never get enough of what you really don't need." Wherein: The individual exists in a state of perpetual adolescence, emotionally oscillating between life lived as a bliss ninny and evincing chronic dissatisfaction.
Ever shifting, inchoate compulsions and endless distractions define the days of the denizens of the consumer state. Text messages and tweets gibber like souls stranded in a limbo realm between the worlds of the living and the damned.
Constant craving and callous disregard ascend to the throne room of consciousness in this empire of ephemera. The passions of the heart are circumvented by chronic discontent. In this manic mythos of the eternal moment, consumer items are collected, clutched, and discarded, like the idols and talismans of a dying cult.
But there is neither the time nor inclination to erect statues to these gods of the limbic system; the gods exist as ever-reconfiguring constellations of pixels. ... As noxious as nixies, they hold the senses enthralled as the global, capitalist paradigm sinks beneath a drowning tide of self-created illusion.
Beneath the endless obligation of debt servitude and the manic distractions of the consumer state, an amorphous dread gathers. Shunted aside, it is experienced as free-floating, low-grade paranoia.
As I place these words to pixel, members of the U.S military sit hunched before computer screens, enacting slaughter by means of predator drone strikes. These cubicle-bound soldiers of the consumer state (who have spent their lifetimes within the mass media hologram of late capitalism) regard delivering death from across vast distances as a type of instant, consumerist gratification.
But their actions do not instill a sense of safety within the homeland. Incrementally, it increases the gathering dread, thus this war-by-remote-control is self-perpetuating: warfare experienced as consumer craving, the mode of mind of a shopping addict, but instead of possessing closets bloated with unneeded consumer items, the empire collects corpses.
Izzy Stone famously averred, "Governments lie."
It is a given, government and corporate insiders scheme and plot. In the days before they had to create the illusion that government officials were responsive to the dictates of the electorate, rulers, their advisors and counselors created deceptive strategies in pursuit of holding and acquiring greater power, in secret, behind closed doors. Withal, their plots were not termed conspiracies; their machinations and attendant acts were called ... a day at work.
"Panic is the sudden realization that everything around you is alive." -- William S. Burroughs, from Ghost of Chance
The U.S. possesses a cheap-seats view of reality but skybox level self-deceptions.
A conspiracy-apprehending mode of mind attempts to find connections and detect affinities. In this respect, it is similar to a poetic sense of awareness. Although, this distinction is imperative: a habitually paranoiac perspective must have a tendency toward introspective self-awareness i.e., an ego-leavening element, or it tends to become pathologically self-centered.
Thus: An inner conspiracy is locked into place, confining the psyche of the sufferer in a mental realm of self reference -- whereby life itself, in its unknowable vastness, threatens to penetrate, causing the fragile ego-construct of the paranoia prone to erect even greater barriers of insularity, thus creating the effect of a psychical room of infinity mirrors.
The U.S. is a paranoid culture. The nation has no foreign enemies posing an existential threat, yet it swoons in collective fear and bristles with the apparatus of the national security state. The corporate/militarist government of the U.S. is paranoid by nature; therefore, the populace has good reason to be fearful.
It is not a lack of conviction that brings so much suffering to humanity; it is a lack of rigorous imagination. Rigorous imagination is not the same thing as a desperate need for belief or a tendency to become convinced of the reality of any notion that arrives in your head.
Rigorous imagination allows you to engage in democratic discourse with the disparate beings inhabiting the polis of your psyche, but not be swept away by mob rule or entranced by charismatic, neurotic, or paranoiac characters within you who have a monomaniacal agenda.
These inner characters, gods, animals, and monsters can be helpful to you; it is futile to attempt to repress them. But you must have a grip on them -- or they will have a grip on you. Ergo, this is the difference between clinging to narrow convictions and a heart-opening, senses-awakening, mind-vivifying embrace of rigorous imagination.