Once upon a time, human consciousness was subject to divine possession. Take the ancient Greek myth of Narcissus, much invoked of late for its resonance with Western self-obsession. In the best-known version, his rejection of Echo, the love-struck nymph who accordingly fades away to nothing, prompts Nemesis, goddess of retribution, to cause him to fall for his own reflection. So he too pines away from unrequited love, leaving only a flower behind. He’s not the master of his own thoughts, let alone his destiny.
Nor was my mother. ‘Who put that idea in your head?’ she used to sneer whenever, as a teen, I fought for independence. She’d trained my father to stay in line by exhibiting mental illness. All who loved her knew how to win her goodwill: you just needed to stroke her ego (typical of narcissists). After my father died, frauds had a field day. (She also trusted male doctors and the Liberal party implicitly: they did all the thinking for her.)
Today, science tells us the gods don’t exist. Never have; never will. And if we don’t buy this, we’re backward. (As for ‘buy’ being synonymous with ‘believe’, does that suggest a culture possessed by the god known as ‘the root of all evil’?) If we moderns still cling to patriarchal Greek myth, with its sword-and-sandal theatrics, maybe it’s because we’ve inherited ancient Greek maths, philosophy, three-act drama, medicine and democracy (LOL) for starters.
So no wonder most Westerners know nothing of the myths indigenous to the lands on which they dwell. And globalisation’s replacement of unique local features with omnipresent logos doesn’t help. A logical development of colonising the turf of others, globalisation has turned the known world into a virtual shopping mall, commodifying and sanitising culture-specific traditions until they all offer equal potential for meaning no matter where you live, while remaining equally empty and exchangeable. Then we get the re-enchantment brigade and their endearing resistance – born of confusion? – such as an eco-pagan who searches his soul during a crisis, finds comfort in Christianity, and adapts. So now God, in His singularity, is capitalised, while the convert continues to fulminate against capitalism – as if millennia of monotheism didn’t set the stage for progressive annihilation of culture wedded to place.
Is it coincidental that the more we hear about diversity – cultural, biological, neurological etc. – the more globalised and centralised our civilisation gets? Or that the more we hear about the progress of social justice, the greater the inequity between the rich and the poor becomes? And so the great Australian dream of home ownership recedes and collective resentment rises to the surface. Enslaved by low wages, tight pensions, deepening debts and soaring rents, the depressed and desperate masses seek distraction via Big Tech.
The thing is, the market forces – megacorps – that own the media need us to focus outside ourselves on what we don’t own; our desire for things to have and to hold is what feeds them. If we feel content with no more nor less than our birthright – our bodies, hearts, imaginations, wild nature, local networks, sacred rites of passage, cherished memories etc. – these parasites lose power. As they know. Which is why they’ve been busy colonising our bodies, hearts and the rest. Keep your memories safe? You can trust technology – to delegate the act of remembering to devices that constantly get obsolesced or updated at our expense, keeping us captive to corporate greed while sowing the seeds of dementia.
Lore once handed down through generations has progressively been replaced by randomly assembled information of doubtful provenance, packaged for easy consumption and novelty. And yet the political left, traditionally big on equality – rights for the oppressed – has bought into the dream that technologies owned by a tiny elite will pave the way to a global utopia. Criticise the Great Reset and you risk the charge of ‘conspiracy theorist’ – because the left has done a one-eighty. Technology that fosters dependence and false hope, enabling inclusivity at the level of surveillance, has become a means for suppression of dissent.
During the height (or depths) of Covid hysteria and the concomitant mass conformity with repressive measures – increased police presence, self-censorship, random vax mandates etc. – you could be demonised for comparing the scapegoating of the unvaxxed to Nazi persecution of Jews – a classic instance of the way opposites can swap places (like the Earth’s magnetic poles reversing). In his chilling satirical novel Red Pill (2020), Hari Kunzru pokes fun at latte-left reliance on the nanny state for protection from a violent far right, because repressed leftists fear the forces of instinct. (At least, I think that’s what he intended. If so, it’s brilliant; if not, it’s even more darkly comic.)
‘Who owns the future?’ asks André Dao, comparing the ‘smart, super-networked elite’, whose entrepreneurial visions for our world are devoid of critical thinking, with progressives seeking social justice, who fail to dream boldly enough: ‘as the world jerks from crisis to crisis, without giving way to structural change, the result is a lowering of horizons – activists and thinkers preoccupied with responding to each crisis, rather than working on transformative projects’. Written five+ years ago, this fits the Covid era. Where was advice on how to boost natural immunity? The whole masquerade merely highlighted the corporate capture of medicine, which keeps people consuming more, longer, to fuel a sick economy.
‘The reason I’m ringing,’ my GP told me gravely several weeks ago, ‘is that your bone density’s quite a bit worse than last time.’ I didn’t react. ‘Your last test was in 2017?’ my GP prompted. ‘2020.’ Brief pause. ‘Slightly worse then. So there’s been no improvement.’ Every second day for more than two years, I’ve been doing a workout designed by an exercise physiologist versed in evidence-based osteoporosis management and prevention. And to give the program a chance, I’ve never missed a session. Yet my GP had higher expectations re the benefits of weight training than I did and, to rule out an underlying problem, referred me for tests. So I saw an endocrinologist. What did I have to lose?
Everything, if I believe Dr B. But first I saw Dr W: who assumed he knew my body better than I do and that my doubts about drugs that stop bones shedding old cells were generic too. And though I kept assuring him I’d already researched what he was mansplaining (in his dumbed-down style), he assumed that ramping up his warnings would silence me. His shortness when I said I’d come to his clinic for tests, not treatment (or not yet), doesn’t inspire trust – if healing aims for wholeness vs. terminal dependence on drugs and a system that profits from minimising their side effects. It was as if Dr W felt compelled to convince me I need saving. As if my resistance were less individual than statistical. (In fact, he asked what I’d trained in – maths? – because I understood risk assessment.)
So this week I returned to learn the results of my bloods. All normal: I’m an ideal candidate for routine treatment. And Dr B (trained by Dr W) also tosses off shallow analogies: given the stats, not choosing a yearly drug infusion would put me on the same footing as a chronic gambler. While I’ve been lucky so far, losing ‘everything’ is a foregone conclusion. And so life for me is now a giant casino. But I can’t actually leave by opting for IV medication; all I can do is halve the risk of losing. And faced with questions from outside the box, he fidgeted and checked his watch. Would you trust this doctor to do all the thinking for you?