September 10, 2013
No one will die. Syria is a fiction. Brian Williams, who will narrate the attack, is just the latest Pixar cartoon.
This is what I told Mr. Shrink this morning. He frowned and said the drugs weren’t working. I didn’t let him stop me. I kept going.
I told him Obama and Kerry are producers who are trying to sell the series to the networks. They’ve got the sponsors lined up, but there’s an argument about whether it should be three episodes or 12.
One NBC exec remarked, “Okay, so we have the initial missile launch. That’s one night. But afterwards, do we see ground troops? If not, the whole thing could be a bust.”
Kerry said, “If we play it right, we’ll have ground troops. They’ll take a few small towns. Maybe a city.”
CNN has built a studio in Atlanta, consisting of two rooftops, where Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper will do stand-ups in bush jackets, as they pretend to watch the missiles in the sky.
Mr. Shrink put up his hand to halt me.
“Look,” he said, “you’ve gone off the rails. Syria is real. People will die there, innocent people.”
“No,” I said. “And you know how I know that? Because you’re sitting here talking to me. If you really believed innocent people were about to die, you’d be out in the street, protesting, doing something. But you’re not. You’re crazier than I am.”
That stopped him for a few seconds.
He leaned back in his chair and slanted his head to one side and smiled. He shook his finger at me.
“You’re delusional but clever,” he said. “You’re playing some kind of angle. What is it?”
“No angle,” I said. “Ever since television came in, there’s been nothing but television. All other reality was banished. People just don’t realize it yet.”
“Well,” he said, “in that case there’s no problem. You must be very happy knowing all suffering has ceased. We’re all just watching television.”
“No,” I said. “You’ve got it wrong, Doc. I’m here because I’m afraid television is a fragile medium. Any number of events could cause it to go offline. And then where will we be? We’ll sink into a great Void.”
He sniffed a therapeutic opening.
“What’s this Void like?” he said.
“It’s dark,” I said. “There’s no programming. No news, no CSI, no Law and Order. You know what that means? The concomitant programing in our minds will cease as well, because we’re all wired for television and nothing else.”
“So we’ll just sit there in the great Void and stew in our own juice?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “It’s a moot question. You’re asking me to comment on what I’d be like without my internal programming. But I can only respond to you THROUGH my programming. Get it?”
He sighed and looked at his watch.
“You’re screwing with me,” he said. “Syria is real. The war would be real. The missiles are real. The destruction and loss of life would be very real.”
“Look at it this way,” I said. “Suppose, as you say, the war is real. But suppose it isn’t on television. Nothing about it, the debate, the lead-up, the attack…none of it is on television. Therefore, none of us know anything about it. See? So I ask you, would they stage the war at all? What would be the point if it wasn’t on television? The so-called message we’re sending, the punishment for Assad using chemical weapons, the muscle-flexing. It wouldn’t work. It wouldn’t play.”
He stood up. He started pacing around.
“In other words,” he said, “we all have a disease called television. We don’t know how sick we are.”
“Exactly,” I said. “It’s all-embracing. Wall to wall. The television disease is reality now. Ever since 1950, it’s all there is.”
“You need a better drug,” he said.
“I already have a drug. The screen.”
“But it’s counter-productive,” he said.
“So cure me.”
“I don’t think I can.”
“You make up stuff all the time. You’re making up stuff now.”
Suddenly, across the room, the television set, sitting on an oak table, went on. A large face filled the screen. It was a man’s angry face. The man spoke:
THIS IS THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. ALL CONVERSATION ABOUT THE WAR WILL STOP NOW. IT IS NOW ILLEGAL TO DISCUSS THE WAR. YOUR GOVERNMENT IS DEBATING THE ISSUE AND WILL SOON COME TO A CONCLUSION. ANYONE CAUGHT DISCUSSING THE WAR WILL BE ARRESTED AND QUARANTINED. I REPEAT, STOP DISCUSSING THE WAR.
The face vanished. The screen was blank. The television set turned off.
“See,” I said. “It’s starting.”
Mr. Shrink was blinking. His face was pale.
“What the hell are you talking about?” he said.
“They just censored the news.” I said. “Pretty soon there won’t be any more news. Then the other programs will go away. Television will cease.”
“You’re stark raving mad,” he said.
The television set came back on. The same bland angry face was there:
AS OF THIS MOMENT, ALL TELEVISION PROGRAMMING WILL STOP. THERE WILL ONLY BE GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCEMENTS. WE ARE IN A CRISIS. WE WILL KEEP YOU UPDATED.
The set turned off.
The shrink sat down hard in his chair. He looked straight at me.
“What’s going on?” he said.
“Well, Doc,” I said, “apparently we’re all heading for the Void.”
“No!” he said. “There has to be television!”
“No,” I said. You’re off the mark there. There doesn’t have to be television. There only has to be government. Do you see? Government is the last stand against people being by themselves thinking their own thoughts.”
“What thoughts?” he said.
“Looks like we’re about to find out. But I don’t think it’s going to be pretty. Like I said, the war is only a television event. Without war, we all hit the Big Nothing. That’s where we’re just…wherever we are.”
“AND WHERE IS THAT?”
“In the reality that is finally real.”
He shook his head vigorously. I thought he was going to dislocate his spine.
“WE’VE GOT TO HAVE WAR SO WE CAN HAVE TELEVISION,” he said.
“Now you’re getting it,” I said. “When did that idea first occur to you? Was it just now…or was there a time, perhaps, in childhood when you realized it?”
He leaned back in his chair and took a deep breath and let it out.
“I remember when I was nine,” he said. “I was all alone in the house. My parents had gone down the street to see a neighbor. I didn’t want to go. I was sitting in the living room watching the news. I suddenly wondered what would happen if there wasn’t any news.”
“You mean you wondered what would happen if there was nothing newsworthy to report?”
He closed his eyes.
“No,” he said. “I just wondered what would happen to people if the news stopped.”
“And how did you feel when you had that thought?”
“I felt happy. I don’t know why. Then I felt guilty.”
“You felt guilty?” I said. “Why?”
He paused, then opened his eyes and looked at his hands.
“I think I felt guilty because I felt…powerless. I wanted to…invent my own news. I wanted to invent a completely different kind of news. But I didn’t think I could. The networks were too strong. I didn’t see how I could go up against them.”
“That’s interesting,” I said.
“Yes,” he said. “It is. Even at that age, I saw we were all living in a bubble.”
“And war reinforces that bubble.”
“But,” he said, “war is real. People die.”
“Of course it is. Of course they do. But if they can’t put it on television, then what?”
He thought about it.
“Then we might wake up,” he said. “They’d keep killing lots of people and we’d wake up, and then something different would happen. I don’t know what it would be, but…”
He smiled. He reached into his jacket pocket and took out a pistol. He checked the load and extended his arm. He fired three shots into the television set. The screen exploded.
He laid the gun down on the desk.
We sat there for a minute.
“Listen,” he said, “can I come back next week? Do you have an opening? Same day, same time?”
“Of course, Doc,” I said. “I’ll be here. But listen. Those psychiatric journals you keep stealing from the library? Try to ease off on that. I wouldn’t want you to be in jail and miss your appointment. Your parole officer is a bit of a hard-ass.”
He stood up and looked around the office.
“We might be getting somewhere,” he said.
“Yes,” I said. “Good work today. See you next week.”
We had a long road ahead of us, but for the first time, I believed we were making progress.
The author of two explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED and EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free emails atwww.nomorefakenews.com
This article was posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 4:32 am