The great derangement in this society is precisely the manner in which a culture falls apart. And this is why there is no easy fix. It’s like we’re approaching a socioeconomic event horizon. In physics, the event horizon is the zone where time and space and reality are warped beyond all recognition as one enters into a black hole. We’re in the middle of this process sociologically, approaching the singularity of capitalism, entering the final acceleration where the fabric of this social reality will become more and more insane, reality turned upside-down, where the earth really does seem flat and fascist, in-real-life social reality molded by Facebook algorithms. Where we see all the paranoid tropes and fears and desires whiz by faster and faster so that we can never keep up with the 500 television shows we can’t seem to turn off vying for our ever shorter attentions, where our deranged reality becomes spaghetti-fied and ripped apart at the seams.
Yet we are trained by the stories of this self-styled individualism, its attendant self-obsession over personal wounds and desires that must be faced. As if stories were there to serve only a private therapeutic function. This basic level of selfish heroism is in fact a fantasy. And perhaps, I suppose it could be argued, a necessary one in some respects because it is itself a bulwark against an unbearable reality of our own foolishness, our own meaninglessness, our own boredom, the slow tedium of everyday life. We are, perhaps all, in fact becoming Walter Mittys – or perhaps a better more recent example is Sam Lowry from the film Brazil – one of the quintessential American heroic tropes. We’re all timid bored milquetoasts trapped in an addicted consumer-driven neoliberal dystopian nightmare who increasingly rely on heroic fantasy to cope with reality becoming more and more unbearable.
Oh how long our ancestors have suffered over the centuries without WIFI! Whatever did they do with themselves? What’s more – aren’t you grateful for the silicon gifts? Always remember, Alan Turing died for our sins! Hallelujah for the Turing Machine! Amen for the iPhone we are saved!
Try actually seeing Stonehenge and it’s not at all like the movies. The sacred stones are protected behind a fence which protects them from the thousands of people rushing up to see it. Even though you have seen the pictures, have the postcards, have the video, everyone feels compelled to whip out their own smart phones … to get one of their own crappy pictures to go along with it. To be the personal photographer of Stonehenge, only this time joining hundreds of other people who all think they are special with their own personal photos too.
The ruined malls pierce the consumer cultural veil. Where there was once children lining up to take a picture with Santa now has become a zombified postindustrial space. Some economists are predicting that in five years, half of the 5,000 malls in America will become ghost malls. Santa must find other places I guess.
If left on this path, like a runaway train, like a dinosaur, it’s set on creating in the 21st Century, a new kind of dynastic capitalism which codifies an allowance for the excesses of the robber baron classes with the façade of democracy. We are near, or already in, Elysium, where only the wealthy have access to quality healthcare and can get into Jodie Foster’s cure-all chamber, and education, and where the games of the working class are their entertainment.
The following explores further the character of the conservative American hero from dime novel westerns and detective stories to film noir to the ever popular super hero genre. There emerges the quintessential American hero drawing from all of these action genres the singular influence of Batman.
… D.H. Lawrence may had this heroic ideal in mind when he described in Studies in Classical American Literature, “But have there the myth of the essential white America. All the other stuff, the love, the democracy, the flourishing into lust, is sort of a by-play. The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted”