Wednesday, October 15, 2008

McShingles, Gaslight, Hate, Hope (the antidote)

I. "McShingles" is what I am referring to my recent shingles outbreak as. At the current rate of inflammation progression, it looks like I will be under their spell until, ohhhh, November 4th. Really! When the election results are finally known, I will breathe a big sigh of relief and suddenly notice my McShingles are eradicated. Absolutely!

II. "Gaslight" is the name of a classic Victorian thriller play I attended last week. Written by Patrick Hamilton in 1938, set in London in the mid 1880's. The play takes the audience into a world of mystery, gaslight, secrets, hushed fears, deception, paranoia, and the stark edge of madness.

Note: Enigma's post about the Alaska Governor's Mansion and the comment thread about the mysterious Obama sign by HelenWheels and Hairball made the "gaslight" connection in my mind.

The term "gaslighting" entered the English language, coined directly from this play! It originally referred to a form of psychological abuse where there is a deliberate attempt to convince someone they are losing their grip on reality. Gradually, "gaslighting" has acquired the meaning of ruthlessly manipulating an individual, for nefarious reasons, into believing something other than the truth...

III. Which brings me to Sarah "Gaslight" Palin and her two-minute hate speeches wherein she "gaslights" her audience by invoking terror of the other, the unknown. John McShingles flings out "that one", then offers a few false-sounding reassurances when the pyschological melodrama becomes overwhelming. Meanwhile, Sarah Gaslight protects his back & keeps the audience dangerously stoked.

Her rallies remind me of the Two-Minute Hate speeches George Orwell wrote about in his novel, "1984". These were the canned broadcast speeches everyone was required to attend every day. Here is Orwell's description ... does any of it sound familiar? Warning: this way lies madness ...

The horrible thing about the "Two Minutes Hate" was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretense was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one's will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp.

The Hate rose to its climax. The face of Goldstein (DK note: Goldstein was "that one", "the other") ... changed into ... the figure of a Eurasian soldier who seemed to be advancing, huge and terrible, his sub-machine-gun roaring, and seeming to spring out of the surface of the screen, so that some of the people in the front row actually flinched backward in their seats. But in the same moment, drawing a deep sigh of relief from everybody, the hostile figure melted into the face of Big Brother ... full of power and mysterious calm, and so vast that it almost filled up the screen.

Nobody heard what Big Brother was saying. It was merely a few words of encouragement, the sort of words that are uttered in the din of battle, not distinguishable individually but restoring confidence by the fact of being spoken. Then the face of Big Brother faded away again and instead the three slogans of the Party stood out in bold capitals:

WAR IS PEACE - FREEDOM IS SLAVERY - IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

But the face of Big Brother seemed to persist for several seconds on the screen, as though the impact that it had on everyone's eyeballs was too vivid to wear off immediately ... At this moment the entire group of people broke into a deep, slow, rhythmic chant of 'B-B! .... B-B! .... B-B!'—over and over again, very slowly, with a long pause between the first 'B' and the second—a heavy mumurous sound, somehow curiously savage, in the background of which one seemed to hear the stamps of naked feet and the throbbing of tom-toms. For perhaps as much as thirty seconds they kept it up. It was a refrain that was often heard in moments of overwhelming emotion. Partly it was a sort of hymn to the wisdom and majesty of Big Brother, but still more it was an act of self-hypnosis, a deliberate drowning of consciousness by means of rhythmic noise.

IV. Well so, we have come to the end of the "Hate" portion of this post. Many others have written how dangerous this type of mindless crowd can become. I would like to think part of this is the result of an extraordinarily long campaign season. I would like to think thoughtful people recoil from this this type of manipulation.

But never fear, there is hope. Hope is the antidote! Here is the legendary Sam Cooke singing "A Change is Gonna Come" written during the civil rights movement of the 1960's ... you know how this will end .... (a 3-minute history of civil rights, with hopeful ending):



There have been many covers of this song, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin & Tina Turner come to mind, even Bob Dylan (which is appropriate since Sam always credited Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" with inspiring him to write this):

"There were times when I thought I couldn't last for long,
But now I think I'm able to carry on.
It's been a long, been a long time coming,
But I know a change is gonna come ... oh yes it will"

FINAL "DEBATE" TONIGHT!!! 9PM EDT, 6PM PDT

10 comments:

HelenWheels said...

MOST excellent post, D.K.!! OMG, they most certainly ARE gaslighting. I looked up gaslighting yesterday in light of our posting at Enigma's, and in the Wikipedia entry I believe they credit the movie, not the play with starting the term (and I love the move, btw, I'm sure the play is great).

Rove has gaslighted this country thru Big Brother Bush since 911!! And now they are turning it up to 11 on the dial with inciting lynch mobs!

I will never forgive the neocons for what they have done to this country. It's also interesting to note that I've been having many concurrent discussions about the out-and-out use of projection by the neocons these days. They always had it but it's totally out of control now. Orwell's "war is peace, ignorance is strength" totally comes to mind - they project the opposite of what they believe, what they are, what they do. They project their hates, lies, generalities on liberals and democrats, it's just bizarre but makes a lot of sense in this context.

It's a damn good thing people like us -- TRUE PATRIOTS -- are doing our job to protect the country from the growing cancer that is extreme rightwing gaslighting and uber-projection by alerting people to this type of terror.

Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

Dave Dubya said...

All very good points.

To anyone who has read 1984, those Reich Wingers chant of USA! USA! USA! really sounds like the two minute hate.

It aint the love of humanity behind that chant.

D.K. Raed said...

Helen:
to me, the saddest part about the "gaslighting" being done by McCain-Palin is that their audience seems totally ignorant about how they are being manipulated. by the time they get done whipping up the hate, their audience is willing to follow them into hell, no questions asked. ps, thank you for reminding me about that old Night Gallery episode, vis-a-vis the governor's mansion. it was so appropriate, I was gasping!

Dave Dub:
That's it, exactly! When they start mindlessly chanting USA USA, in response to whatever buzzword has been flung at them, it sends a chill down my spine. even worse is when they do it in response to some protestor.

eProf2 said...

DK, nice to see your posts again. If all it will take is the election to do away with your shingles, I sure hope Nov. 4th gets here real quick.

The YouTube by Sam Cook was a great find. I'm not familiar with the play but will look it up. It seems to me that there is a revival of 1930's and 1940's plays going on right now. Our local theatre is doing Agatha Christy this next week.

Crowds are very fickle depending on why they're gathering in the first place. If they're zealots, trouble is only a firecracker away. The Oxbow Incident is my favorite film on crowds. Scary!

D.K. Raed said...

EProf:
It seems like I'm on a 1-day good, 2-days bad schedule now. But that is an improvement over all days bad. I can hardly wait til Nov 4th!

I love that Sam Cooke song! Heard it the other night watching an HBO movie about a black DJ in the 60's & it really took me back.

The production of Gaslight that we saw was a pretty good college production -- SUU in Cedar City who are more famous for their summer Shakespeare productions.

D.K. Raed said...

(jeez, did I say "production" enough? brain lock!)

Fran said...

color me blinded by the gaslight!

I hope the mcs*it on a mcshingles] goes away both medically and literally.

D.K. Raed said...

Thanks, fran. I hope so, too.

enigma4ever said...

excellent post..and I love the song..I hope you are better soon friend...

D.K. Raed said...

Enigma, I still think it'll be election day before I am completely done with McShingles. "A Change is Gonna Come" is a classic invoking so many emotions, high and low. Sam Cooke, oh my, he was great!