How Do We Reach the Brainwashed?
The antidote to propaganda is art. Thoughts on retelling the stories of 9/11 and C0VlD-19.
You may recall that, during the thick of it in 2020-2021, Covidians were immune—no, that’s not the right metaphor—they were allergic to facts. They did not respond well even to the common sense statement that, since the C0Vld-19 shots hadn’t been through long-term trials, it might be unwise to take one.
Like terrorized lab animals dosed with flight, fight or freeze chemicals, some cannot unlearn what they got from the news in 2020. They suffer from PTSD. Like veterans who jump at the sound of a car backfiring, associating any loud noises with bombs raining down on them, they are still in the midst of the War on C0v1d. Today, if you happen to say, I will not comply with any new mask or vax mandates, they will imagine that you are the Nazi fascist enemy. That’s just how their brains work now.
In his latest article, satirist and recently convicted thought-criminal, C. J. Hopkins—fearing the return of lockdowns and even nastier mandates—writes,
I know how to reach them. Hopkins knows. It’s through art and satire.
Facts don’t work on this crowd. You can send them all the carefully researched articles, documentaries, and books on the topic you can find to straighten them out, but they won’t be convinced; they are not even able to read them. Their minds have been closed and certain doors are bolted shut.
However, through narrative, an author can get inside readers’ minds and show them a new perspective. Satire, subtle satire, is particularly effective because it first lures brainwashed readers in by reconstructing the skewed reality that they are used to and then slowly introduces a few details that can dispel the illusion.
My 2015 novel, Locus Amoenus, is about a 9/11 widow, who remarries, and her son, Hamlet, becomes depressed. You get the idea.
I invited readers into the mind of the son whose father was murdered by people who are supposed to be trustworthy. The targeted audience, formerly known as the left, is generally well-educated and, for the most part, claims to have an appreciation for the bard. When they entered my story, they were primed and conditioned to sympathize with Hamlet and to hate the evil stepfather Claudius, who, in my story, is a worthless bureaucrat who helped cover up mass murder. My readers had no trouble entertaining the idea that there was some conspiracy afoot that day. (The wreckage was never tested for explosives. The government never presented a scientific theory to explain the actual collapses of the buildings. Sound familiar?)
Covidians need to return to 2020 and relive it from a different perspective. This is what fiction can do. We don’t have enough good fiction writers on the right side of history these days. The “literary” crowd is churning out identity-politics clichés— propaganda, not artful fiction.
And now I’ve written a sequel to that 9/11 novel, called C0VlD-1984, The Musical. The same protagonist who had assumed the name, Hamlet, to tell that story, assumes a new name, Winston, to tell this story. I’m working on finding a publisher for this one (not an easy task, considering the state of the publishing industry). I hope it won’t be too much longer, because I think the public could really use a good Covid satire.
In a few days, it will be the 22nd anniversary of that psyop 9/11. I’m offering the audiobook of Locus Amoenus for free. The very talented actor, Ben Jorgensen, who read the audiobook was suicided by the lockdowns in 2020. I am dedicating the new novel to him. Follow this link and listen to his unforgettable performance as Hamlet. Share it with your friends, because 9/11 is a gateway story to other kinds of skepticism, especially for Gen Z audiences. Hamlet has always been a favorite of young people discovering, for the first time, that their parents’ world is really in a “rotten” state.
Let me end by mentioning one of my favorite satirists, Mark Twain. Twain put us into the head of Huck Finn to teach us a lesson we might not have learned otherwise. When Huck ponders whether or not he should turn in his friend Jim, a runaway slave, he is deeply conflicted. Good Christian society of the day had taught him that slavery is sanctioned by God. Huck truly believes that to help Jim escape would be immoral. But he decides, “All right then, I’ll go to hell.”
Moments like this in literature serve humankind in its often-halting progress toward tolerance and peace. Throughout history, good, decent people routinely condone self-destruction, revenge, segregation, greed, fascism and war, simply because they follow those they trust. Every era has its own peculiar blindness, and going against complacency and conformity of neighbors can be more difficult than directly confronting a tyrant. It is often a disenfranchised voice, such as Huck’s, that awakens the literature of a nation, makes it more self-critical.
Twain published his famous novel a generation after freedom had been won for the slaves, but the hypocrisy continued, and Twain revealed it by using a voice unusual in literature. A “literary” writer uses language in unusual and often poetic ways to encourage critical and creative thinking. What we call “literary fiction” is writing that is conversant with the literature of the past and questions the assumptions of the dominant narratives of present society. In contrast, “general fiction” and “genre fiction” tend to affirm stereotypes and prevailing narratives. Literary fiction strives to keep readers in a constant state of awareness of the process of meaning-making by putting it in the foreground. Literary fiction authors can help readers have greater empathy for others and to better understand themselves.
You probably read a lot of non-fiction about politics and health. A cultural revolution is what we need. We need more art, music, literature exploring the alternatives. We need to reach those who are unreachable through facts. Have a listen to Locus Amoenus and share the free audiobook link with your friends to re-remember those who died on 9/11.
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