A Nearly Perfect Analogy

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  • Zeitgeist
    defininition
    from the American Heritage Dictionary n.German.
    The
    spirit of the time; the taste and outlook characteristic of a
    period or generation

What
a wonderful tool language is. Included in the word zeitgeist are
many useful building blocks for those of us who would change the
minds of our countrymen. Zeitgeist, if you will, is a snapshot of
the present moment without awareness of the past or regard for the
future. And the perfect description of the way our countrymen "see"
their environment.

With
that introduction please rent the movie Memento
at your first opportunity. Readers of LRC are busy and productive
people so I'll do a brief but inadequate review. I promise the movie
is worth your time.

Memento
is Leonard's story. Leonard has had a bump on the head a cannot
remember anything for more than a few short minutes before it simply
fades away. His memory of his life before the bump on the head is
perfect so he is a complete and competent person but one whose brain
"doesn't make new memories."

Consequently
Leonard's present is all trivia which he photographs with his Polaroid
or writes on Post-its or has tattooed to his body just to get from
one half hour to the next. He is fully reliant on the photos, notes,
and tattoos with no method to backcheck them, but he trusts them
completely because they are his own. Leonard develops these notes
and tattoos via his liaisons with people he has trusted but can't
remember why. Leonard has loads of native intelligence and life
experience but his system of memorizing is flawed, but he can't
know it.

Leonard
is a sympathetic character and we like him.He is driven to murder
by revenge – he knows this only because his notes tell him
so. But he is not innocent. In fact he is a serial killer, but he
doesn't know that either. Nor is anyone in his consort innocent.
They are fully corrupted manipulators who use Leonard to their own
murderous ends, usually for financial gain. But alas Leonard cannot
know this either. Though guilty, Leonard is a victim. Leonard's
zeitgeist begins anew every ten minutes.

Now
for the allegory part.

Isn't
Leonard a nearly perfect allegory for the people we share the country
with? Exclude the drop-outs and drug addict types at the bottom
of society and the LRC types at the top and what's left is that
great mass of competent yet memory deficient countrymen who through
evasion or common sloth won't remember diddly.

Their
memory is like a cassette tape. It holds only so much information
then has to erase itself to merely record more. To wit: At 9 A.M.
September 11 all their memories were wiped clean, and history began
anew. All they were left with were the images on their tapes and
the sweet surrender to that most base of instincts Revenge. The
allegory? Afghaninistan the country pays the murderous price for
the crime it did not commit, while the object of America's revenge
is erased only in memory.

For
our countrymen there is no twelve year jihad on the defenseless
citizens of Iraq, no Israeli/Palestinian death match, no thousands
of US soldier-Infidels on the Arabian peninsula irritating the bejeebers
out of the already festering locals. Nope, for our countrymen their
zeitgeist began anew on Sept 11. On that day their zeitgeist became
that of hapless victim. There's no room for cause and effect relationships
in this geist.

But
what of our countrymen's consorts? Poor Leonard trusts a pair of
shameless manipulators each using him for contradictory but similar
purposes. As with the governed, Leonard happily consents to being
used because he thinks he's getting Revenge. Poor Leonard relies
on his memory tools to get him through the day, but the memories
provided him by his "protectors" are false. Poor Leonard
relies on perfect logic to arrive at false conclusions because his
"protector"-provided premises are corrupt.

And
so it is with the governed. Let's be clear on this point. I mean
to say our government lies to the governed. But just as Leonard's
protectors tell only enough truths to keep his trust and prevent
him from deducing the truth, so does our government . But I don't
need to lecture the LRC types. We already know this allegory turns
on Republicans and Democrats.

In
a wry plot twist one of Leonard's consort tries to make Leonard
feel bad about what he's doing by making him feel good about it.
He says "So what if you lie to yourself about (sic) killing.
There's nothing wrong with that, we all do it!" Isn't it allegorical?
The government croons and the governed conspire in silence to make
themselves feel good about the killing by simply lying to themselves.
Another of the wry twists: Leonard often burns Polaroid evidence
of his complicity without explanation or memory of doing it.

Why
is the allegory almost perfect? Because Leonard's condition was
put upon him, he did not choose it. Our countrymen, on the other
hand, choose it. Time after time after time they prefer the Innocence
zeitgeist. They prefer feeling good about themselves over honest
introspection. We know it as evasion, not victimization.

So
what's the point to this troubling movie review? I'm sure most visitors
and certainly all the contributors to LewRockwell.com love what
America was and can be again. We despair for the virtues and values
that once made America great. We despise rot and those who would
put it on us.

But
mainly we think of ways to change minds, to allegorically grab our
dolt of a neighbor by the shoulders and shake him until his brain
and memory start to work again.

Perhaps
you can direct your neighbor to Memento with an explanation of the
allegory and maybe, just maybe, each of us will bring one more person
around to our way of thinking.

As
Leonard says in the film " we all need mirrors to remind us
who we are." Memento is that mirror, and maybe your neighbor
will see himself in it.

January
4, 2001

Jack
Glaab [send
him mail
] is
an independent security consultant in Detroit.

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LRC

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