Art, Truth, Masks, Deception and Power
August 1, 2009 by Carol Brouillet
I have always loved art, theater, literature, dance, poetry. Inspired by stories, ideas, in my youth, I voyaged around the world to discover for myself the difference between childhood dreams and reality. I tried to learn how to paint, but eventually gave up when I realized that nothing I could do on canvas could compete with the sheer beauty of a tree. I turned to writing, instead. In general modern art, left me cold, it struck me as lacking spirit, meaning, and rather commercial. While in China in 1983, I fell in love with the works of a Chinese artist, Huang Ge Sheng. I brought his paintings, and eventually the artist, as well, to the United States where I organized art exhibitions in California, and Hawaii. The experience organically taught me how to do “public relations” and get the attention of magazine editors, television news stations, radio stations, and newspapers.
In 1992 the film JFK disturbed me greatly and I began a long foray into understanding politics, the CIA, and the shadow side of my government. I naturally felt that if Americans knew the truth about what was going on, they would rein in their government from committing horrific crimes against other countries. I became a media activist and learned how hard it was to break vital political information into the mainstream press.
In 2004, I organized a variety show with art, music, comics, poetry entitled- Behind Every Terrorist- There is a Bush, a benefit for the San Francisco International Inquiry into 9/11. I had more luck getting key facts about 9/11 into the arts section of the local newspapers, than all my other efforts at getting the basic facts about 9/11 into the “news” section. I understand why artists, writers, filmmakers, and political activists choose to communicate directly with the public and bypass the censors that attempt to define “reality” to the masses.
When I was in college, my intellectual friends liked to play with the idea that any book, film, play could have any meaning, symbolism, interpretation forced upon it and subsequently be deconstructed, inferring that any perceived “intended meaning” could be shredded and hence was meaningless. I disagreed and found that gifted artists, writers, poets actually intend or hope that people will understand and find meaning within their works, otherwise I doubt that they would have poured their heart, soul, time, energy into creating them. Certainly there are exceptions- commissioned commercial/formula art intended to sell products, ideas, for the enrichment or benefit of particular people.
Orwell’s famous line- “In a time of universal deceit, to tell the truth is a revolutionary act” – can be understood on many levels. In a totalitarian society, where a brutal military regime is in power, criticizing the power holders or drawing attention to their crimes can actually result in being jailed or executed. The Nazis vilified and prohibited certain types of art and music during their reign. They established their own cultural propaganda apparatus; those who challenged them, such as the White Rose Society, were literally beheaded.
In order to spread critical information or ideas and survive, perhaps the best way to do so, is by cloaking it in a popular genre, novels, film, music. The nightmarish Wizard of Oz books veiled an account of the Populist Movement challenging the banking establishment over a hundred years ago.
I teamed up with a gifted artist, Blaine Machan, who created the art (and a companion website) for the Deception Dollar which I published, originally as a flyer to pass out at anti-war rallies. The larger than life dollars which featured first George W. Bush, then Cheney and included websites challenging the official narrative of 9/11 were so popular that people actually gave us money for them, and helped us to fund and promote the early 9/11 Truth Movement.
Politicians and journalists have been the most resistant to questioning the events of 9/11. Cheney, like Napoleon, believed that truth could not be suppressed, but it can be delayed until it doesn’t matter. Legends and myths hold more power in people’s minds than the facts historians turn up when the major historical actors have died. There are, however, historical patterns, mythic patterns, psychic patterns, and understanding them provides a key to understanding ourselves, the world and communicating that knowledge to others. Artists, writers, filmmakers, poets struggle to communicate the truths that they have discovered through image, metaphor, story to bypass censors, to inspire others to understand, forgive, accept, and love that which they, themselves, love.
The Star Wars films began with Episode IV- A New Hope in 1977, the prequels Episode I- The Phantom Menace doesn’t appear until 1999, Episode II- Attack of the Clones in 2002, Episode III- Revenge of the Sith in 2005. The epic evolution and fall of the galactic empire begins with a series of deceptions and false flag operations (See Star Wars and False Flag Terrorism). The historical pattern of false flag operations is well documented, Star Wars was not created nor inspired by the events of 9/11, but there are certainly allusions made in Episode III to the death of democracy, the violent deceptions used to manipulate others and consolidate power. Sun Tzu famously stated that “All war is deception.” In the battle scenes between the “good” and “evil” characters, a mythic psychic drama is waged between the damaged, self deluded power hungry villains and the heroic champions striving to save and protect the Universe from the violent tyrannical dark forces. The inner journey of Vader and Skywalker mirror the wars that span their lifetimes in a galaxy far away.
Also in 1997 the first of the seven Harry Potter books was published. My oldest child was the same age as Harry Potter when we heard about the series and began reading them aloud. My kids were enthralled, with each new book, we would gather, and I would read for hours on end. They really didn’t like the films, though, very few films could ever hold a candle to the original books, according to my children. In the magical world of Harry Potter, witches, warlocks, and magic were commonplace and ordinary, nonmagical humans and technology were oblivious or terrified by magic. Harry is miraculous, simply because, when he was just a baby, he survived a deadly attack by the most powerful, evil wizard of the time. The series chronicles the hero coming of age, as well as the unusual childhood and evolution of the powerful Lord Voldemort.
In Star Wars the main opponents were father and son, in Harry Potter the main opponents have a unique bond, rare abilities, and were, also (as in Star Wars) both orphaned. The major battles are the inner struggles between fear and love, the desire for power and the desire to defend and protect the innocent and those that one loves. In the Harry Potter books, the press has a major role and is continually being manipulated and misleading the “magical world,” to the great dismay of Harry. In Star Wars, good characters and entire armies are misled and deceived by the villainous power hungry emperor. In Harry Potter, the magical media misinforms and serves the dark forces, giving Voldemort an opportunity to collect himself, return to power and unleash terror and violence upon his world. At the same time, Harry is growing up, struggling find his own identity, greatly misunderstood, has to learn how to defend himself, his friends and is confronted again and again with death.
Both works reflect spiritual crises that people face and how the damage to one’s soul manifests in tragic events, as well as the destruction of oneself, and how a different response to a similar crisis can lead to deeper understanding of oneself, others, healing, wholeness, heroism and liberation from tyranny.
In the process of writing this essay, I have been reviewing many new documentaries and seeing patterns emerge again and again that apply to empires, as well as individuals. In real life, the Manhattan Project required vast numbers of people and, yet remained unknown to the general population; it couldn’t have succeeded without compartmentalization. The whole of the military requires extreme obedience without a detailed overview of all that is happening. Entire nations can be tricked into going to war, massive profits can be gained from selling weapons. In Star Wars and Harry Potter, the villains are hungry for power, and they greatly fear death, their struggle is, in part a struggle for immortality; they are unhesitant to sacrifice the lives of others for their own benefit.
Voldemort discovers black magic which requires murder in order for him to split his soul and hide it in various objects, so that even if his body dies, his soul can live on, seize another body and reconstitute itself. Voldemort’s power is also contingent upon a hatred of the “other,” a sense of separation and superiority. Those who serve him are the racists of the magical world, those who despise any tainted with “muggle” blood.
The heroes, in contrast, become heroes because they feel sympathy, love, loyalty and inspire love and courage in others. They face their fears and are prepared to sacrifice their lives to help and protect the people and worlds that they love. They are assisted, rescued, protected by their friends and the Universe. They discover that the power of love is far greater than the love of power. The internal and external challenges for villains and heroes is to know what is genuine and what is illusion, to identify their enemies and their friends, to discern the false from the true within themselves and in their respective worlds.
In ancient myths, one of the oldest of the gods is dismembered and the pieces of his body hidden or flung far and wide, but his wife lovingly gathers the pieces and he is resurrected to love again and sire a son. The word “remember” could be thought of as bringing together the pieces of ourselves, or of our past, to become whole again and fully conscious of our identity.
Confusion is paralyzing, to be powerful is to be able to act. Doubt, particularly self doubt weakens ones ability to act. Strong emotions such as love, hate and fear drive people to unconsciously do things that they would never do, if they were in a calm, rational state. Variations of the universal themes recur as tyrants are exposed as insane, damaged beings, engaged in self annihilation as they persecute their imagined enemies. The ultimate battle takes place within when one looks in the mirror and realizes that each of us has the capacity to choose either path, self knowledge or self deception, love or fear, service or tyranny, joy or sorrow.
In Harry Potter, the hero must seek true memories, discover why some memories have been altered in order to understand and defeat Voldemort. In the process, he discovers that his mentor, as well as his tormentor, Snape, never revealed to Harry the secrets of their youth, the forces, experiences, that shaped their lives and eventually caused their deaths. In both stories, the hero is not seeking power and domination over others, but trying to protect the innocent, those that they love. The villains are surrounded by power hungry sycophants whose fate is intertwined with the leader that they support. The struggle for power involves winning over popular opinion by demonstrating or convincing the larger population that they are being served and protected. The conflicts, clashes of narratives, deceptions, are at the heart of the human drama being played out now, politically, on a global scale. The violence is physical, verbal, psychological, legal and the most powerful institutions- governments, corporations, banks despite their weapons and money are losing their legitimacy as ordinary people awaken to the assaults upon themselves, their children, their world. It is the ordinary person finding their power and challenging corrupt institutions and abuse of power by the leaders of tyrannical violent institutions that is played out in the stories, and in our modern world.
In chess, the weakest piece is the pawn, but if it survives a journey across the board, it becomes a dynamic, powerful queen. Illusions, masks, cut out companies, mercenaries are the tools of corrupt institutions trying to maintain and consolidate their power over the public mind, resources. In the world of corporate illusion, wealth and abundance reward the virtuous, creative industries and institutions guard and protect society from crazed, evil fanatics who seek their deaths and destruction. In the physical world, violence is perpetuated by militaries seeking the lands and resources of indigenous people who have lived simply, in harmony with nature, in villages or as nomads. The civilized nations remain unaware or oblivious to the human and environmental costs of the empires which they live in and support. Each individual within the empire has the opportunity to see through the many veils of illusion, challenge injustice, champion the oppressed.
In order to succeed, masks are needed to survive within a hostile, violent world. One never knows who might be an ally, a friend, a spy. One must question one’s own motivations and drives to discern whether one is being driven by vain selfish ego or genuine love. One must learn to trust in oneself, one’s friends, the Universe through action and experience in the crucible of life.
Variations of this story, the human journey, the transition from ordinary reality to the heroic path, abound. The hero is inevitably- humble, curious, willing to learn, imperfect, subjected to temptation and the promises of wealth and power, if he serves rather than challenges the dominant power. Despite the colossal odds against him (or her), through action, experience, kindness, service to those who are weaker and in need, he nurtures heroic allies who assist and protect him. The powerful forces, suffering from self delusion and needing violence and illusions to maintain their power and control, eventually self-destruct as they turn on one another, or switch sides in a desperate attempt to survive.
“Those who win write history.” In our era, there are battles being fought on every level over the public mind. Divide and conquer has always been the rule of those wishing to maintain their positions of power. At the same time, a communications renaissance is taking place and people are humbly learning from one another and the natural world, how to serve rather than conquer life. The complexity of the intersecting stories is staggering, and yet every individual person is confronted daily with the choice of unconsciously serving empire and their own survival needs or consciously giving their time, attention to the diverse, rising movements that are standing up to empire and pioneering diverse ways to heal themselves, their communities, or other communities that are in need, and the world.
The culture wars are about telling one’s own story, finding one’s own identity. The attacks upon various groups- women, homosexuals, people of color, come from people who fear losing their position and power in the world.
The most transformative workshop that I ever experienced was entitled- “Creating Equality in Relationships.” I forced my husband to go with me, in my hopes to get more “equality” in my marriage. Bill Moyer, gently explained how alike people and institutions are in a “dominator culture” and how they use physical, verbal, and psychological tools when their sense of themselves or their worldview is threatened. In individuals, it is generally an unconscious response. Men who abuse their wives and kids do so because they want them to behave in a certain way which supports their own conception of themselves. The first step in overcoming an unconscious behaviour, the defend my life to the death, desire to argue or force another into agreement, we were taught, is to recognize when it happens, and to stop and pause, recognize that the “other” is sharing their own view of the world and themselves, and to realize that our inner peace and happiness comes from within and does not depend on someone else agreeing with us. In a peaceful culture, respect is the rule, people speak honestly, learn from one another, trust one another. They do not unconsciously force their worldviews upon one another.
The workshop helped my marriage tremendously, even now, while my passion is politics; my husband still has no interest and does not share my worldview. We do not battle, but respectfully dialogue when we discuss the day’s events. We have also consciously tried to not dominate our children, but to love, nurture, encourage, listen to them and support them. While our kids certainly have fought growing up, we spend more time playing together and have a healthy, happy cooperative household (a bit small and messy). We also see our children emulate us, in both our better and worser moments, reminding us to be more conscious of our behavior, more often, because it does greatly affect the people we love.
The thesis of Lloyd deMause’s book, The Emotional Life of Nations, is that world leaders reenact their childhood trauma’s on the world stage, often similar to those of their generation who buy into the group illusion, and that humanity’s darkest secret is the abuse of children. Only enlightened parenting and enlightened leaders can solve this problem.
When my kids were little I told them that we couldn’t solve the world’s problems by killing “evil rulers” that we had to recognize that they were injured people, seeking power and domination, to make up for their own incapacity to love and to connect with others, and that healthy loving people do not have the urge to acquire vast amounts of wealth, empires, power.
In the wake of 9/11, I was one of the first people out in the streets, calling for an investigation, challenging the official story, seeking the truth, challenging the lies, trying to stop the wars, to stop the construction of Homeland Security. I tried to do it in the most non-violent manner that I could think of- a Listening Project. I was most comfortable engaging people one on one in respectful dialogue. I had learned from my mentor, Bill Moyer, that it only takes one person to start a social movement, to see a problem and draw it to the attention of the public. I have tried for years to merge the Truth Movement with the Peace and Justice Movements, but have found great resistance.
Fear of change, on an individual and collective level is so great that I think the only thing that can and eventually will overcome it is courage and love. I feel incredibly fortunate to be a mom and have the experience of raising kids, reading them stories, playing with them, watching films with them, seeing their theatrical productions performed at the local high school. I see the same narrative themes, woven and spun, over and over again throughout the culture. I see my children going “into the woods” or into the world to discover who they really are, what is true, to choose the heroic path or succumb to the lure of wealth and status. I don’t know which they will choose, I can only love them and hope they choose courageously, wisely to seek truth and to serve life.
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