“I believe in the power of premonitions.”
—Don DeLillo, “Libra”
The above image is from the TV series The Good Place, and is of the character Janet. I’m convinced that within the Gnostic framework of the show, Janet (a quasi-robot/super-powerful AI) is supposed to represent Sophia. And that if we accept the premise that Janet is really supposed to be Sophia…to me, the rest of The Good Place really falls into place from there.
A very recommended show, if you are in the mood for something intelligent but not completely nihilistic.
Now, Linklater directed one of my all-time favorite movies, 2001’s Waking Life (note to self: do a post on the reality-bending movies of 2001).
Waking Life introduced me to two esoteric personalities: Philip K. Dick and Alex Jones. PKD is referenced in the finale’s crucial “pinball scene” (which features Linklater as himself), and Jones has a segment where he’s driving and yelling in a megaphone.
One could say that between Waking Life and 2006’s A Scanner Darkly, Linklater sort of “mainstreamed” Alex Jones (the Infowars host played a martyr to the undisclosed Cause in the latter). But he wasn’t the only one; David Lynch, Richard Belzer, and others sort of feted Jones as a type of bizarro countercultural anti-hero.
And then…well, then Obama got elected, and then Trump got elected, and somewhere between all that Jones became highly radioactive. He began referring to Sandy Hook a false flag, which to my mind was the beginning of the “end” (though I saw red flags with his “Joker Obama” meme, which seemed to careen past politics and go into ugly territory).
The more Jones got called out on what he said…the more he flipped out and doubled-down. The more his show got censured and removed from various platforms…the more insular his base…the more paranoid he got…and rinse and repeat.
And then Linklater—who at that point was directing mainstream flicks like the remake of The Bad News Bears—sort of really distanced himself from Jones.
“You know, I haven’t talked to him in *years*…I talked to him a bit during the Bush-Cheney years. He always positioned himself as anti. So when you’re anti, he’s your bedfellow.”
(Full disclosure: I appeared on his show on 2014 to promote my Edward Snowden bio comic. The Skype didn’t work and all they got was my audio squeezed in at the very end of the program…all of which was probably ultimately for the best. I did get to tell him on the program that I didn’t agree with all his positions, which he reacted to in a weirdly gracious way…but I think the Jones of 2018 is way different than that of four years previous. )
Given the current state of the United States at the moment, it all begs the question: was the “mainstreaming” of Jones (and, in turn, “conspiracy culture”) by the countercultural cognoscenti a massive fuck-up?
In one Richard Belzer interview I’ve listened to, he has expressed his regrets not specifically about Jones, but the way “conspiracy culture” in general developed. Others have doubled-down on it. Still others have drifted to the Joe Rogan “middle realm.”
A bunch of this comes down to the idea of “irony”—and the fact that one person’s ironic comedy routine is another person’s stone cold truth. I touched upon this in my recent “Who Owns Baphomet?” post, in that The Satanic Temple created their Baphomet statue as an ironic symbol, and a hundred years before that Leo Taxil created a fake history of Satanism for similar reasons.
There are people on Twitter right now arguing if the mainstreaming of the character Eric Cartman from South Park “taught” a whole generation of kids that being a racist bully is OK. And some people get super-triggered when the veracity of a beloved pop-culture icon like Cartman gets questioned. Again: I feel it comes down to whether a person has the capacity to understand irony.
If a certain portion of the population can’t comprehend irony…what is the answer here? No more Eric Cartman? Viewer warnings: “CAUTION: THIS PIECE OF SATIRE CONTAINS IRONY, IT’S NOT MEANT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY?” (Isn’t…isn’t there already such a warning before South Park episodes?)
And what about the inevitable assholes who will use the idea of irony as “cover” just to be assholic racist misogynist homophobic pricks? Metaphorically speaking: hitting somebody over the head and then screaming “IRONY!” as a defense.
People want easy answers, here. The media craves easy answers. But there are no easy answers to be found. It’s all very messy…just like existence.
Now, the irony here—THE IRON-EEEEEEEEE!!!!—is that just by simply discussing this topic, the “Alex Jones” keywords hurt me on Google search and bury my site.
This all brings me back (I just knew I had a point…somewhere) to Bill Hicks, and the Hicks/Jones conspiracy theory. For the uninitiated, let me initiate you: there’s a theory that these two gentlemen are the same person.
It’s a theory that really needs its own post devoted to it, as it gets deep (Benecio-del-Toro-as-Dr.-Gonzo-screaming-in-the-bathtub-“play-white-rabbit”-deep).
And then, of course…the $1.98 question…who will play Bill Hicks in the movie?
Admittedly, Jim Carrey first comes to mind; sort of an unimaginative “gimmie” choice, I guess (the Hicks/Jones theory reminds me of the Andy Kaufman/Tony Clifton thing), and besides I daresay Carrey is a bit too old at this point.
Anyway, here is a clip from a Hicks routine about the Kennedy assassination. It’s a really good example, actually, of the type of earlier “mainstreamo conspiracy culture” Linklater alluded to, before things became so goddamn toxic (though let’s really be real, a chunk of that culture was ALWAYS toxic).
Thank you for reading, and have a good Sunday.