11 April 2010

Paranoia Strikes Deep . . .

Paranoia is an unfounded or exaggerated distrust of others, sometimes reaching delusional proportions. Paranoid individuals constantly suspect the motives of those around them, and believe that certain individuals, or in general, are "out to get them (http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com).

Last evening I saw Roman Polanski’s new film, “The Ghost Writer,” a paranoid nightmare of suspicion and fear. In this film, no one seems to be who or what they are; as we learn repeatedly throughout the film, how much we don’t know about anyone points up how powerless that lack of knowledge renders us. Without the ability to make some somewhatidentity, power becomes amorphous and untraceable, but nonetheless potent because of that invisibility. Every character in the film is “a ghost,” and not really there; as a ghost they have no substance, and therefore, are essentially unapproachable and unreachable. There is talk, but who speaks? there is action, but who acts? One speaks, but to whom does one speak? There is no way to control meaning when the one to whom I speak is not the one to whom I think I am speaking.

I think my life has been somewhat characterized by paranoiac possibilities. I have stood in the muddied waters of the Kennedy assassination and the resulting conspiracy theories. I have wondered about the larger questions surrounding the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. by James Earl Ray. I have survived the execution of the Vietnam War, and the war against the anti-war movement. I mourned the deaths of my colleagues at Kent and Jackson State, and cursed John Mitchell and Richard Nixon for their complicities in these horrors. I remained riveted by the prosecution of the Chicago 7, and terrified by the persecution of the Black Panther movement by the FBI, and appalled by that agency’s vilification and persecution of Martin Luther King); I was terrified by Watergate and Iran-Contra. I mourned for the election stolen by George W. Bush and his conspsirators. I watched in horror at the destruction of the Twin Towers, and the slimy and deceptive motives by the dirty politicians justifying the invasion of Iraq. Even as I write, I feel the list endlessly growing. I despair. I am a Jew in the world which in the last century tried to annihilate Jews. And this wasn’t the first time the attempt had been made.

“Paranoia strikes deep/Into your life it will creep.” Indeed. Something is happening, here Mr. Jones, and I almost never know what it is. I only saw what they let me see.

In this vein, I think, I was sickened this morning when I heard some Republican on the radio anticipating the 2010 mid-term elections. He said we have to focus on ‘taking back the country.’ What could that possibly mean? Take it back from whom? What must Republicans think of democracy that they could make such statements such as this?


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