Upon Which I Smell the Roses
Written By: Jeff Behnke
In conspiracy literature, the idea that stands out as being shared most commonly amongst its writers is, unsurprisingly, the concept of the matrix: we are all being lied to in every way, shape, and form, and because mankind is so stupid, they can’t wake up from the fiction presented to them by the powers that be and live life the way it was meant to be lived. I’ve thought in the past that perhaps this wake-up call that we have received with passion was generational, that as a direct result of the internet and the birth of indigo and crystal children, finally, after thousands of years, people have figured it out, and have decided that they’re just not going to play along anymore. Finally, we have a woken up, I thought. We can live the life that we are supposed to live! One filled with realness and meaning, as opposed to false leaders and their bullshit, topped off with a hefty dose of daily drudgery.
But now, I’m not so sure. Why? Because buried in the heart of all those lies presented to us is a rather disturbing truth: when you stop playing your bullshit role that has apparently been assigned to you for bullshit reasons,you must now play another role which is just as false as the one you’ve left. In other words, this new role that you would like to play has already been covered by numerous other people, and the manner in which you play it mirrors the manner in which these other people have played it in the past as well. It’s quite natural to do so. Someone who proclaims something that you would, for whatever reason, like to believe, sets an example for you, and since you listen to what they proclaim, you are likely to follow their example and play a resulting role in the same way you played your first role before your ‘revelation.’ There is now a new potter for you, but you’re still the same clay. Yes, the revelation has changed you--but honestly, you’re still not free. You’ve just exchanged one lie for another, one example for another, one world view for another, one set of hands for another. You, as a human, want to believe and almost have to believe in something in order to function here, but everything presented to you as new ‘belief material’ within which to embed your efforts contains the same amount of bullshit. You’re trapped in it, and whatever message you care to spread across the toast of life might as well just be considered a different brand of butter. Yes, there’s a different flavor, but it’s still the same toast.
This thought naturally led me to another: given that there is no escape, is it okay to allow yourself to be lied to, accept it, and just run with it? I tried coming up with some example where I could accept lies as being ‘okay’, and my mind kept returning to computer games. You fully know while playing Call of Duty that you are not really in war, and the creators of the game have just tried to invent an immersive experience and overload your senses where you forget that you’re just on a couch with a controller in your hand. Bombs explode, people aim their weapons, and you feel like you’re there. In an MMO game such as Warcraft (or whichever you prefer), the feeling is there more than ever—that game world is so big and there are so many different things concerning your avatar to improve, quests to fulfill, that you forget the clock as the hours just spin by and you play and play. If someone were to walk in the room and call you an idiot for sitting there so long, that the world you are pretending to be in is just some fiction, you would look at them like they are idiots for bringing it up. Of course the world doesn’t exist and is pure bullshit—that’s why you play. You want the bullshit to be as real as possible so you get lost in it, and you see nothing wrong with that because that’s what we’re all doing daily anyway. You, as a player, fully accept the lie, and you don’t care.
I have a friend, for instance, who confided in me recently and told me that if it were up to him, he would shed his body and just live in these make-believe worlds full time and never look back. He would forget this world, and just fulfill the role of his choosing, fake though it may be. It reminded me of the movie Inception where the main character ultimately forgets which reality he is in and no longer has the ability—nor does he care--to distinguish the dream world from the real world. In his final world which may or may not be the real world, he makes it back to his kids. So forget about the spinning top and give them a big hug, because whether it’s a delusion or not doesn’t matter.
And what do these world creators in the movie Inception argue about with one another? How to make their creations more immersive so the avatars which populate it are more involved and don’t realize they are dreaming, losing themselves within that world so they stay there longer. Some games have more drastic consequence for death than others, some allow you to fly, some don’t. How is this world any different? Because it’s real? What makes it any more real than others? Because it hurts? Because it feels good? Because there are consequences to our actions? Well, isn’t that just another one of its ‘immersive’ features?
But things which ruin the immersive features of this matrix do leak out which gives us a kick to wake us up from the inside. Recently, for example, I ran across a series of papers written by a lawyer, discussing how much of a joke the founding of the United States was to its supposed national heroes. The first congress referred to themselves, not as the nation’s founding fathers, but as the nation’s ‘founding farters.’ His case was enhanced by a Benjamin Franklin essay on farting written about the same time which, in light of the other documents, wasn’t very funny at all. I stared at his evidence with anger, asking myself, how can they make a joke about something so important? Millions of people die believing in their nation and the importance of their nation, and to you guys, it’s just one big joke. How dare you. Fuck you all. They, however, fully accepted the lie, just as George Bush seems to have fully accepted the lie by referring to the Bill of Rights as a ‘goddamn piece of paper.’
Consider the same type of document being released on accident from the internal offices of Blizzard where they refer to their game in meetings as World of Borecraft instead of World of Warcraft. And you, a character in their world, playing it for years, would probably be just as furious, even though you knew that world wasn’t real, either. Don’t the creators that everyone looks up to respect the time, effort, heart, soul, and money that you, as a player, put in to it while playing their game? How dare they, you would think. Fuck them. And fuck that world, too.
But the World of Warcraft isn’t real, you know this and don’t care, and those ‘founding farters’ seem to have understood the same thing about Earthcraft as well. Their world, their creation, their fiction, wasn’t very real, either. Nudge nudge, wink wink, founding farters. Yet at the same time, despite their knowledge of all the fictions, they must get people to believe in it in order to obtain personal benefits while handing out things for people to do, who, in many cases, much to your dismay, actually enjoy doing them. So they set up their multi-sided evangelists to spread the word of the importance of democrats over republicans or republicans over democrats, which honestly feel just as important (or non-important) as choosing the Alliance over the Horde. The choice of one or the other doesn’t really matter, but it gives the game feature-like options—more elements to it that you can pretend to (or refuse to) play.
With these thoughts in mind, given that you have finally woken up from the Matrix and have awarded yourself with a few well-deserved pats on the back, you are probably asking yourself--now what? Do I fight back? Do I go live in the woods and stockpile canned goods and buy ammo before the lizard people appear and ransack all local Wal Marts and take off our heads? Do I open the window and scream that I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore? Do I quit my job? Or do I shrug, and just keep playing along since we cannot escape the fiction? Too many internal memos may have leaked out of this self-perpetuating lie which obviously needs some new management, but in the meantime, since there is no escape, might as well choose your race, choose your life, choose your meaning, and choose your own adventure, because ultimately that seems to be why we all signed up to be lied to in the first place. The roses may all be fake here, but regardless, every now and then you should stop and smell them anyway. I mean, who knows? You might actually like it, even if it isn’t very real at all.