All of our myths

by Antonio Dias

It strikes me that today all of our publicly accepted myths are propped up and support profit, for someone, some entity, institution or other. As we fear the commodification of everything, everything, as can be found in the stories we turn to to give our lives meaning, has already been commodified.

All the bluster that props up our illusions of freedom and agency – these are the ones we defend so stridently and want to kill whoever challenges our opinion on the matter – result from the brittleness of our beliefs, the doubts we have that perhaps there is nothing there to support our assumptions but the bluster promoted for somebody’s profit.

We are expected – and given every incentive, including violent disincentives to trying anything else – to stay where we are. We are given every opportunity to cash into our myth of choice – it is a wide array, the big-tent of options. One clue, whenever you are shown options, there really is no choice to make. All roads lead to Rome.

It used to require a certain finesse and an ironic turn to begin to see through these charades. One could be “knowing,” with a wink and a nod to the other cognoscenti. Now, there is an industry of irony, packaged and provided with applause signs so we know when to agree. Again, there’s a list of options on tap, from Goth, to Hipster, to Teabagger, to UFO abductee. Pick your “alternate narrative” to suit your temperament.

It could be a full-time job keeping track of all the paths open to us and delineating how they lead us back to the same thing, a profit to be listed on someone’s ledger. A profit made on the backs of the destruction of all that is alive, or might ever live for a long time to come.

“Doomer.” That could be another “option.” There are some tentative efforts being made to monetize this track as well. So far these are small-scale experiments. The whole thing is really not ready to roll-out on a grand scale. There is too much content there, and the ways to fully trivialize and make it safe for profits to be made not quite worked out. It’s still best to leave most of the hard truths this line of inquiry exposes out of sight.

Among the list of dead-end traps and double-binds we’re surrounded by this is one, only one among many, part of the surfeit of methods for fulfilling the terms of our suicidal ecocide. What is significant here is that the power of failed myths to keep us on track towards an ever more certain self-destruction shows the tremendous power of myth. If some myths, backed up by the inertia of so many generations of misplaced effort, can do this, what might other myths be capable of?

This does seem to be the only worthwhile lesson to take from this. The continued effort to “counter” these lies by showing their inconsistencies in a piecemeal and haphazard fashion – or even in a fully systematized project aimed at proving them wrong – is just so much wasted effort. So much wasted attention. Granted, it is difficult when facing the latest excesses as they storm through what passes for our public awareness, say the “gun question” to name one of the most recent fads, is hard to avoid. There is a frisson and a morbid fascination in the ways we can be led to give our selves up for someone else’s gain. The vehemence of the defenses against allowing any such realization to sink in so dangerously attractive. Yet, in the end these efforts do nothing more than give attention and credence to idiocies that do nothing but keep us from any constructive engagement. This at a time when opportunities for actually constructive engagement are approaching a singularity beyond the reach of those in thrall to that other, perhaps countervailing mythology with its own set of corporate backers.

Tapping away at this keyboard and striving to put “eyes on screens worldwide” as I am here are signs of how deep our complicity, how hard it is to break free. Again, if we were to be deterred simply by the odds against any possibility of useful engagement, there were plenty of excuses to stop before this late realization began to sink in. Joyful disillusionment requires that we be unblinking about what is in play, at stake, or already lost. That combined with a sincere response to the agency we do have available to us and which can be destroyed but not taken away, that we have proprioception of our responses to what we encounter and that compassion shows us the value of life at this moment, even if that is only life as witness to what has come to pass.

This isn’t the first time, and probably not the last, when I’ve resolved to let go of the critic’s role as less than useless. There will most likely be times when I post on some quirk of the way we are led to fight for our own destruction by the deluded and powerful. I do expect to elucidate the case for why there is a direct connection between these attributes. The way power corrupts. The true meaning of corruption. These are not merely moral parables to make us nicer. These are truisms that are also unfortunately true. Beneath the language that devalues both power and corruption into a caricature of either word’s meaning is a simple statement that the easy exercise of power destroys those who have it.

But what I do hope to put more and more effort into is wrestling with story and finding ways to take it out of its current channels that only lead to someone’s short-term “gain.” In quotes because the word has no meaning in the context we insist we must continue to ignore, the context of our self-orchestrated ecocidal suicide.

This task is enormous, yes, enormous not just great. It runs into all the dangers our enormity has brought us into contact with. It does not, cannot, will not promise any salvation to anyone, least of all me. But it does appear to be the one place I can put my attention and my efforts that does not simply evaporate into the maw of futility. It is a creative act. It is also an act of compassion. It leads along a track that may find some community, some interaction with others outside of all the paths now closed or leading directly towards mass destruction. It is also a track where I can fulfill the role of witness. This final and perhaps singular occupation may be all we have left, but it is not insignificant. To witness is to be attentive, to focus awareness, and see what is there to be seen. It may be the only purpose we have left, but it is the one we may be most suited for. At least those of us resisting the purpose we ae being channeled into wholesale, the destruction of everything in the name of a few badly chosen stories. Myths in league with profit….