I was working at the gas station yesterday when some woman walks in and announces to anyone that she's happy that we finally got "that Al Zachary." I think she meant that al-Zarqawi. But whatever. Might as well be the same guy... She jerked her thumb at the TV hanging from the wall, so I'm pretty sure she was referring to the subject of this all-day, news-channel, edge-of-the-abyss LieFest.
She somehow zeroed in on me as a sympathetic ear. "I hope they get that guy with the glasses, too. He's crazy."
'I hope they get that guy with the glasses...' Whoever that is...in this latest installment of American Insanity. Is this how it ends? Is this how America gets conquered? Not by a hell's-breath nuclear flash or guys with guns, but by a television show? Could it truly be this easy? Is that all the Soviets really had to do was to buy all the TV stations? Bravo...I guess...
"You know that's not real..." I pointed at the TV. Again, not my place to seek out people whose conceptual models of reality I may destroy, but she made the mistake of thinking I was "down" with her housewife's appreciation of epic geostrategic gambits. "It's like a movie."
"How can you say that?!" Not, 'Well that's a startling position,' or, 'The Al Qaeda cross-border influence with the Sunnis will be reduced to a tenable level.' Or whatever. Her only complaint was that I was calling into question her reality. She found this emotionally disturbing. It was as if I was riding with a friend in her car and, seeing her about to barrel through a red light, said flatly, "The light is red." How can you say that?
And the newspeople on the TV looked like they really believed what they were saying. I would expect them to, as their paychecks are dependent upon this version of events being real.
Everyone's material and emotional security are now dependent upon a television show's being real.
I remember that Truman Show movie. Our guy wanders through life, not knowing that he's inside a gigantic television show, where his neighbors and his mailman and his friends are all actors. They're all in on it. And someone's sitting in a control booth somewhere, directing this grand reality show.
I sometimes think that this has all got to be a joke...or a punishment. What soul-level, karmic offense did I commit to warrant this? I don't question that I may deserve such a thing...I'm just curious to know what I did.
If it's not a punishment, is it a joke? Am I being "Punk'd?" Did I win entry to a reality show, get administered a memory-erasing drug, and am I now the subject of some enormous, nationwide, meta-ironic performance-art piece? That would be quite the joke: The Battle of the Performance-Art Pieces. Serves me right, I suppose. I arrogantly thought I had the resources to truly compete.
Is this how it ends? Is this how I go insane?