Notes and Meditations

The recent wave of police slayings has had me thinking this way:

The police detain, question, search, arrest, torture, and kill people, far too often Black and Brown people, in service of a political and economic fiction. They are then exonerated by a legal fiction, and despite being condemned far and wide by actual people, the accounts of these various fictions and their agents are somehow more binding than the real will of real people.

These same fictions set up profit-and-loss games marketed as meritocracies but fatally skewed by social privilege, forcing these games on people with other, more humane games to play. These fictions put real people’s very lives on the line if they decide the game is rigged and try to get off the treadmill. Any violence or threat of violence to these games is seen as base treachery, and punished as much as or more than violence toward actual people.

These same fictions tell us what to do with our lives, tear apart traditional social structures in every culture they infest and replace them with alienating alternatives. We survive on currency no more real than the tickets spat out in an arcade – only our devotion to the fiction makes them valuable.

We are taught to regard these fictions as extensions of our own family – bigger versions of our own mother and/or father, with all the Freudian implications thereof. Thus we ourselves begin to emotionally invest in these fictions, seeing ourselves as powerless to do the things we see them do. We tattle on our naughty neighbors like the teacher’s pet in a great big Kindergarten, and we are taught to go to agents of these fictions rather than friends, family, or neighbors whenever we need help.

Why not write better fictions? Many have tried, and many have been crushed. Anyone who presents a serious threat is monitored, censored, discredited, recruited or disappeared. The only thing that has a chance to disrupt the prevailing fictions, perhaps, is a resistance so crazy that instead of fighting back, people humor it, and willingly join the fun. The case of Emperor Joshua Norton comes to mind.

But how can we possibly be crazy and lighthearted and joyous when our neighbors are being slaughtered in the street, by the authority of the prevailing fictions of our time?


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