Thursday, June 21, 2007

Conspiracy Theory of Dunces

Recently I re-watched a classic of paranoia from the early 1990s, Oliver Stone’s JFK. It recalls the resulting confluence of conspiracy that seeped out of the sixties following the assassination of the thirty-fifth President (as well as the subsequent deaths of important U.S. leaders). As a movie, it really is a brilliant piece of propaganda as art, willing to go for broke in an attempt to evoke the feeling of an era that somehow lost its way. In the times I’d watched it prior, I simply let the movie envelope me with it’s multiple angles and styles and its menagerie of colorful characters. I really didn’t pay too much attention to the details of what was being presented.

Now certainly I am aware that when it first appeared fifteen years ago, Stone’s telling of the conspiracy that killed Kennedy was met with the harshest of rebuffs from a variety of media sources. For the most part I dismissed those critics as not quite grasping that this, after all, was only a movie. Stone was simply providing an alternative myth to what he considered to be the myth of the Warren Report. Yet when I recently watched it, I think I started to understand what the pundits were complaining about. Stone’s use of insinuation as “fact” and his lifting up of Jim Garrison as the ultimate hero for seeking the “truth” behind what really went on that day in Dallas in some sense is a careless use of the medium. In other words, despite the flashiness and the brilliance of the filmmaking, the story itself is simply bunk. Yet the conspiracy endures.

I recognize I’m treading on some thin ice, especially given that to some degree an artist should always be free to display his or her art however he or she sees fit. That does not mean it is immune from criticism or even the occasional all out attack. But oddly, all of this exposition really isn’t about the film. As a result of my most recent viewing I decided actually to do a little research regarding the conspiracy. Using Google as my guide I searched terms such as JFK, Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby, Oswald in Mexico, JFK Conspiracy, etc. What resulted was an astonishing array of claims and counter claims and counter counter claims. Certainly I am no more an expert now than I was a week ago, but I do feel I have more of a grasp of the resulting paranoia. And perhaps that is what ultimately the truth of the conspiracy really is, the reshuffling of our own consciousness to willfully accept an alternate reality so that others in charge can do what they want. It sorta reminds me of a snipe hunt, only with a more seditious intent. Has such profundity ever been wrought?

But I digress. Right now I’m reading Delillo’s Libra, another alternative to the alternative which was equally derided as being delusional and irresponsible. But, just as the filmmaking was so good, so to is the writing. And so I continue on despite my apprehensions and complaints, knowing that there are grander, more elaborate scheming going on around me as I continue searching for answers to things right in front of me.

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