Sekhnet came up to urge me to join every social media site linking businesses that I can find. I am isolated and it is an increasing problem, especially for someone trying to run a shop and attract customers. She showed me the social networking entry for an accomplished man we know, an angel investor on a site where these entrepreneurs mingle looking for opportunities. She showed me how clearly he laid out his interests, qualifications and expertise. She urged me to do the same, to advance my stalled not-for-profit business. I agreed that she was right about the usefulness of joining more sites where I might meet like-minded people, then read her part of the email I’d spent the past hour writing.
I’d been led to pet one of my favorite peeves by my friend’s emailed, on target, comment:
(“You spend way too much time petting your peeves,” Sekhnet observed.)
I’ve grown more and more bitter over the fact that nothing succeeds on its own merits–that whatever makes it in our world, does so because someone has packaged and sold it cleverly. Which helps to explain why we end up, in the culture, in our food, in our politics, with so much rancid shit.
Well said and I share the bitterness, though I try (mostly without success) not to let it stop me. A sociologist who wrote in the 1930s (Harold Lasswell, I think) whose work I read decades ago while researching Hitler’s rise to power and how ruthlessly Herr H. used the mass media to influence public opinion and promote his famously rancid ideas, concluded that “the religion of the United States is advertising”. He proclaimed this self-evident truth before TV, in the infancy of radio, when the mass media was being cranked out and printed on pages that were disseminated by child hawkers on street corners. He described how American industry sent Polish immigrants back to Poland to unfurl giant painted banners of American streets literally paved with gold and lie to the workers they fronted steerage tickets for to bring to work in factories. Greek Americans went to Greece, Italians to Italy, wherever they were recruiting they sent native recruiters to lie in the mother tongue. Woodrow Wilson’s Committee for Public Information was run by an ad man named George Creel who whipped up patriotic fervor for a war being fought by the rest of the world in muddy trenches along the lines of the worst of the Civil War, except made even more hellish by the addition of machine guns, poison gas and airplanes. There were parades in the streets and long lines at the recruiters because of Creel’s genius in whipping up support for WIlson’s senseless (except to those who made a killing) War to End War, War to Make the World Safe for Democracy, War for Fuck You We’ll Kill You Under the Espionage Act For Trying to Use the First Amendment in Time of War to Aid Our Enemies, You Fucking Traitor!
The rulers of our society have always ruled by selling lies to people raised from infancy on advertising jingles and tag lines. By the time kids are ten they’ve done their Gladwell’s 10,000 hours quota of commercials on TV, they are masters of being marketed to. Presidential debates and elections? Decided by image, body language, sound bites. A few years ago promising presidential candidate Howard Dean lost his political future by cackling euphorically into a microphone at a rally. Might have had good reason to be euphoric at that moment, he was leading in all the polls, but they played the 3 second clip of a cackling madman 24/7 until he was toast. It’s despicable what greed and cynical marketing have done to the world and it explains much of the misery, disease and early death. Capitalism is a cancer and the only cure, it would appear, is the total destruction of life on earth, which they are well on their way to accomplishing. God bless ’em. But in this context, in our competitive free market society, there is only one way to successfully sell an idea– the old fascist way, the single-minded way Mr. Hitler had such brutal insight into, to put the most distasteful possible gloss on the gentle and perfectly neutral art of persuasion. Trying to do it without retching, not always easy for the squeamish.
Sekhnet told me I should clean it up, lose the ending, and send it to the Nation as a letter or note, that people would be interested in the little history I’d presented, that I write these great things and never send them anywhere to find an audience for them.
“Did you ever read the Nation?” I asked her. She hadn’t for a long time, but knew their politics and thought their readers would appreciate a letter to the editor containing this well presented information.
I appreciate her feelings, I really do, and her desire to help. Motivated by love, and my best interests, and an understandable desire to see me step forward in the sticky muck. She agreed that it wouldn’t do to send it in without cleverly packaging it, somehow, and relating it smartly to some current hot topic, the hook. The irony was not lost on me, though I took the way of the world and said nothing about it.
Then her native optimism and desire to help rose up again– the stories of a Big Lie are so common that I won’t have long to wait until the next news cyclone generated by one, and I can send it in then!
Meantime, I do the online equivalent of printing it out, rolling it up and sticking it where the sun don’t shine.