Yes Virginia, There is a Bogeyman

BogeymanBeware the suits. (Actually, I couldn’t find a good picture of the Bogeyman, but this self-portrait in suit will do).

Parents used to scare their children into proper behaviour by threatening that the Bogeyman would get them if they didn’t behave. The Bogeyman was watching you, just like God, the angels, and Santa Claus(?) Maybe that set the cornerstone for an adult life of confusion, anxiety, anal retentiveness, bed-wetting, Conservatism, and utter perplexity. Was God the Bogeyman? Was the Bogeyman Santa Claus? Was my guardian angel the Bogeyman?

Under the bed, in the closet, in your cell phone, down the hall, at the window, behind the door, beneath the rug, behind the curtain, in the television (that one, I’m sure, is really, really there). People might get over the trauma of learning that Santa Claus isn’t real, or become cynically wounded and jaded in adult life. But they never seem to get over their fear of the Bogeyman. Probably because Santa was expensive, but the Bogeyman came gratis, (as all nasty things usually come cheap).

Be careful what you say and do, or the Bogeyman’s gonna’ get to you.
In order to be saved, you must be very well behaved.
If you don’t want to attract the Eye, just try to be the Average Guy.
Don’t do nothing to attract attention, you might end up in State detention.
Whatever else you might be after, O try to be good for Mr. Clapper!
If you don’t like what you’re seeing, you always have the choice of kneeling.
But once you grovel and submit, it tends to become your daily habit.
All you must do is conform, and agree that this is the only norm.
If you want to be beyond suspicion, practice, practice self-inhibition.
Try to be respectable. Stay inside your cubicle.

Alas, the Bogeyman is now very real, and it’s effectively called the surveillance State.

One should really be careful what one conceives of in the imagination.

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6 responses to “Yes Virginia, There is a Bogeyman”

  1. LittleBigMan says :

    James Clapper’s clownish reply: “I gave ‘least untruthful’ answer” when he was asked about the NSA Surveillance by a senator from Oregon. James Clapper, by his own admission, misled Congress. He has, by his own admission, has broken the law and he is still walking around a free Bogeyman!

    • Scott Preston says :

      No! Mr. Clapper is a crapper? Never took the Boy Scout oath?

      • LittleBigMan says :

        LOL, probably not 🙂

        • srosesmith says :

          In today’s TomDispatch : RE the possibility of “rendition” : i.e., kidnapping — to get Edward Snowden from Russia : “We are, in other words, in a new world where practices that once would have shocked have become the norm of news and pundit chitchat.”
          I’m surprised I keep getting surprised by this stuff that’s now daily!

  2. Scott Preston says :

    “We are, in other words, in a new world where practices that once would have shocked have become the norm of news and pundit chitchat.”

    The “new normal” is actually a pretty old one. Unfortunately, people’s historical memory is quite bad, so it isn’t recognised that these are the symptoms of an era in process of self-negation and self-contradiction. The situation of the secular power today in “Late Modernity” (or post-modernity) is the same as that of the disintegrating ecclesiastical power in the Late Middle Ages — “extraordinary rendition” (“disappearing” of heretics, or Nacht und Nebel operations), rehabilitation of torture, suspension of habeas corpus, and other aspects of inquisition (including mass surveillance). The argument that “you have nothing to fear if you keep your nose clean” about mass surveillance is the argument of an Inquisition. There are very many other numerous and precise parallels that permeate the entire culture, including conspiracy theory paranoia (some maybe even closer to the truth than we might think). Even these “zombie walks” (amongst other things) remind of certain bizarre public spectacles in the Late Middle Ages.

    The “democratic deficit”, which has become much talked about lately, is the objective correlate to Gebser’s “deficient rationality” more generally. This “deficient rationality” is to the Age of Reason exactly what Rosenstock saw as “insufficient faith” as the final problem of the Age of the Church (or Age of Faith) and its own self-negation.

    The whistleblower is, to some extent, the secular parallel to the heretic. Snowden, Assange, Ellsberg, Drake, Manning, and others are not “radicals” or “extremists” (the secular terms for “heretic”). They are, rather, defenders of Enlightenment principles, much as the “heretics” of the Late Middle Ages were looking to restore primitive or original Christianity against a corrupted ecclesiastical power. Oddly enough, revolutions are always returns — or attempt at returning (like the Prodigal Son). This is true of every revolution I know of — they all found their models in some past “Golden Age” from which present society had deviated (the Jacobins and the Greek Golden Age, Luther and primitive Christianity, the Russians found their model in the idyllic “Mir” — the peasant village. Blake’s revolutionary instincts were connected with his vision of a lost Golden Age. We see what this “Golden Age” really is from the examples — it is an intuition or imagination of Gebser’s “ever-present origin”).

    What Seth wrote about the perils of our time ( https://longsworde.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/the-most-haunting-words-in-all-literature/ ) are words equally true of the Late Middle Ages but with this one additional problem highlighted by Gebser — man’s sense of responsibility is not commensurate with the power of technology.

    • srosesmith says :

      One of the things I appreciate so much about your commentary is the reminder — with excellent specifics given — that this current situation is nothing new, just somewhat newly dressed. And your faith-full way of putting these things in the context of our human task — that we signed up for immemorially! — rather than our terrible fate. Thank you, Scott!

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