Crimes That Don't Break Any Laws(excerpted from the revised and expanded edition of
Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia)
We're psychically assaulted by dangerous images and sickening words every day. The media relentlessly blast us with their trendy doom and gloom fixation, generating an endless onslaught of messages about how bad life is and what a mess the future will bring. The entertainment industry force-feeds us insipidly paranoid scenarios that keep our fear reflexes chronically throbbing.
Is this acceptable to you? It's not to me.
Our eyes and ears are constantly scalded by blistering harangues to buy stuff we don't really need. The sacred temples of our imaginations are pounded ruthlessly by smart bombs whipped up by evil advertising geniuses in their Madison Avenue laboratories. Our ability to envision the astounding intricacy and richness of the web of life has gotten hijacked and hooked on decadent fantasies about new possessions that would allegedly make us happier.
I for one am no longer willing to absorb the dazzling psychic toxins that sting and sap and wound our lust for life. I reject the epidemic obsession with big bad nasty things and flashy trite empty-hearted things. I say it's time for us to rise up and fight back -- to reconsecrate and regenerate our imaginations. Here are my demands.
DEMAND #1: I demand that Amnesty International launch a crusade against a grievously unacknowledged form of terrorism. I call this crime against humanity the genocide of the imagination.
DEMAND #2: I demand that you refuse to be entertained by bad news. I demand that you seek out and create stories that make you feel strong and joyous and enigmatic.
DEMAND #3: I demand that People magazine do a cover story on "The World's 50 Sexiest Perpetrators of Beauty, Truth, and Love."
DEMAND #4: I demand that you learn the difference between your own thoughts and those of the celebrities who have demonically possessed you.
DEMAND #5: I demand that you wear underpants on your head and dance naked in slow motion whenever you watch TV movies about tormented geniuses who supposedly create great art but treat everyone in their lives like crap.
DEMAND #6: I demand that the sadomasochist storytellers disguised as journalists give prominent coverage to the startling fact that the world has become dramatically less violent since the end of the Cold War, and that we are currently living in the most peaceful era the human race has ever known. I further demand that the worshipers of cynicism who pretend to be clear-seeing news writers acknowledge that death rates from cancer are declining; that rising rates of intermarriage are helping to dissipate ethnic and religious strife worldwide; that Americans' IQ scores have been steadily rising for a long time; that the number of people living in poverty in the developing nations is declining dramatically; that the world is steadily becoming more free, and is now the most free it has ever been; and that the miracle of your breathing transpires about 10 million times a year, even though you never have to will it to continue.
I have more demands, but I want to make sure you know that your imagination and the imaginations of everyone you know are at risk. And who's responsible? Who are the perpetrators of the genocide of the imagination? I call them the entertainment criminals.
They're the nihilistic creators and dramatis personae who spread the propaganda that trouble and strife and disintegration are more worthy of our attention than integrity and splendor and quantum leaps.
The entertainment criminals are the decadent fools who preach the bizarre doctrine that witty gloom is the mark of a deep thinker. They are the educated idiots who try to trick us into believing that optimism is solely for naive fools with no aptitude for critical thinking.
The visionary philosopher Buckminster Fuller said, "When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only of how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong."
To the entertainment criminals, Fuller's perspective is heretical. With the know-it-all certainty of religious fanatics, they imply with every word and image they produce that there is rarely such a thing as a beautiful solution.
DEMAND #7: I demand that the salesmen of degradation who pass themselves off as storytellers give themselves the challenge of creating engaging sagas whose plots are not driven by violence, alcoholism, abuse, suicide, prostitution, bigotry, lawsuits, greed, crashes, pathology, crime, disease, and torture.
I heard an interview with the German film actor Udo Kier. He specializes in playing villains. "Evil has no limit," he sneered, blustering like a naughty genius. "Good has a limit. It is simply not as interesting."
How many times have I heard that idiotic cliche? Most everyone everywhere seems to agree with Udo Kier. And I'm in a tiny minority in my belief that evil is boring. There seem to be few thinkers, communicators, and creators who share my curiosity about exploring the frontiers of righteous pleasure and amusing truth and boisterous integrity.
Some pretenders do make counterfeit attempts: Hollywood producers who produce sentimental fantasies with artificially happy endings, advertising executives who sell the pseudo-positivity of narcissistic comfort, and New Age gurus who ignore the darkness with their one-dimensional appeals to sweetness and light.
DEMAND #8: I demand that the demoralizing propagandists who impersonate objective reporters go ahead and confess that the acreage devoted to organic farming is increasing rapidly all over the world; that violent child abduction by strangers has dropped precipitously; that the birthrate among teenage mothers is the lowest it has been in decades; that most HMO executives now believe prayer and meditation can expedite the healing process; that vast supplies of frozen natural gas lie beneath the oceans, harboring more potential energy than all of the world's oil reserves, and could be mined with the right technology; that if forced to decide between having a bigger penis and living in a world where there was no war, 90 percent of all men would pick universal peace; and that the giant timber company, Congolaise Industrielle des Bois, voluntarily agreed to stop cutting down trees in a virgin rain forest in the Congo.
DEMAND #9: I demand that the purveyors of despair who pretend to be dispassionate observers of the human condition go ahead and disclose that the 10 most beautiful words in the English language are chimes, dawn, golden, hush, lullaby, luminous, melody, mist, murmuring, and tranquil; that Greenland is literally covered with rubies; that Java sparrows prefer the music of Bach over that of Schoenberg; that math experts have determined there are 1.96 trillion ways to lace up your shoes; that the Inuit term for making love is translated as "laughing together in bed"; and that according to Buckminster Fuller, "pollution is nothing but resources we're not harvesting."
The word "imagination" gets little respect. For many people, it connotes "make-believe" and is primarily the domain of children and artists. But the truth is that your imagination is the engine of your destiny. It's the single most important tool you have in your daily campaign to be free. It's the source of every act of liberation you will ever need to pull off.
That's why it's so disturbing to know that all over the planet, the imagination is deeply wounded—paralyzed by the media's nonstop onslaught of toxic psychic waste. How can you generate images that energize you to create your highest good if your mind's eye is swarming with dazzling yet vacuous and fear-inducing stories crafted by the most monumental brainwashing juggernaut in the history of the world?
To get a sense of the growing devastation, I suggest you wander around a grade school playground at recess. You'll hear kids' conversations overflowing with the degrading narratives they've absorbed from their favorite sources of information and stimulation.
I call this ongoing tragedy the genocide of the imagination. Because of it, many people cannot access their greatest magical power. They have forsaken the sanctity of their sacred temples, allowing them to be defiled with soulless images and stories that are at odds with their deepest desires. As a result they live incoherent lives corroded by chronic anxiety.
DEMAND #10: When you're too well-entertained to move, screaming is good exercise. Which is why I demand that you scream frequently whenever you're soaking up slick crap generated by the imaginations of people who are devoted to money, power, and ego instead of love, reverence, and play.
DEMAND #11: Recognizing that the epidemic of sleep-deprivation and the widespread impoverishment of dream life play a key role in abetting the genocide of the imagination, I demand that you get at least eight hours of sleep every night.
DEMAND #12: I demand new video games with socially redeeming value, like a game called "NirvanaStorm," in which players negotiate eight levels of Buddhist revelation with a character who resembles the Dalai Lama.
DEMAND #13: Since the genocide of the imagination is at least partly the result of men monopolizing the entertainment and news industries, I demand that women fill half of all jobs at ABC, MTV, CNN, NBC, PBS, NPR, CBS, FOX, Newsweek, Time, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, AP, Reuters, and USA Today. I further demand an affirmative action program for the image of God: From now on She must be depicted on at least 15 percent of all TV shows as an African American mother of four.
DEMAND #14: I demand a one-month global media fast. Avoid all newspapers, magazines, TV, movies, radio, and Internet for 30 days. Return to the primordial silence or else! To expedite purification during this time of renewal, I demand that you discuss your dreams with your loved ones every morning and gather your friends for storytelling circles every evening.
If we hope to prevent the genocide of the imagination, we've got to perpetrate massive, mirthful attacks of pronoia. But we have to do it without acting like True Believers, because fanaticism is anathema to our cause. Our strategy is to be blithe and flexible as we learn not just to believe, but actually perceive the truth that life is a benevolent conspiracy designed to keep mutating our immortal souls until they're so far beyond perfection that perfection is irrelevant.
We will succeed. We will overthrow the doom and gloom fixation and make the cause of zoom and boom irresistible. Our parties will be better than theirs. Our jokes will be funnier, our jobs more enjoyable, our lovemaking more revelatory. We'll dream up tricks to create an environment in which it's more fun and interesting to talk about wise bliss than clever cynicism.
We will build shrines devoted to righteous pleasure and amusing truth and boisterous integrity in the ugliest places we know. We will unleash praise and gratitude without regard for the taboos we shatter thereby. And we will perform senseless acts of altruistic chutzpah everywhere we go.
DEMAND #15: I demand that if the disinformation specialists who masquerade as communicators intend to keep feeding their addiction to stories of misfortune and breakdown, they must give equal time to those of us who specialize in stories about redemption and renewal. That's all I demand: Give us a mere 50 percent of the airwaves and pages and bandwidths.
© 1995-2013 -- Rob Brezsny. All rights reserved