Friday, April 20, 2007

The Parallax View

The American Heritage Dictionary defines parallax as “An apparent change in the direction of an object, caused by a change in observational position that provides a new line of sight.” In The Parallax View, Warren Beatty plays a reporter who investigates the assassination of a Bobby Kennedy-type political candidate after witnesses to the shooting-including Beatty's girlfriend-start turning up dead. Beatty infiltrates a corporate-run assassination team and finds evidence of a far-reaching conspiracy. Meanwhile, of course, the hit has been pinned on a deranged patsy for easy public consumption. Well, needless to say, things don’t turn out too well for Warren.

Our species’ proclivity for unsolved assassinations and dirty tricks has instilled in me the habit of taking second and third looks at various newsworthy events, such as Monday’s massacre at Virginia Tech. In other words, I try to find the parallax view. Sometimes there is no parallax view, meaning, sometimes things are just as they appear and events are being reported correctly by the M$M. Or, as Freud put it, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” But other times, taking the parallax view produces inconvenient questions.

There are various arcs of consciousness, which, except for the occasional intersection, coexist unnoticed by one another. The average person’s arc of consciousness consists of friends, family, roommates, jobs, etc. It progresses gradually over a lifetime more or less unhindered. Occasionally, however, this arc of consciousness is pierced by another in the form of some earth-shattering event, like an assassination or act of terror. After a while, things settle down and the average person’s arc of consciousness returns to normal. The important thing to remember, though, is that after things settle down, the arc of consciousness that produced the earth-shattering event continues at its own gradual pace. Looked at properly, things like the Kennedy and King assassinations, Watergate, Iran Contra, the September 11th Attacks, are all part of the same arc of consciousness, not the isolated incidents that the public perceives them as.

Well, when you get in the habit of looking for the parallax view—that is, when you accept the fact of multiple arcs of consciousness—two things can happen. One is that you start second- and third-guessing everything, even your own perception of reality, and you inch closer and closer to insanity. The other is that you find tiny tidbits of affirmation from seemingly rational individuals who have come to the same conclusions that you have. In this case, you experience a revelation about how truly fucked up the world is and you…inch closer and closer to insanity.

Well, as Hawkeye put it, going crazy is a sane reaction to an insane world.

1 comment:

Pissedoffcabbie said...

Excellent post.

The problem with gaining the paralax view is that you can't come back to the old view where everybody else is.
It almost becomes solipsistic.

Everybody's gone to the movies.