Ambrose Bierce, An Inhabitant of Carcosa, Ann Coulter, Capitalism, Carcosa, Cardinal John Henry Newman, Corruption in Religion, Dead can Dance, Death in June, Eco-Apocalypse, Exploitation of Labor, Fascism, Foxconn, Free Market Ideologues, Friedrich Nietzsche, Google, Greenwashing, Matthew McConaughey, Nox Arcana, Oppression through Dependency, Privatization, Public Relations Propaganda, Ron Paul, The Coercive Power of Capitalism, The Evangelical Right, The Federal Reserve, True Detective, UAW, Yellow King
Set in the foreboding shadow of Louisiana’s oil refineries, Matthew McConaughey recounts an ominous story, while the camera lens brings into focus a modern day monster.
Made popular in the current television drama of some note, True Detective is the story of a psychotic serial killer who leaves behind cryptic talismans of occult origin, with unknown meaning. The killer invokes oblique references to the Yellow King, a mythical exiled ruler from the lost city of Carcosa, a dystopian city not unlike the capital of a doomed planet.
Over all the dismal landscape a canopy of low, lead-colored clouds hung like a visible curse. In all this there were a menace and a portent — a hint of evil, an intimation of doom. Bird, beast, or insect there was none. The wind sighed in the bare branches of the dead trees and the gray grass bent to whisper its dread secret to the earth; but no other sound nor motion broke the awful repose of that dismal place. A few blasted trees here and there appeared as leaders in this malevolent conspiracy of silent expectation.
This is also the name of a play nearly 200 years old, never completed except in short story form. It is said if the entire play is read, the reader will go insane. Indeed, the protagonists in the TV show edge closer to insanity as they circle the truth.
We don’t know much about the Yellow King, or Carcosa except that its sky has black stars and two suns, and its dead landscape is ravaged by centuries of evil. Existence in this city is purportedly centered in a fourth dimension, where time is represented as a flat circle, a Nietzscheian reference indicating the inhabitants are doomed to repeating the same events over and over again, unable to change and unable to stop the repetition.
A sudden wind pushed some dry leaves and twigs from the uppermost face of the stone; I saw the low-relief letters of an inscription and bent to read it. God in Heaven! My name in full! — The date of my birth! — The date of my death! A level shaft of light illuminated the whole side of the tree as I sprang to my feet in terror. The sun was rising in the rosy east. I stood between the tree and his broad red disk — no shadow darkened the trunk! A chorus of howling wolves saluted the dawn. I saw them sitting on their haunches, singly and in groups, on the summits of irregular mounds and tumuli filling a half of my desert prospect and extending to the horizon. And then I knew that these were ruins of the ancient and famous city of Carcosa.
There is speculation that Carcosa was never really a place, but a destination for a future of collapse, and the Yellow King was not an exiled ruler, but a disguise- a mask of sorts that once worn, occludes the truth from those who might see.
Once the mask is removed, the truth is laid bare and the viewer is transported to Carcosa. If so, the Yellow King is with us in force today manifest in many forms, most of these designed to disguise the true nature of our world. For we stand to inherit a Carcosa, a towering existential recreation of hell, with circular, unbreakable patterns of dysfunctional behavior.
And the Yellow King walks among us, unabated, spreading misinformation amplified by mass media, advising us, extolling us to ascend to the power of liberty and free markets, get what’s yours while the gettin’ is good, and valorizing those who crush the most souls on the way up.
Free market apologists reign supreme, their carnival barking and incessant media chatter filling the airwaves with blather and bloviation, coiffed and blow dried edifices of carefully constructed perfection lecturing the faithful in the ways of the good and righteous. The downtrodden and sullen worker class unabashedly enamored by the sparkling white teeth and tanning parlor afterglow of the likes of Ann Coulter, with her simmering promise of bleach blond playdates in Republican nirvana.
Give the finger to the underclass, step up to a Brooks Brothers suit with power tie, and the kingdom is yours.
Long considered just an annoyance, at worst, a screeching nails-on-the-blackboard offense endured among polite company as the uniformed contrivances of the political class, merely the monosyllabic utterances of the unenlightened. Which is to say, to be ignored, or in a flight of compassion, to debate the helpless bastards in the hopes that common sense may prevail, and they may see the light, amongst earnest and heartfelt protestation.
Why, forgive them as they know not what they do.
But perhaps they do.
For the Yellow King, with his sycophant protégés donning the mask of illusion lay forth this banter of iniquity, they hold sway as full participants in the court of world opinion. Their voices of reason, their faces of envy, and their politics of grace conspire to deliver a message finely honed through the millennia.
A message warned of for more than 2000 years by an institution not treated well in the Age of Reason. An institution of former glory consumed from the inside out by the very evil it warned of, now one of the largest Capitalist entities on the planet, its crippled and corrupt exoskeleton only occasionally eking out a coherent message, a sporadic, diminutive cry of caution.
Such a cry can be heard by 19th century Cardinal John Henry Newman, in a quote recently featured on Jesse’s blog:
Do you think he is so unskillful in his craft, as to ask you openly and plainly to join him in his warfare against the truth? No; he offers you baits to tempt you. He promises you civil liberty; he promises you equality; he promises you trade and wealth; he promises you a remission of taxes; he promises you reform.
This is the way in which he conceals from you the kind of work to which he is putting you; he tempts you to rail against your rulers and superiors; he does so himself, and induces you to imitate him; or he promises you illumination, he offers you knowledge, science, philosophy, enlargement of mind.
He scoffs at times gone by; he scoffs at every institution which reveres them. He prompts you what to say, and then listens to you, and praises you, and encourages you. He bids you mount aloft. He shows you how to become as gods.
Then he laughs and jokes with you, and gets intimate with you; he takes your hand, and gets his fingers between yours, and grasps them, and then you are his.
J.H.Newman, the Times of Antichrist (Circa 1850)
He makes the disturbing claim that such representations are not mere affectations of the less enlightened, not musings of a political counterfactual, not the flip side of rationed debate, but the deliberate and finely considered dialogue of evil.
The ascendancy of the evangelical right has long mouthed consternation that society is decaying, and claimed vindication when they should be claiming responsibility. Their inversion of right and wrong, their overt sponsorship of capitalist society, in fact their insistence of capitalism as the only Christian means of life moves them well beyond the moniker of fascism firmly into the category of evil incarnate.
For the Yellow King the disguise of illusion is a world of opposites, a world of up really being down, not a matrix style hologram of technology, but a bending of light, an Alice in Wonderland vignette where three lefts make a right and the fun house mirrors portray you to be wealthier than you really are. A world where you argue against your best (or anyone else’s) interests, a world where you degrade, prostrate, and mutilate yourself on the advice of those gleaming faces of prosperity.
In the hope that you may be like them, someday to exchange your station in life, to become that gleaming face and to dispense the wrath of your tortured ascendancy on the filthy groveling masses sullying your shoes as they struggle to feed themselves.
Much is made by the armchair economist and pundit as to causality for our American nightmare as it careens from crisis to crisis. The Yellow King advises this is purely monetary in nature, we have simply oversubscribed our creation in money-capital and succumbed to the avarice of too much government. Why it’s just too much fiat money, and too much government, let’s get back to sound money and free markets, and let her rip.
The narrative takes on fairy tale proportions, indeed, even a child can see through such gas baggery. But a child does not have a vested interest in this belief system, and the rest simply apply religious fervor to the notion that capital just has to succeed, and will accept any preposterous explanation, however dubious, to keep the mask firmly in place.
One of the more hysterical diversions is the demonization of the Federal Reserve System. Made popular by demagogues such as Ron Paul, who stifles his repulsive free market evangelization long enough to divert attention away from this atrocity onto a tangible target that can mobilize the “base”- he and his gullible minions make fast with the scam that all things bad are due to financial manipulation of the monetary system- and nothing more.
With only the occasional, yet telltale reference to the “free market” in his rhetoric, he directs the majority of the pent up frustration of the populace towards an institution that he knows full well will never change or be made obsolete. He knows that the Federal Reserve and the existing monetary system are not only endemic to capitalism- but required for capitalism to function.
As capital’s organic growth becomes more visible, new and ever more insidious ways of extending its reach is realized. In San Francisco, privatized Google buses now make the morning rounds to pick up employees at city municipal bus stops, ostensibly to make a “green” contribution in lower emissions. But The Deceiver’s fingerprints are all over this one as well, green emissions is but a public PR job, the real concept is an extension of the social contract between employer and employee.
By providing privatized mass transportation into a living community that does not require a car for subsistence transportation, Google can add a value dimension for being an employee, and increase dependency on Google for not just wages, but transportation as well.
This extends also to the long provided “loaves and the fishes” style cafeteria, wherein free food (and as much as you want) is given without charge to employees through the company cafeteria, discouraging off campus lunch breaks and building dependency.
Corporate planners know full well that large scale provisioning of food and transportation eventually allows the company to reduce cash compensation, as the use value of their products is directly tied to the cost of labor reproduction.
The next natural steps forthcoming are no doubt company provided housing, “on campus” of course, again to be pitched as some environmentally favorable/humane means of freeing up communities with impacted housing (such as San Francisco) so that “others less fortunate” may procure much needed housing.
All that’s missing is the FoxConn standard issue suicide nets- because you just never know when a “team member” might just want to step out for a smoke- from the ninth floor.
In a most sadistic twist of labor relations, the recent voting down of UAW expansion to VW’s new car plant in Tennessee shows the Yellow King to be in his cups. The usual suspects lock horns to first admonish the workers that any yes vote for unionization will “force” VW to locate subsequent plants out of state in a parade of displeasure. Or so say the Republican lawmakers from this state.
This is an obvious case of the captured legislature doing the bidding of capital. Oddly, VW remains silent, and uncharacteristically encourages the vote.
But the UAW is voted down, the workers are no dummies and are well aware of their predicament, they can see who owns the means of production and the ominously cold winds of a gut hooked Detroit blow even in Tennessee.
The real agenda is soon brought to light, first noticed with VW’s “disappointment” with the lost election, as they had hoped to bring forth their legendary company sponsored “Work Councils”, and required a union vote to legally deploy this tactic.
In a master stroke of labor relations, modern Capital does not fight organzied labor, it simply steps in pro-actively to organize itself. Why leave to chance a critical control level when you can step in and hold the controls yourself? By self-organizing and seeding the work council with specially trained “conflict managers” they can discretize any grievances and head off at the ground floor any dangerous mobilization against management’s interest.
The work councils become modern day privatized versions of the Stasi, with employed informants providing up to the minute labor logistics to the council members. And the beauty of it all, why, it’s all in the name of employee empowerment.
The noose of universal commoditization is tightening, the ligature marks are getting harder to hide as we inch closer to the realm of a dying sun……