By Mankh (Walter E. Harris III)
Source: Axis of Logic
“Relax,” said the night man, ”We are programmed to receive. You can check-out any time you like, But you can never leave!”
In Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, people saw a shadow play on the wall and perceived it as reality. Today that Cave has morphed to provide umpteen TV channels and mini-screen gadgets; and the once sanctified living room cave has expanded into a free-range bubble of consciousness – heads bowed before an electronic altar, seemingly oblivious to the outside world.
“The “panopticon” refers to an experimental laboratory of power in which behaviour could be modified, and Foucault viewed the panopticon as a symbol of the disciplinary society of surveillance.”
In Plato’s E-Cave, not only are the people watching a shadow play, they, and the shadows they watch, are being watched.
With a veneer of calm aplomb, the masses communicate 24-7, often in a frenetic urgency of the mundane, hence one interpretation of HyperNormalization. In all the years of overhearing cell-phone conversations in public, I can’t recall one snippet of philosophy or practical advice, rather stuff like, ‘yeah OMG I’ll get the chips!’ and ‘I’ll be there in like 30 seconds!’; if you’re old enough, you’d remember the days when, you got there when you got there! That said, a cell-phone can be a helpful even life-saving device.
The USEmpire election appears to have both proven and disproven the main theory of Adam Curtis’ fascinating new documentary “HyperNormalization.”
“Curtis argues that since the 1970s, governments, financiers, and technological utopians have given up on the complex “real world” and built a simple “fake world” that is run by corporations and kept stable by politicians.”
The California cyber-tech-boom was a love-child of LSD-consciousness that found refuge in E-wizardy all the while looking to escape repressive politics. In his book “2030” Pepe Escobar describes it as: “Digital network capitalism would then shape post-modern globalization, from the New Economy before the end of the millennium to every digital wall to be broken beyond. California cosmology forged our world.”
According to Wikipedia:
“The term “hypernormalisation” is taken from Alexei Yurchak’s 2006 book Everything was Forever, Until it was No More: The Last Soviet Generation, about the paradoxes of life in the Soviet Union during the 20 years before it collapsed. A professor of anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, he argues that everyone knew the system was failing, but as no one could imagine any alternative to the status quo, politicians and citizens were resigned to maintaining a pretence of a functioning society. Over time, this delusion became a self-fulfilling prophecy and the “fakeness” was accepted by everyone as real, an effect which Yurchak termed “hypernormalisation”.”
First off, I see HyperNormalization as a half-truth because while the self-referential, gossipy world is fake, it is a veneer for a very real world of resource extraction and the violence perpetrated to maintain the status quo – and that is what the fakers ignore. As far as the election, many expected the Clinton dynasty to prevail as the corrupt, business as usual lesser of two evils. Breaking snooze: Where’s the headline news that Melania Trump plans to focus on helping women and children?; I saw that mentioned on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, such a perfect antidote for Hillary’s loss and The Donald’s anti-feminist track record.
Even though WikiLeaks revealed the DNC (Democratic National Convention) was rigged against Sanders and leaks of Podesta/Clinton e-mails may have been proverbial straws for Hillary’s campaign camel, the prevailing media sentiment was that she would win – despite the fact that the day before the election some polls indicated a shrinking 3-4 point lead, thus with the typical margin of error, it was, in effect, tied. Yet the mass hyper-surprise!; and all that after the corporate media and comedy shows had simultaneously bashed Trump and given him more air-time than a kite on a windy day – both disdaining and elevating him, a media-mindfuck if ever there was one.
And there was little uproar when Gary Johnson and Jill Stein were excluded from debates and virtually banned from all corporate news, thus proving (if you didn’t know already) that it’s not a truly democratic election. Yet carry on we must and do the best we can with what we got, was the general sentiment, in other words, “the “fakeness” was accepted by everyone as real” aka HyperNormalization.
Yet the non-coastal, poor and middle America White working class (with sides of KKK and minorities!), which reportedly was the key demographic for The Don’s victory, was voting out of bare-bones needs; in effect they were not HyperNormalized. Then again, if Trump, who promises to challenge the status quo, caves-in to Deep State pressure, we will have an answer to an interesting article’s titular question: “President Trump: big liar going to Washington or Tribune of the People?” And if that answer is the former, then the mostly White working poor will also have been duped/HyperNormalized.
You see, it’s hard to know what’s what; which all seems to prove HyperNormalization as the dominant societal charade; which screen is real, if any?
What you perceive is what you get
Another key phrase in Curtis’ documentary is “managed perception” – akin to Chomsky and Herman’s “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media” (1988) which showed how opinions and desensitized agreement to the status quo became a product to be mined and marketed. Witness CBS Chairman Les Moonves’ comment from February 2016:
“Man, who would have expected the ride we’re all having right now? … The money’s rolling in and this is fun. I’ve never seen anything like this, and this [is] going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It’s a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going.”  And, if i might satirically add, like an orangey topped Duracell battery, The Don does seem to have a lot of energy.
HyperNormalization is also akin to Sheldon Wolin’s theory of “inverted totalitarianism,” where the faceless corporate machine wields so much entertainment and bureaucratic power that the people barely notice they are being played hook, line, and sinking feelings.
Some of Curtis’ info, however, is inaccurate or questionable. For examples, he blames the demise of the Occupy Movement on lack of vision and planning yet neglects to mention the FBI coordinated systemic crackdown on the ‘camps’ across the country. 
About Syria he says that President Bashar al-Assad retaliated with a “vengeful fury,” whereas Assad has defended his actions as self-defense for his people; numerous journalists back the Syrian President’s claim.
Post-election, I wonder: Why were so many liberals, lefties, and women more surprised that Trump won than that the DNC/HRC rigged it against Sanders? Were they simply feeling impotent due to HyperNormalized shadow play? Whatever the case, his victory revealed a crack in the smooth screen of HyperNormalization.
According to Patrick Caddell’s survey before the election, the populace seems to be hip to what’s happening:
“Powerful interests from Wall Street banks to corporations, unions and political interest groups have used campaign and lobbying money to rig the system for them. They are looting the national treasury of billions of dollars at the expense of every man, woman and child. AGREE = 81%; DISAGREE = 13%…
“The country is run by an alliance of incumbent politicians, media pundits, lobbyists and other powerful money interests for their own gain at the expense of the American people. AGREE = 87%; DISAGREE = 10%
The real struggle for America is not between Democrats and Republicans but between mainstream American and the ruling political elites. AGREE = 67%; DISAGREE = 24%.” 
This makes it seem it is the ‘how-to bring about change’ that is the deeper conundrum of the HyperNormalized world. Then again, people too often seem to have only their own best interests at heart. Approximately 90% of Americans want their food labeled so as to know if they contain GMOs etc. or not, yet hardly a peep out of anyone that climate change or the “environment” aka Mother Earth & Nature-beings were deliberately excluded as a main topic of the presidential debates. This makes it seem that, in general, Americans want clean food for themselves, they want a clean environment so they can go ‘play in the park’ by themselves. And that brings us to the Great Disconnect and Standing Rock.
Flow like water, be steady as a rock
Part of HyperNormalization is a disconnect from Nature and from being self- and community-guided, and therefore disconnected from the Original Peoples of Turtle Island. While many people are certainly aware of what’s happening with Standing Rock, the corporate media’s lack of attention, let alone empathy, fosters lack of concern for the outcome, lack of being outraged by the violent and racist treatment of those in prayer and peacefully protecting the main source of water for the Standing Rock Sioux and other Natives as well as approximately 17-million people downstream. The real-fake outrage is over the outcome of a fake election.
For many Native reservations where poverty and PTSD are prevalent, the people are anything but HyperNormalized; they are struggling to survive – as with Standing Rock, they are not asking for much: clean water and the space to live their lives with ancient traditions timelessly connected with the land, the water, the stones…
Plato, imagining a prisoner getting outside of the Cave, wrote: “Slowly, his eyes adjust to the light of the sun. First he can only see shadows. Gradually he can see the reflections of people and things in water and then later see the people and things themselves. Eventually, he is able to look at the stars and moon at night until finally he can look upon the sun itself .” 
Standing Rock is bringing people together, raising consciousness at many levels. As one example from a little over a week ago:
“In a “historic” show of interfaith solidarity, 500 clergy members prayed along the banks of North Dakota’s Cannonball River on Thursday where they “bore witness with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation,” which has faced intimidation, violence, and arrests for protecting their sacred land and water supply from the threats of a massive oil pipeline. According to the Episcopal News Service, “The interfaith group spent more than five hours on site, marching, singing hymns, sharing testimony, and calling others to join them in standing with the more than  tribes who have committed their support to the Sioux Nation as they protest the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).” 
This solidarity is in stark contrast with the election where a typically 51/49 system determines an outcome for a society literally programmed for exciting close-call winners – think sporting events,
reality shows, awards ceremonies.
Outside in and inside out
There are many ways to get outside the Cave. One of those is by going within. When I first started to meditate, as is common, I became aware of the constant chatter in my head and soon realized that the mind left unattended will rattle on endlessly. Meditation then showed me that once the chatter quiets, one then has access to other frequencies, other ‘channels’ – what happens then is a very personal matter yet also impersonal because one becomes connected with another source of thinking-seeing-feeling. Chatter, like cell-phones, has it’s usefulness, say, if you forgot to turn the stove off. My point to the personal anecdote is that the corporate media is too much chatter, endlessly looping itself. The gadgets, too, though useful, seem hard-wired for HyperNormalization.
Some of the chatter we must live with, yet by learning to follow our intuitions, listening to and connecting with Nature, talking with elders and little children we can better tune-out from the shadow-play, we can find new and ancient ways for more people – and that includes trees, rivers, etc. – “to look at the stars and moon at night” and “look upon the sun itself.”
“Sin filo ya y derrotada se quejó: Soy más fuerte que ella, pero no le puedo hacer daño y ella a mi, sin pelear. me ha vencido.’”
“Without sharpness and defeated, it [the sword] complained: ‘I am stronger than the water, but I cannot harm her. And the water, without fighting, has conquered me.’” 
1. Panopticism here and here.
4. See here.
5. “Les Moonves: Trump’s run is ‘damn good for CBS’”. See here.
6. “Revealed: how the FBI coordinated the crackdown on Occupy”
7. “Patrick Caddell; The Pollster Who ‘Got it Right’”
8. “Allegory of the Cave”
9. “A Prayer for People and Planet: 500 Clergy Hold ‘Historic’ Mass Gathering for Standing Rock”
10. “Questions & Swords: Folktales of the Zapatista Revolution” as told by Subcomandante Marcos, Cino Puntos Press, El Paso, Texas, 2001, p.82.
To watch “HyperNormalization”, click here.
Mankh (Walter E. Harris III) is an essayist and resident poet on Axis of Logic. In addition to his work as a writer, he is a small press publisher and Turtle Islander. His new book of genre-bending poetic-nonfiction is “Musings With The Golden Sparrow.” You can contact him via his literary website.