Riffing Orwell – Theaters War, Absurd, Educational, and Otherwise





George Orwell prophesied much of the current doublespeak with his phrases such as: “war is peace.” Nobel Peace Prize winning president Obama, currently commander-in-chiefing of war in six so-called theaters — Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia — fits the bill, or more so runs up the bill, as a look at the USE (United States Empire) debt will show. To hint at the absurdity, a recent article states, “So America owes foreigners about $4.5 trillion in debt. But America owes America $9.8 trillion.”1
What would help now are more such Orwellian phrases that raise people’s awareness. In war, like a Hollywood movie, too much expensive stuff and too many precious people get blown to smithereens. While a real war’s chaos and brutality is seemingly obvious, under the approved framework labeled “theater of war” it seems that for many it’s all just part of the show, part of the deal. But who’s directing the show, and who makes the deals? And why so much numbness about it all? War Is Orderly Terrorism.

Monsanto and Dow Chemical, the primary makers of Vietnam-era Agent Orange,2 are currently big players in the world food market. Also, Monsanto was recently granted USDA deregulation for Kentucky bluegrass seed.3 Pesticides And GMOs Come From Warfare Mentality. The top ten agrochemical companies, according to 2009 stats, are: Bayer, Syngenta, BASF, Dow AgroSciences, Monsanto, DuPont, Makhteshim Agan, Nufarm, Sumitomo, Arysta Lifescience.4


Choice Words from Confucius


So often when reading or viewing news one can tell that it is hearsay. Words like “alleged,” “suspected,” and unnamed “sources” follow banner headlines leading many to believe that so-and-so did the deed, when in fact there has been no proof. And frankly, that shit has worked to the Nth degree; witness the Occupation of Iraq based on false premises, with an estimated one million or more Iraqis and over 4,000 Americans killed, and many more wounded.5 Add to that the antiquities and farmlands destroyed, plus various sects pitted against each other and it’s a genocidal/civil war tragedy . . . based on inconclusive evidence.

The words that get used and misused are seemingly as powerful as they were about 2,500 years ago when Confucius put forth zhengming, the Rectification or Correction of Names, as a means to maintain social order:


“If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.”.6


It’s time to get past what’s undone and get some clarity for the helplessly confused.

The Long and the Short of It


In many ways The Powers That Be (or applying the Confucian rectifcation, The Powers That Do) consistently refuse to change. A little study of American Indian history, or more accurately Euro-American mistreatment of Natives and Indigenous history, reveals that the modern corporate media apparatus is basically a technological tool assisting a deeper pathology that essentially employs a systemic divide-and-conquer modus operandi.

One of the antidotes to divide-and-conquer is holism, from the Greek wordhólos. Aristotle summed up holism nicely: “The whole is more than the sum of its parts.” Holistic health takes into account that body, mind, and spirit are all connected but have different vibrational levels, the spiritual being the highest level. A holistic business, for example, would look at the effects of one’s product, where the supplies come from, and the people involved, rather than just the bottom, physical, line. Corporations like Monsanto and the others mentioned previously would do the planet and us all a favor if they applied holism.

The word “holocaust” is from the Greek hólos, “whole” and kaustós,“burnt.” Agent Orange certainly burned: “5 million acres of forests defoliated. 500,000 acres of cropland destroyed,”7 and “Vietnam estimates 400,000 people were killed or maimed by the defoliants, 500,000 children have been born with defects from retardation to spina bifida and a further two million people have suffered cancers or other illnesses. Yet they have received no compensation from those who produced the chemicals and those who made them a weapon of war.”8 And those are some of the people now producing food?!

The ones who continue to promote nuclear energy after the Fukushima disaster and continue to promote oil dependency after the BP disaster are just plain insane and greedy, or in more compassionate metaphorical language, have not yet expanded their consciousness, have not yet allowed for a shaft of light to penetrate their realms of darkness, nor have they smelled the roses.

Global Corporate Empire’s short-sighted view goes for the big bucks and as of late aims to convince everyone that the War on Terror (or War Of Terror, depending on which side of the Confucian aisle you sit) is a necessary evil, whereas the long-range holistic view reveals that these wars are a continuation (at least from the Indigenous perspective of 500-plus years of lies and broken treaties) of an effort to colonize people and resources. But at least some silver lining headlines get through: “Obama Administration Relents and Grants Visa to Leading Afghan Antiwar Campaigner Malalai Joya for U.S. Trip.”9


While naming generations after or during the fact — baby boomers, Generation X, Y or Millennials — may help us identify societal patterns of behavior, the Iroquois, also known as the Hau de no sau nee or “People of the Longhouse,” remind us of the Seventh Generation, meaning that one must consider how one’s actions today will affect people in the future.



“It means the seeing place. It is the place people come to see the truth about life and the social situation.” – Stella Adler


The word Theatre (or Theater) comes from the Greek théatron, fromtheáomai – to look on, view, behold, contemplate (often used of public shows), to gaze at a spectacle; “spectators of war,” a phrase from Herodotus, seems to indicate where the phrase “theater of war” derived from.


Thus, according to the ancient Greeks, theater provides a forum from which to learn and educate, as well as entertain ourselves. Through archetypal dramas and tragedies we learn of our potential weaknesses, of how to recognize negative and pathologial behaviors, and how to be emotionally moved. With comedies we remember to appreciate our human foibles and to laugh at ourselves; the Three Stooges have taught this writer to think twice while making repairs!


Salvador Dalí

But theater has often morphed and leaned away from the educational or life-mirror effect. Spectacles from the fading Roman Empire, known as Bread and Circuses, aimed to distract people from reality. Some of today’s spectacles feature the gratuitous violence of movie theater and TV films, wild special effects, and breaking news about nothing significant, such as a famous person deboarding a plane.

Sporting events and musical concerts are also a kind of theater, and it’s helpful to remember that advertising, where paid actors pitch products, is a kind of schlock theater. On the darker (though also economically beneficial) side, the run-up to the Occupation of Iraq was a mainstream media, government approved, propagandic, video-game, Hollywood, theatrical extravaganza.

That the movie theater is one of the most dominant forms of modern mass persuasion is evident; how often on TV news have you heard someone describing a strangely horrific real life scene and saying, “It was surreal. It was like a movie.” Whether in a crowd, at home, or in the palm of one’s hand, in this world of many screens, as a species “We like to watch,” to paraphrase Chauncey Gardner in the film Being There.



Perhaps the best definition of much of what goes on in today’s world, as well as what passes for news, comes from France in the late 1940s: Théâtre de l’Absurde or Theater of the Absurd. Originally influenced by existentialism, today’s real world Theater of the Absurd can be about almost anything. As example, Julie Bass of Oak Park, Michigan, was recently charged with a misdemeanor for refusing to remove a vegetable garden from her front yard.10




Theatre of the Absurd (Painting: Mike Rowley)


Seeing Is Not Always Believing


“You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear.” – Sherlock Holmes

How much one truly learns from what one sees depends on a variety of factors. One thing is clear though: with so many images coming at us it takes discipline to tune-out the often fast-paced technological barrage . . . and tune-in to one’s own head, and other holistic parts.

The power of image and of vision are highly underestimated. Many people’s personal insecurities are due to poor self-image. And whether through dreams, meditation, or simply gazing at the trees or a wall, any effort to see into the reality of existence — to see one’s self and the world in a better way, or discern what the real problems are and how to solve them — is a help.

At its best, theater changes our view of the world and our very selves for the better. At its worst, it deceives us into believing that an illusion is reality. Learning to know the difference is where the work is, and yes, being a spectator requires some effort.

As Walt Whitman wrote in his epic poem, “Song of Myself”:




You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through
the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.




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. You can contact him via his literary website.

Theaters War, Absurd, Educational, and Otherwise | Global Empire |Axisoflogic.com.

Categories: A 1984-type life today, mental poverty

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