Adam Gopnik, writing in the New Yorker, has caused a subdued stir with a piece he wrote yesterday in the aftermath of the chaotic Academy Award show on Sunday night in which the announced winner of Best Picture ended up…not being the winner. In a spellbinding flurry of last-minute, post-buzzer dramatic re-engagement of the competition, it turned out another movie won, a lesser known but whole lot more politically palatable movie given the socially and racially conscious vibe of our times.
Gopnik, astounded by the flash turn of events, lamented the spontaneous and “cruel” (to a left-winger) twists of fate which have, among other things, left us with Donald Trump as President of the United States.
In desperate, liberal fashion, Gopnik can only deduce, when the final tally is computed, that this leaves us one option to explain things: we are living in a oft-postulated virtual universe (ala The Matrix) and a glitch in the program has been responsible for the astounding turn of events we’ve witnessed since the November election (as far back as his time line extends).
This wasn’t just a minor kerfuffle. This was a major malfunction. Trump cannot be President—forgetting all the bounds of ideology, no one vaguely like him has ever existed in the long list of Presidents, good, bad, and indifferent, no one remotely as oafish or as crude or as obviously unfit. People don’t say “Grab ’em by the pussy” and get elected President. Can’t happen. In the same way, while there have been Oscar controversies before—tie votes and rejected trophies—never before has there been an occasion when the entirely wrong movie was given the award, the speeches delivered, and then another movie put in its place. That doesn’t happen. Ever.
And so both of these bizarre events put one in mind of a simple but arresting thesis: that we are living in the Matrix, and something has gone wrong with the controllers. This idea was, I’m told, put forward first and most forcibly by the N.Y.U. philosopher David Chalmers: what is happening lately, he says, is support for the hypothesis that we are living in a computer simulation and that something has recently gone haywire within it. The people or machines or aliens who are supposed to be running our lives are having some kind of breakdown. There’s a glitch, and we are in it.
Once this insight is offered, it must be said, everything else begins to fall in order. The recent Super Bowl, for instance. The result, bizarre on the surface—with that unprecedented and impossible comeback complete with razzle-dazzle catches and completely blown coverages and defensive breakdowns—makes no sense at all in the “real” world. Doesn’t happen.
There may be not merely a glitch in the Matrix. There may be a Loki, a prankster, suddenly running it. After all, the same kind of thing seemed to happen on Election Day: the program was all set, and then some mischievous overlord—whether alien or artificial intelligence doesn’t matter—said, “Well, what if he did win? How would they react?”
Gopnik’s conjecture has been the focus of much derision on the part of the Right and Trump supporters.
They liken Gopnik to a desperately hysterical left-winger suffering the schizophrenic unraveling common to liberals who have descended into pathologically despondent states of depression and denial since November. Gopnik’s postulation sounds ludicrous and nonsensical on the surface; his sanity is lazily called to question. “So now that the anti-Trump Left can’t defer to real-life arguments about demographics and historical voting patterns, they now are dabbling in fringe theories which wonder if reality is only a program, that our reality is a virtual creation. Such outlandish thinking is the last refuge of the desperate partisan,” they mock.
But I think Gopnik is on to something. I don’t know exactly what, but there is something. Something. I believe it’s possible to believe this is the case from both sides of the idealogical spectrum.
I was reminded of something I wrote in September, 2015, a couple of months after Donald Trump announced his entry into the Presidential race.
My post was titled “Dead Mexicans is the NLP seed of the moment – who is the Master Programmer?” At that time I was not supporting Donald Trump, nor was i particularly enamored of his looming candidacy. As you can tell from this post, my attitude toward the future President was a tenuous blend of scorn and ridicule. (In fact, it wasn’t until November, later that year, that I haltingly announced my support of his run for President).
In this post I remarked on the fateful absurdities which seemed to spring from nowhere to guide Donald Trump through the confusing haze of his early candidacy.
I even alluded to a “master programmer.” I find I am not so skeptical of Gopnik’s hypothesis. Whereas his “beginning point” is November, mine was June, 2015. Yes, he’s grasping for straws to paint his soothing bullseye of denial around the stray arrow, but I believe he, we, share a befuddled intrigue about that surreal series of events surrounding Trump’s Presidency.
Edited to highlight the pertinent passages from the post:
Strikingly, Trump’s anti-Hispanic crusade (oh, sorry, “anti-illegal alien” crusade) seems blessed with that ethereal cosmic design/impetus that mimics his “NLP of the Masses” in a slightly disconcerting and enigmatic propitious manner. All you wacky cosmic designers are probably busting a load at this candidate’s auspicious karmic timing.
It’s as if he wrote the program.
In fact, I feel as if I am living in a program when it comes to this guy. It’s as if all the coincidental shit that unfolds around his blessed fortune is not truly coincidental because the master program is shaped by design. I am in the position of settling for the oddness of living in a higher being’s virtual reality over the peculiarity of a world that echoes and proliferates the jargon, the narrative, of this master NLP Programmer!
When did the gods give him the authorial pen?
First, the candidate threw his hat in the Presidential ring on June 16, 2015, with a speech that was later described as “rambling” but in which he established his personal, prescient tone by ascribing astronomic levels of crime among the Hispanic immigrant community. Anyone familiar with the Mexican immigrant community realizes that crime is not horribly prevalent – I wrote to this affect on June 27.
So what happened just four days later, on July 1?
Francisco Sanchez happened.
The Mexican illegal in San Francisco, incidentally a renowned “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants, had, it turns out, a spastic attack that cause him to pull the trigger of a gun he found on the wharf, killing a pretty White woman on the city’s Eastern shore. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that could have solidified the Presidential candidate’s histrionic narrative more than this event. It received major coverage in the month after the candidate’s announcement and it cemented his point and gave it all the NLP fuel necessary without him having to lift a finger.
The script was quantum-like in its eerie self-perpetuation and elusive effect.
And on the subject of NLP.
How about what happened in Egypt!?
Our Presidential candidate has vilified Hispanics and roused Americans to gladly submit to the erection of a Kafkaesque border wall. There is a clamor of acceptance. Or there was. The American attention span is a finicky whore. Certain concepts have slipped from our collective mind.
Mexicans are bad, Mexicans are interlopers, Mexicans trespass.. But the news cycle has dimmed. The script needs to be tweaked, sparked. Rejuvenated with language, a semantic heritage needs to be rekindled.
Mexicans in the desert, dead, stopped in their tracks.
What better story?
Egypt’s police and military killed 12 Egyptians and Mexicans and injured 10 when they accidentally shot at a Mexican tourist convoy whilst engaging militants in the country’s western desert, the ministry of interior said on Monday.
“The incident resulted in the death of 12 Mexicans and Egyptians and the injury of 10 others who have been transferred to hospitals,” the ministry said in a statement.
It added that the convoy was made up of four four-wheel drive vehicles and that there would be an investigation into how and why the tourists entered an off-limits area.
Bold notations are my own, for in this semantic rabbit hole, it is important to note that it transmutes an unrelated, but like, story into one that echoes the Presidential candidate’s, and recently, American narrative. The mark of a successful public relations coup is that the public aligns with the spokesperson’s grand agenda.
The public will never consciously associate the Egyptian story with their candidate’s xenophobia, but the NLP seed has been laid bare.
The virtual reality is ascendant.