A Few Bananas Short of a Bunch

A Few Bananas Short of a Bunch

By

Cognitive Dissonance

 

 

“You’ve been living in a dream world, Neo.” – Morpheus

"How did you go (morally) bankrupt?" Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly." ― With abject apologies to Ernest Hemingway and his “The Sun Also Rises”

I reject your reality and substitute my own.” – Adam Savage from Mythbusters

 

 

I have this short-on-specifics, long-on-emotion memory of being young, around 9 or 10 years old, and in grade school during the mid 60’s. I was an introvert and thirsty for any knowledge that could help me better understand what to me was nothing less than insanity.

Even back then I instinctively knew the secret, though no one in their ‘right’ mind believed me when I voiced my concern. I was living in an insane asylum, populated by humans reasonably well adapted to close quarters and authoritarian rule. At least that’s the way it was in my house and just about every other home within walking distance.

Of course, the grand global collective, as diverse and culturally mixed as it claimed to be, pretty much followed similar directives. It did then, and in fact still does today. While it may be carefully concealed behind grand consensual governing concepts such as parliamentary rule, democracy or a representative republic, they couldn’t fool me. Whether by closed fist or pointed gun, it was pretty obvious to me the authoritarian few always ruled over the collective many.

I gravitated towards history (which at the time I believed was factual) and dove straight into the deep end head first. The good news was I wasn’t fully and properly indoctrinated yet, so there was a chance my young mind would survive somewhat intact now that some self-awareness was beginning to peek through.

The bad news was I had no effective way to filter out the propaganda, lies and distortions. One simply cannot fully discern truth without recognizing the lie for what it is and vice versa. It’s the contrast between the two that fully illuminates both.

A child’s mind has no more effective defense against deliberate and focused indoctrination than a child’s body has against a vicious rip tide. Both require treading water until either a path to shore materializes or exhaustion ends the struggle. Fully formed adults rarely possess the courage and perseverance to buck the trend and push back against the herd. What chance does a child have with far less experience and cognitive tools to work with?

Because my self-directed course of study was coloring way too far outside the lines to discuss openly and honestly with family or teachers, out of necessity I was a study group of one, the only one I could trust. Youthful innocence and naivete are both wonderful cognitive shields and deadly ankle weights. Without a buddy system for mutual support, it’s clear I wasn’t going to tread water for long.

I lived in a small southern New England town about halfway between the New York Yankees and the Boston Patriots, as they were then known. Roman Catholic theology was the general rule of the land, a time when the Lord’s word had equal or more weight than the ruling central government in DC. Or at least that’s what I was taught. It wasn’t just government mandated conditioning that was infiltrating my mind.

In my world history class, we were studying World War Two in general and Germany, Italy and Japan in particular, the so-called bad guys of that era. Let’s just say the text was not sympathetic to the other team and leave it at that. Any enemy of the Empire, vanquished and not yet vanquished, was presented to me as obviously a personal enemy of mine. The same ideological conditioning was used with presently favored friends of the Imperial Ideology. A friend of the Empire was most certainly a friend of mine.

While I mounted a mostly feeble and ineffective resistance to the rote training, exactly what portion of the firehose conditioning discharge do I not swallow? How do I not swallow? Resistance is, and was, futile without significant and continuous outside assistance, a crucial element I sadly lacked. My capitulation was not that far off.

As part of my personal exploration, I had already borrowed Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ from the library (to this day I wonder why it was even in the elementary school library to begin with) and was ready to ask a few obvious-to-me questions.

That did not go over very well. Not well at all, in fact.

Until recently, there’s been one question about that period of time (the late 30’s, not the mid 60’s) that I never found a satisfactory answer for. How could all those people, average everyday people, not see how nonsensical and even insane things were becoming? From a big picture point of view, it was achingly obvious the planet had gone completely nuts and was headed towards self-immolation. The Planet of the Apes was quickly spiraling out of control.

I speak of all competing factions in that soon-to-be brutal and bloody conflict, including ‘We the People’. Notice how I didn’t conflate the US government with average Jane and Joe. The government, any government, is ultimately a fictitious entity supported, willingly or not, by the people. Jane and Joe, along with you and me, are ‘the people’.

Anything done in our name implies some, even minimal, personal responsibility. While I may not be personally bombing various other civilizations back into the stone age, washing my hands of any personal responsibility is a deliberately conditioned-from-birth reflex that enables the Empire to continue with its cold-blooded murder while I reap some of the benefits of being a citizen of the Imperium.

Expert behavioral conditioning is not only designed to be easily swallowed, but any contrary information must be immediately vomited up, spat upon and thoroughly rejected. Experiencing a cognitive dissonance can be emotionally disturbing and quite unsettling, compelling most people to do just about anything to make the pain go away. Triggering, combined with righteous indignation, usually fits the bill.

So why did we the people, both back during the late 1930’s as well as over the last 10 to 15 years, not see or do anything about the abject insanity quickly rising amongst themselves?

The answer, of course, is that we live in an insane asylum. Which by extension, means we are all verifiably insane. Assuming, of course, we could actually find a non-human expert (because how does an insane human correctly identify sanity) to conduct a study (government funded, of course) that would verify the inevitable findings as true and proper.

As previously noted, the issue back then was I had not yet been fully indoctrinated into the funny farm; therefore, I still retained some capacity to think clearly without the burden of full conditioning. This branded me as a deviant first class, a non-conforming irritant who refused to fully cooperate with the conditioning regime.

On a near weekly basis, I was a carrier pigeon for notes sent back home from indignant propagandists complaining to my keepers about my lack of servile prostration. I wasn’t ‘bad’ per se, just non-compliant. I asked awkward questions about delicate subjects polite society had decided weren’t discussed out in the open in our out-loud voice…and most certainly not from the mouth of babes.

I was the square peg who resisted conforming to the round holes everyone else insisted was true, correct and ‘normal’. While at the time I could not adequately explain what was wrong with ‘normal’, like former United States Supreme Court Justice Potter and pornography, I knew abnormal when I saw it. And it was everywhere.

Oh sure, by that age I definitely wore the burgeoning tramp stamp of Empire, enough at least to navigate and assimilate to some degree among the other inmates. But I still retained some unconstrained curiosity and desire to question fundamental assumptions and precepts. There were still a few more years before high school, where the final ‘sentient’ forming and molding would take place.

I failed to discover the answer to my question (essentially why were so many unaware of their own insanity) because I failed to understand the premise of my own question, completely understandable since I was already on the fast track to Imperial insanity. The final ingredient to the secret sauce is context and empathy, both directly derived from actual lived experience.

An understanding of my innate inner knowing was much more limited back then, mostly because I had begun to embrace the collective insanity as true and proper if for no other reason than to survive childhood in relative peace. Not only was my intellectual database small back then, but it was unregulated by experience in the form of empathy and perspective.

That’s what an education is supposed to instill in us; empathy and perspective. Primarily because the young lack direct lived experience, a proper education is supposed to partially fill that vacuum. At least that’s the theory anyway. In practice, our birth ignorance is viciously and ruthlessly exploited by those who cannot be questioned or named in order to create obedient cognitive cogs and compliant cannon fodder.

Just because the person administering the medicine might be pleasant and helpful doesn’t mean the medicine isn’t poison in disguise. Anyone who’s undergone chemotherapy and survived understands that concept all too well.

The bottom line is any Empire, any culture, any collective will create a shared reality by first creating narrative. And the primary directive of any narrative is to be self-affirming, at least to those within its embrace. Amateurs create narrative and shove it down our throats. Experts create narrative so compelling, interlocked and seemingly self-supporting, that we not only embrace it but ask for more.

Hence my interest in reading about how Hitler’s handlers massaged the people’s narrative. I wanted to know what they were told that compelled them to reject the obvious in favor of the insane. The thing about information warfare, aka propaganda, is the really good stuff, while walking, talking and acting like obvious propaganda to an outsider, is accepted as pretty much the truth (more or less) by the target.

My truth, that is. Your truth has a slightly different ingredient list and cooking instructions because both you and I ‘believe’ most, if not all, of our worldview is originally conceived. We ‘believe’ we are masters of our own unique universe and therefore act accordingly, meaning shockingly oblivious to any and all outside manipulation. Most importantly, it enables us to remain more or less in lockstep with other properly conditioned ideologues within our select group.

From the perspective of properly conditioned people, the only question that really counts is whether others are part of our ideological tribe or not. Either my cognitive gear set properly meshes with yours or it does not. When resources are plentiful, we collectively and individually can afford to be tolerant of deviants. When not, we are not. Guess which direction we’re headed these days.

In our current form and within the present collective reality, we are fully and properly conditioned to live in someone else’s reality. We no longer know how to create our own because our capacity to imagine, let alone perceive or manifest an alternative reality construct, is both mostly missing and actively suppressed.

Dangerously deviant thought will not be tolerated in any way, shape or form. Because reality flows from thought and belief (and not the other way around) deviant thought must be suppressed at all costs in order for an alternative consensus realty to be reliably groomed and directed.

Anything non-natural (meaning created by man’s hand) must first originate as an abstract thought and concept. Only then can it be fashioned by, and occasionally from, sinew and bone. I suspect I could even make a credible argument that all reality, natural or not, is a creation of man’s essential inner knowing and power.

I am reminded of Roger Banister, the first to run the four-minute mile. Once others realized the perceived impossibility of running a sub four-minute mile was actually quite possible, the extraordinary became ordinary and a new minimum standard was set. Perceived and lived reality is continuously created and altered by small nudges from you and me, the collective, and occasional large pushes by the grand masters.

Our cultural conditioning system goes so much deeper than ‘just’ government schools, social media, instant messaging and the 24/7/365 ‘news’ cycle. It’s composed of deeply embedded beliefs considered fundamental and static, handed down from generation to generation. After hundreds of iterations, and thousands of years of constant social, intellectual, political and religious conditioning, how could the end product be anything other than completely bonkers.

We no longer know what it is to be ‘human’ because there are so few living examples to interrogate, emulate and propagate. We are social creatures and much of our early learning is absorbed thru non-verbal communication often passively received. Suppress or remove a cultures central intellectual and moral influencers, apply stress and disorder, then shake vigorously, and society soon regresses to base instinct and emotion.

Sound familiar? Hell, my two cats are more intelligent, curious, compassionate and civilized than a significant slice of human beings these days.

I know we all wish to believe we broke thru the shell of our egg and progressed to adulthood fully charged, informed and functional. That we are all a product of hard work, self-actuation and perseverance established almost exclusively by our own ‘self’. But this is a self-deception of the highest order, desperately propagated by ourselves and like minded others in order not to upset our foundational conditioning.

In an insane world, structured order and predictability are critical to maintaining order among the unstable. Despite our lunacy, we can still maintain a semblance of internal cognitive order if we are provided plausible deniability we are insane. Introduce instability and the obvious becomes unmistakable. Chaos ensues.

We give far too little credit to our fundamental programming, our wetware BIOS or basic input/output system, which underlies and supports everything from basic human interaction to complex thought processes aka reality creation.

What comes first, the narrative or the fully formed self? In my opinion, the answer is obvious and self-evident. Humans are born into a mature collective narrative and are conditioned to conform and comply. To think there is no effect at all on us, or worse just a small influence, is to play directly into the hands of the master manipulators.

This all reminds me of a joke some people know to be true for others, but not for themselves, proving without a doubt how deeply immersed we are within the all-encompassing mind meme. It goes something like this.

Old man minnow crosses paths with two young self-absorbed minnows and booms a friendly greeting. “Good morning lads. The water is absolutely gorgeous today.”

The two youngsters, cocksure and full of themselves, ignore the old man as they pass, then hurl insults at his back. Once a decent interval has passed and the old man is no longer within ear shot, the younger minnow turns to his friend and asks “What’s water”?

Indeed, “what’s water” is the fundamental exploration we should all be pursuing. Until we not only ask the question, but thoroughly examine it for all its nuances and undertones, we remain just a few bananas short of a bunch. There’s no time to waste my friend. Bananas have a shockingly short shelf life, as do we mere humans.

 

Cognitive Dissonance

05-31-2021

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