Saturday, July 27, 2013

Hypothesis: The Cultural Amygdala - 2

"Thank you for killing us."
In this series we are thinking about the possibility that the culture, society, or nation that we live in can result in the development of a cognitive structure attached to the physical amygdala, which we hypothesize as "The Cultural Amygdala."

In today's post we will use the recently released documentary "The Act of Killing" (see video below) to illustrate some of the dynamics and functionality of that hypothetical cultural amygdala.

But first, let's set the stage.

The medical doctors who practiced medicine about a century ago had no idea that some germs, and/or the toxins those germs produced, were in any way related to health or disease in any medical way that they could professionally deal with (What Is Pseudo Science?).

Like those medical doctors of about a century ago, by and large the politicians and other officials who practice government today still have a similar concept when it comes to the toxins of power (The Germ Theory - of Government).

They tend to think that they are at the apex of human reasoning, intellect, creativity, culture, and morality; that they therefore exist in exceptional circumstances, and that their culture is the best on Earth (Exceptionalism In A Nutshell).

What could go wrong?

All of which informs their institutionalized concept of the act of killing:
The Act of Killing focuses on Anwar Congo, one of the self-proclaimed "gangsters" who executed over a million suspected Communists and ethnic Chinese in Indonesia during the bloodbath of 1965-66. Congo, much like his fellow executioners that he remains friends with, has yet to face prosecution for the war crimes he committed as a younger man and lives as a national hero.

Congo is a man who appears to live in an eternal cinematic fantasy. He's always dressed sharp—inspired by his Hollywood heroes John Wayne, Marlon Brando, and Elvis Presley. What exactly inspired him to murder a thousand people is never quite explained. The only slight ever mentioned that he takes from the communists was their desire to block screenings of his beloved American films. Tapping into this love of cinema, Oppenheimer offers him the opportunity to tell his story by making a dramatic film in which he's the star of his own story.

This does not end up being The Act of Killing itself, but a meta film-within-a-film that allows Congo to tell his own story as he chooses to see it, guts and all. He casts his own friends, adds a romantic subplot where one of his friends dresses in drag, and even has musical finale at the foot of a waterfall where his own victims thank him for murdering [them]. But despite all of these flourishes, he manages to stay true to the story in the recreation of his preferred method of execution.

Demonstrating to Oppenheimer's documentary crew how he strangles his victims with wire, he boasts that he learned it from American gangster films.
(A History of Violence, emphasis added). While reading that quote, including the "thank you for murdering us" fantasy, I saw that the American military notion of "destroying them in order to save them" is of the same cognitive circuits in the cultural amygdala.

Then as a follow up, my brain conjured up a quote from a 1944 book, a quote which touches upon historical episodes of massive-scale killing events.

That book quote concerns de facto human sacrifice to deities as massive-scale cultural events:
The enemy aggressor is always pursuing a course of larceny, murder, rapine and barbarism. We are always moving forward with high mission, a destiny imposed by the Deity to regenerate our victims, while incidentally capturing their markets; to civilise savage and senile and paranoid peoples, while blundering accidentally into their oil wells.
(As We Go Marching, by John T. Flynn, 1944, page 222, emphasis added). Flynn was speaking of the growing American culture of war he detected (On The Origin of The Bully Religion - 2).

An American culture of war which Anwar Congo excitedly says he draws upon.

But Anwar Congo, since his culture glorifies him as a national hero for what he did, has some circuits in his cultural amygdala that self-glorify him to the point that he fantasizes that those massive numbers of people whom he murdered actually thank him for murdering them.

The American cultural amygdala does not quite go so far, if the example of Dick Cheney bragging publicly about torture is any indicator.

Dick Cheney did not thereby attain national hero status, because the culture at large has not yet degenerated to that point.

In fact Dick Cheney was seen as a villain in the eyes of most of the American public who give him much of a thought.

Even Dick Cheney's protégé, Bush II, is likewise not accepted as a national hero in the eyes of the general American culture (He Whose Name Cannot Be Spoken).

The American cultural amygdala is evolving in that direction however.

All of the ingredients are in place and have been proliferating within the government subculture for a long time, hidden from public view as if a coup had taken place  (see Stockholm Syndrome on Steroids? - 2, A Tale of Coup Cities - 4, and Myth Addiction Is Establishment's LSD - 3).

As predicted in the late 1700's, by a statesman who helped to establish the Constitution of the United States of America, the germs of war and/or their associated toxins develop "the germ of every other" threat to society (The Greatest Source Of Power Toxins?).

Let's focus on that threat to society by noting that the religious fervor, which Anwar Congo exhibits, is deeply embedded in the subculture of the vast American military:
In 2011 the Army faced public scrutiny after the exposition of once mandatory "Spiritual Fitness" testing which assessed the resiliency of soldiers on such qualitative measures as frequency of prayer or attendance of religious services. When a soldier failed this religious test they were denigrated with the following:
Spiritual fitness may be an area of difficulty... You may lack a sense of meaning and purpose in your life. At times, it is hard for you to make sense of what is happening to you and to others around you. You may not feel connected to something larger than yourself. You may question your beliefs, principles and values... Improving your spiritual fitness should be an important goal.
Of course, no military organization is content with a tongue lashing as a response to failing a mandatory test. For the test to have been worth anything, Army leadership determined remedial training in the form of training modules and even the requirement to visit with chaplains for religious counseling was appropriate.
(Marine Corps Declares 'Lack of Spiritual Faith' = Unstable). One would not normally expect the killing machine called the Marine Corps to go all Church Lady on them, then have a "church chat" with any soldier who misses Sunday School.

But the spirituality of killing machines we now call "the military" has been a strange mystery down through the history of civilization, and it is no different for modern American culture:
This is the sixth post in a subject matter series concerning what is both a deep as well as a wide subject of considerable general historical mystery, which we call MOMCOM.

The last episode concerned a timely review of one aspect of MOMCOM, detailed in the book "Dismantling The Empire."

Today's post will do the same using a timely review of the book "The Spiritual-Industrial Complex" for reference purposes, however, I do suggest that you read the two complimentary Dredd Blog series: "Bully Worship: The Universal Religion" as well as "On The Origin of The Bully Religion."

The reason for considering all of them is that this subject necessitates the development of a broad based understanding of U.S. History, to countermand years of broad based propaganda.
(The Virgin MOMCOM - 6). That quote from Dredd Blog links to a series that points out how George Orwell coined the phrase "The Bully Religion", which makes it an Orwellian concept, but which also links the greatest source of the toxins of power to a particular religion.

A particular ancient religion that camouflages itself so well that the vast majority in any given culture cannot detect the camouflage (On The Origin of The Bully Religion).

The U.S. Congress, the U.S. Courts, and the Executive Branch of the U.S.A. are following the lead of the military by glorifying and enabling them in their continuing atrocities (see the two Dredd Blog series: The Dogma of The High Priest In Chief and The Government of MOMCOM: Wartocracy).

Visionaries whom we can call "cultural doctors", who have been aware enough to detect the toxins of power once those toxins seriously infect the cultural amygdala, have lovingly given us various diagnostic tools:
"It is forbidden to kill therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets." -Voltaire
Make no mistake, there is an epidemic spreading the toxins of power, so it is imperative that we develop a vaccime (see the Dredd Blog series The Germ Theory - of Government).

We will expand upon the cultural amygdala hypothesis in future posts.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

The Act of Killing - trailer: