Pattern Recognition and the Beautiful Growing Pains of Disillusionment

Disillusionment is the path to realization. As human beings, our minds are defiled with negative thoughts and emotions, delusions, and ignorance. To realize this injures the ego, our sense of narcissism hemorrhages blood the color of conceit and deceit.

Speaking of colors, not only do humans not care for facts and data and much prefer stories in our heads, we like pictures and sound. Social media exacerbate this dependence on memes and videos. So we must adapt, use the media our fellow humans respond to, and change not only the way we write, but our entire presentation, using every and all of these new means at our disposal.

by Stephen Boni edited by O Society July 17, 2019

As a writer, especially one who tries to explore the interplay between culture, sociology, history, ecology, economics, and politics, it can be difficult to focus in on common themes and common threads. In the age of the mobile Internet, where there is so much information to absorb and assimilate, so many more voices than before, I find this to be a genuine challenge.

I experience some of this over-stimulation confusion, then someone throws me a lifeline reminder of narrative: the amazing assassination researcher, author, and screenwriter Lisa Pease. If you haven’t read her new book about the RFK assassination A Lie Too Big to Fail, it comes highly recommended.

Pease says:

“Facts don’t reach people! Stories do. Movies do. TV shows do. If you are a writer, build this into every plot going forward. Not kidding.”

Kim Cobb says:


Slavoj Žižek says:

“We enjoy our ideology. To step out of ideology, it hurts, you must force yourself. Freedom hurts.”

Analysis of “They Live” in the documentary “Pervert’s Guide to Ideology”

This reminder works because fiction is one of the ways in which we make connections between the various insane strands of events and states of being I study to do this amalgam of journalism and essay-ism I purport to do.

Lisa’s highlight of fiction as a potential positive mode of influence brings to mind a quote from the prescient author William Gibson in one of his uncannily prescient novels about corporate espionage in our digital dystopia, called Pattern Recognition:



Indeed, our present is so volatile right now in the United States and the world as a whole because something is in the process of ending and, in large part, that something is the United States’ cohesion as a culture and its dominance over world affairs as a political entity.

And writers who are good at recognizing patterns see it with the most acuity. It’s also the writers who use humor, storytelling, and a natural irreverence who seem to be able to put together these patterns in a way to make us truly feel what they reveal, as opposed to just think dispassionately about what they reveal.

All these thoughts of pattern recognition led me to connect two writers I hadn’t really put together before. One is the veritable count of collapse, engineer, and author Dmitri Orlov. With him, it hardly gets more sardonic and fatalistic. The other is the ever clear-eyed, imaginative, hippie-realist essayist Caitlin Johnstone.

Each of them wrote a piece in the past few weeks which fit like puzzle pieces. Orlov wrote You Are Being Trolled about the global theater that masks the United State’s growing inability to dictate world events. Caitlin (I find it hard not to use her first name because I think of her as a friend, even though I’ve never met her) wrote Jingoistic Fetishization is As American as Bald Eagle McNuggets (snicker!) about the theater Democratic Party politicians engage in at home as they object to Trump’s 4th of July military parade—with full knowledge we’re proudly hypnotized by our own perceived military might and national mythology for decades (if not a century), regardless of party affiliation.

Make the link between these two writers by reading their pieces back to back. It’s an interesting exercise, and a lot of fun to boot. See below.

One of the things that connects these two works is each writer recognizes patterns of behavior and perception on the part of the American public and its political class that make it difficult for us to understand and look squarely at who we’ve become as a culture and—in that willful inability—how hard it is to see the mythology that means so much (too much) to so many of us will not provide protection from the disintegration, which now objectively occurs right before our eyes.


Indeed, letting go of our triumphalist mythology is a way to open up our ability to see the larger reality and begin dealing with it, so we might actually do something with the new reality emerging from the other side of what is now dissolving. There are, after all, new forms to be found amidst entropy. Yet we only can find these forms together, and we only can find them at all if we abandon an exceptionalism, a truly destructive and blinding fiction.

All of which brings us right back to Lisa Pease, who asks us to more honestly fictionalize the reality that lies before us, so we gain the power to imagine our way to somewhere new. In this age of climate breakdown, isn’t it strange and seemingly paradoxical our survival depends not just upon facing hard truths about who we are, but also on our ability to build new and more durable fictions to nourish us through the deprivations to come?

Something to ponder…

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