It’s the Dismal Tide. It’s Not the One Thing.
The other evening I amused myself by watching, for the fourth time at least, “No Country for Old Men”, a movie adapted from a novel by the same name and produced by the Cohen brothers. Though I’m not certain ‘amused’ is the proper term for what I actually experience when viewing the carnage from all corners of the universe as depicted in this movie. Each time I enter the realm of this ‘fiction’ something different within me is deeply disturbed.
When I was a young man I knew someone quite similar to the character Anton Chigurh, an emotionless, compassionless killing machine. The person I knew frightened the piss out of me every time I interacted with him simply because I never knew what the hell he would do next, though I always knew what he was perfectly capable of doing next if his deranged spirit so moved him.
The person I knew was insane by any imaginable definition of the word.
And if you think about it, it is a frightening experience, at least initially, to be physically around someone who shows the classic signs of mental illness. Or at least the traditional signs of insanity as depicted by television or movie insane asylums. You know; violent outbursts, nonsensical speech and various other anti-social behaviors.
Upon careful consideration, what is actually frightening is our fear the other person will violate social norms and do just about anything, up to and including physically harming us. Whether we are shopping for groceries or sitting in our chair, the last thing we expect to happen is to be assaulted and/or battered where we stand….or sit as the case may be. For the most part we pass through life unmolested because of social norms, which teach us to respect others as we would like to be respected. Or at the least to keep our hands in our pockets, our shoes on our feet and all other blunt objects to our self.
But I also identify with the Country Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, who finds himself increasingly immersed in a world far removed from when and where he grew up, or even what he expects to experience when he walks out the front door each morning. Alas, expectations are the root of most of our disappointment and disillusionment in life.
Today you might describe Sheriff Bell as old school, where honor and dignity were expected of each other and, most importantly, of ourselves. Where business deals were agreed upon with a hand shake and a mutual understanding if you mess with one of the community, you mess with the entirety of the community. There was a reason they were called ‘gentlemen’ and it was not because of soft hands or weak minds.
But Sheriff Bell finds himself increasingly outmatched when facing his opponents. Where once the .45 strapped to his hip might have been the most powerful weapon in the room, nowadays (1980 in the movie, 2016 today) a .45’s not much more effective than bringing a pea shooter to a gun fight. Nor does his quiet demeanor and sensible approach as a gentleman compare favorably with obscene amounts of money, drugs, brute force and psychopathic killers.
And then there is Llewelyn Moss, the bad good guy (or maybe the good bad guy) who stumbles upon a jackpot while out hunting on foot one fine Texas morning, a drug deal gone sour for all parties involved. Wisely choosing the suitcase with $2 million over the pickup truck full of drugs, Moss walks away from the mortally wounded sole survivor, leaving him begging for water.
The question rarely is if we are whores, but what's our price to consumate the act. I'm cartain Moss thought himself a good and moral man….and did all the way to the end.
Ah, but unfortunately Moss is also a gentleman, or at least someone with compassion for a fellow human being slowly bleeding out while dying of thirst. Against his better judgment, but fully aware of the danger he brings upon himself (“I'm fixin' to do something dumber than hell, but I'm going anyways.”) long after darkness has fallen he returns to the scene of the crime, rifle in one hand and a gallon of agua in the other. There he finds his rescue now expired and himself in deep trouble when cohorts of the dead arrive looking for their missing brethren…and the money of course.
For Llewelyn Moss, the only question remaining is how to survive a psychopath intent on killing you when his rules are diametrically opposed to yours. And make no mistake about it; Anton Chigurh has his own set of rules to live by. The problem is they tend to be a bit self centered and most certainly antisocial. And the answer to the question is you don’t.
In the immortal words of Anton Chigurh, spoken to Carson Wells as he holds the bounty hunter at gunpoint, “If the rule you followed brought you to this, what use was the rule?”
Good question Anton, very good question.
We are creatures of habit, if not by nature than by nurture. We seek predictability, uniformity and conformity, both in the people we keep, the food we eat and the politics we consume. When things are not as expected, we become agitated, alert to danger, and disorientated in time and space.
For example, when informed that all is not as it appears regarding the attacks of September 11, 2001, many will exclaim “What do you mean 9/11 was a false flag attack? I thought it was the Muslims hating our freedom?” This is the nurture part of our programming through skillful use of domestic shock and awe. Minor programming changes adhere to, expand upon and support previous programming. Major programming changes reset some or all of our previous programming by introducing a new social meme into our worldview.
The key to massive social engineering is to reset the mind meme, then return ‘We the People” as quickly as possible to our regularly scheduled programming, now permanently altered to suit a purpose often diametrically opposed to our very own best interest.
This is precisely why George W Bush was on TV a few weeks after 9/11 imploring everyone to do what Americans do best and hit the malls, restaurants and department stores. In other words, to shop until you drop. The business of America is to exploit, manipulate and profit from the slave class, more accurately described as indentured servants aka the middle class. Full speed ahead and damn the make believe Muslims.
In our (at times) desperate effort to achieve insight into the future, even if that future is little more than a few seconds or minutes away (and all in service to predictability and normalcy) we adhere to rules and regulations. And here is exposed our Achilles Heel, for while the sociopaths and psychopaths also adhere to rules, they are not the rules mother taught us using hugs and kisses, time out in the corner and liberal use of the fanny paddle.
They are not the rules of the herd, but that of the predator.
Shooting fish in a barrel comes to mind when considering how easy the pickings are for predators when hunting prey this closely corralled and properly programmed. Even the experienced hunter and war savvy Moss is severely self constrained when it comes to the rules he must, or chooses, to obey and those he chooses to ignore. Experience and intelligence is no match for ruthlessness and evil.
Now, if we were speaking about a few maniacs here and there……well……that’s been the norm for thousands of years. As destructive as a psychopath may be, ultimately they require the services of non psychopath minions if they are to murder and maim more than just a handful in their quest for power and prizes. And therein lay the rub, for it is not the psychopath who is the greatest danger to life and limb, but his or her saner and socially acceptable tier of middle management, along with the even lower level of apparatchiks, bureaucrats and armed muscle.
Based upon my informal studies of humans, nature and cycles, there appears to be peaks and valleys, an ebb and flow with regard to psychopaths and their destructive capacity. Sadly we are headed towards a major peak in the grand cycle of life and I see no ebb from this flow for many years, if not decades, to come.
I envision it as a tide which moves in, drops its load of debris and detritus along with a few psychopaths floating on top mixed in with the green scum. When the water recedes, some of the original load washes back into the sea. What remains behind either quickly perishes in the sweltering sun or is plucked from the sands by a passerby, new life breathed into its withering carcass.
We are headed towards peak withering carcass rescues by opportunistic, greedy, evil or just plainly indifferent people.
Or as so eloquently immortalized by the Sheriff of El Paso while talking with Sheriff Bell over coffee after finalizing their inspection of the last bloody murders of the movie, “It’s the tide. It’s the dismal tide. It’s not the one thing.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself Sheriff.
From L. to R. – Llewelyn Moss, Anton Chigurh and Sheriff Ed Tom Bell
The mostly good, the insanely bad and the thoroughly outmatched.
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