On June 24, 2054, Presidential candidate Jones Q Jones was ushered into a conference room of the US Federal Elections Commission All Hail Our Glorious Government Messiah, Amen.
Jones sat down across a polished table from Inspector Scorpio T Love. The following conversation took place:
Inspector Love: Jones, it’s come to our attention that you recently gave a speech in which you cited a specific number, representing the dollar amount of federal aid given to inner cities over the past 50 years.
Jones: Yes. Five trillion dollars. And I mentioned what an obvious failure this program has been. Poverty in inner cities is at an all-time high.
Love: Yes. We don’t mind your accusation. But you’re not permitted to say “five trillion dollars.”
Jones: Why not?
Love: Because it’s a specific. Specifics tend to produce unnecessary excitement in the voting public. They get worked up.
Jones: You’ve lost me.
Love: An election campaign is about generalities. Let me give you a few examples. A brighter future for our great nation. All of us working together. Correcting the abuses of the past. The duty of every citizen. The preservation of justice. Better education for our children. More money for research. Healing our wounds. Forging closer ties with our allies abroad. International year of peace.
Jones: What about “the FBI screwed up 57,893 felony cases through faulty fingerprint and DNA analysis?”
Love: Absolutely forbidden. It arouses unpredictable emotions. Too specific.
Jones: How about “the US medical system kills 225,000 people every year?”
Love: Not permitted. You could be prosecuted for a felony.
Jones: How serious a felony?
Love: Three years in a federal lockup. Forfeiture of all assets. Reprogramming.
Jones: What kind of reprogramming?
Love: Four years of undergraduate studies at Harvard.
Jones: Listen, those political phrases, those generalities you suggested? They’re meaningless.
Love: They mean just enough.
Jones: Enough for what?
Love: They suggest possibility.
Jones: “Could be, but never is”? Is that what you mean?
Love: The generalities resonate with people who can’t think, can’t follow a line of reasoning, can’t dig down into the details of an issue. These people make up a majority of the electorate. They must be accommodated.
Jones: Is that a law?
Love: It’s a regulation. We enforce it.
Jones: Can I use a generality like “people who work for the federal government are stupid”?
Love: Absolutely. Yes. Don’t you see? The substance of the generality is irrelevant.
Jones: This is…I’m staggered.
Love: Jones, we are about to improve the whole tenor of political-campaign discourse in this country. What I’ve just been explaining to you is going to change. In the future, candidates will utter permitted phrases like “X is Y.” The opposing candidate will say, “No, X is Z.”
Jones: Do you mean that literally?
Love: I only speak literally. Yes. Instead of employing sentences with recognizable nouns and verbs, candidates will rise to a meta-level. X is Y. Z is C. K is L. And so forth.
Jones: But that makes no sense at all.
Love: It’s a wonderful innovation. Think of it. No more sloppy disagreement. No foolish overblown rhetoric. Just pure meta-abstraction signifying the fact of disagreement without having to spell out the content of disagreement.
Jones: In that case, there will be no recognizable difference between one candidate and another.
Love: Not necessarily. The degree of authority and passion with which one utters “X is Y” will carry the day.
Jones: Why use letters like X and Y? Why not numbers?
Love: Because numbers add up to something. That could suggest a specific. We need more abstract generality.
Jones: You could build a robot that would earnestly and passionately say, “X is Y.”
Love: As you well know, we already have millions of such robots. And yes, I believe the day is coming soon when a robot will run for the office of President.
Jones: The President must be born in the United States.
Love: Born, manufactured. What difference does it make? All robots, under federal law, are connected to the same super-computer. That computer could generate the differences between Presidential candidates—assuming that two robots ran against each other. It’s the perfect solution. The super-computer would select key issues on which the population disagrees, then translate them into meta-level speak and dole them out to the candidates…
Jones woke up in his bed. He was drenched in sweat. He had become dizzy and fainted in the conference room, during the interview. They had taken him to Water Reed Hospital. The doctors determined it was just a panic attack. They released him after giving him a pill.
But…how could he tell the American people what was happening? The problem was, the people only understood generalities. That was clear to him now. His effort at deploying specifics would go nowhere.
His phone buzzed. He picked it up.
“Mr. Jones,” a calm and mellow voice said. “I’m from the PR firm, Slant, Vice, Walleye, and Globular. We understand you may be having a problem with your campaign speeches and debate strategies. We can help you. The skill set required for communicating generalities is our specialty. Producing an effective impact with essentially empty phrases is an art in which we are steeped. We can train you. We can work this out. We can assuage any worries you may have.”
“You can?” Jones croaked.
“Most assuredly, sir. You’re a viable candidate. You have the background. You just need the proper coaching. That’s what we’re here for. You see, all false realities are built up from generalities. The universe itself would not exist without them.”
Jones sat up in bed. He felt a shock run through his body.
“Are you saying…the universe is a false reality?” he said.
He heard laughter on the other end of the line.
“In the beginning was the word, and the word was public relations.”
Jones whispered, “Let me get back to you.”
“Of course,” the voice said. “But consider this. Every structure, every system, is generated from seeds. And every closed system needs seeds that are…what shall I say…deceptive. Ultimately deceptive.”
“You’re losing me,” Jones said.
The voice clucked. “Hmm. Let me put it to you this way. The art of politics is the art of ruling, and the art of ruling is the art of making people think they need to be ruled. With me so far? There could exist a world in which every person knew he could imagine and invent his own realities without end. That’s a possible world. Yes? But it’s not this world. In this world, people want Someone Else to invent reality. Given that fact, we plant the right seeds. Our seeds are empty generalities. They are a kind of secret treaty between the people and their rulers—from which towering government is born. The deal is, the rulers will spout empty phrases and the people will absorb them, like food. Sustenance. Do you see?”
Jones nodded. “I’m beginning to,” he said.
“Good. Well, you need help in knowing how to plant your seeds. And that’s where we come in. You can be a front man for The Method. The Method is the ruler’s art of living up to his end of the treaty. You can fulfill that role effectively and win, or you can perform it badly and lose, and sink back into obscurity, and become a schmuck. You can front brilliantly for The Method, or you can fail. Which outcome do you want, Mr. Jones?”
Jones hung up the phone. He lay back in his bed and stared at the darkness. He realized he was at a crossroad.
Someone was trying to hand him the keys to the kingdom. And he was having doubts.
It suddenly seemed ridiculous. What was he fighting against? The essence of the thing was, he was lacking a few tricks. That’s all. And he could learn how to do those tricks. He could Bush and Clinton his way forward. He could be part of the answer or part of the question. The question would go on asking itself forever. It was a non-starter.
His problem was wrapped up in learning a new language. A simpler language. Words for the masses.
How could he have missed seeing this before? His whole education had somehow veered off the track. So much effort, so much wasted time.
Well, all that could be corrected now. He could plug the hole in his understanding of how things worked. He could deliver the goods.
As he drifted off to sleep, a glaze of confusion set in. Did he really have that interview earlier in the day? Perhaps it was a faulty memory. There were such things.
He dreamed he was President of the United States. He was sitting at a huge table in the White House planning a State of the Union speech. Pages of notes lay before him.
The notes were composed of letters, not words. X, Q, L, M, B, G, O.
Suddenly, he understood what they were. They were the building blocks of a reality whose essence lay just beyond his grasp.
It was a wonderful structure, like a mansion. Its rooms were quiet. Empty. Unoccupied. Waiting.
Waiting for him. All he had to do was make an announcement and the letters and the house would come alive. A party would spring into being. All the guests there, already engaged in conversation. The food and drinks laid out. The servants…
So he spoke, with great assurance: X, Q, L, M, B, G, O.
Voila. He was at his own dinner. The guests were standing in small groups, talking to each other. They were exchanging phrases. The words were so vague, so wonderful. They seemed to carry great import. So this was the world he had missed. This was the place he had mislaid. This was the home he had aspired to.
And it was born out of neutral seeds of enormous fluid pretension. How astonishing, that such a thing could happen.
The dream gradually faded.
He fell into a deeper well of sleep, contented, as a voyager who has finally found a secret after a harrowing journey.
It was worth it. His whole life was worth it, now. His search was over.
He wished everyone could experience this surpassing peace. But he knew it was only for the few.
In the weeks, months, and years to come, he would learn to accept this fact.
The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free NoMoreFakeNews emailshere or his free OutsideTheRealityMachine emails here.