First, let's state these facts about the human race, and more specifically, about the 5% who are Americans:
1. People will believe any crap, and the facts are useless against a crap-filled belief system.
2. When one bunch of people looks at the problems of another person or another bunch of people, they always ask: how can we make their problems all about us?
These are two of the most powerful operative principles that define the human condition.
Whatever is happening out there — like the early passing of Michael Jackson — you can be pretty sure that your understanding of it will depend on these two operative principles. None of us — not even Chomsky, Heidegger or Foucault — is immune to their power.
And here's why:
We live in a world of stories, not a world of events.
We live in a world of stories told by a whole bunch of story-tellers.
Politicians. Philosophers. Experts. Pundits. Critics. Academics. The media. Bloggers. Wall Street. Main Street. Labor unions. Global capitalists. Et cetera.
These story-tellers tell us their stories so they can gain all sorts of goodies for themselves.
Votes. Ratings. Sales. Market shares. Wages. Bonuses. Grants. Nobel Prizes. And so on.
And we believe their stories.
We believe their stories NOT because they are TRUE stories, but because they are GOOD stories.
They appeal to our story-enjoying selves, the way comedies and tragedies about men, women and the gods appealed to the ancient Greeks, where the template for Western-minded stories was created.
A. SOME AMERICAN STORIES
Today, our American stories include:
1. The right beer or handbag can get you laid or admired or promoted by a person with higher status than you.
2. You can get really lucky and become a celebrity.
3. Celebrities suffer just like us or worse than us.
4. A messiah will arrive among our anointed selves to save our sorry asses just when we need him, and maybe he'll get killed in the process, be he Jesus, FDR, JFK, MLK, Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, John Lennon, or Michael Jackson.
5. All that is good in this world has been brought into the world by us. Look at how we brought down Soviet Communism, and South African apartheid, and rid the world of dictators like Saddam, Lumumba, Aristide, and Allende. Everything we do and have in America is better, from the iPhone to SUVs to the Ivy League to Hollywood to our Constitution to Springsteen to Barack Obama to Goldman Sachs to our democracy to our sports, which include the aptly named World Series.