My Greatest Fear
If you asked what my greatest fear was, you might be surprised to hear that it’s not dying alone, nor is it seeing a cat with long, human fingers slowly emerging from the shadows – although that one’s up there for sure – but becoming a Conspiracy Guy. Post-911, conspiracies went irritatingly mainstream, and you don’t have to look much further than the self-service queue at Tesco or your own Facebook News Feed to witness paranoid fuckwits harping on about chemtrails, or The Man sticking up so much CCTV that they might as well install a policeman into your house to honk a giant perv-horn into your face every time you even think about having a wank.
The big champion of Conspiracy Guys is David Icke. He started out slow, by dressing funny and issuing dire, po-faced warnings about the impending apocalypse, but these days he tells anyone who listens (and the people who don’t listen are just closed-minded sheeple) that shape-shifting, twelve-feet-tall lizard people walk among us, in the upper echelons of society, eating children, and controlling the world through their secret, lizardy cabal. The human forms these shape-shifting space lizards take include the Queen of England, George W. Bush and Kris Kristofferson. Oh yeah, old Whistler from Blade, when the cameras stop rolling, he’s eating live babies all the live-long day. Oh, and the moon isn’t a moon at all. It’s actually a big, hollow spaceship from which the Space Lizards control and project the Matrix style holographic fantasies that prevent the sheeple from seeing true reality.
As well as most of his theories being what is quite clearly a rampant, untreated case of schizophrenia, Icke regularly “opens the doors of perception” by taking hallucinogens and going on three-day-long drug trips. These things that he sees during these mystical voyages, and then writes and talks about on his speaking tours, they’re not drug induced hallucinations at all. It’s also no coincidence that Icke’s descriptions of the events that led to his spiritual awakening into this Lizardman Mind Matrix are absolutely identical to accounts from sufferers of paranoid schizophrenia of the period when they first developed the illness. The story of the night he learned The Truth involves dropping some tribal acid in Peru and having a disembodied woman’s voice talk to him at length about how everything was an illusion.
“She was very funny,” Icke says, “at points my feet were up in the air because I was laughing so much.” Yeah, well, YOU WERE TRIPPING ON ACID IN THE MIDDLE OF THE JUNGLE. I’d be giggling too if I was high off my arse on coconut-pipes. I’m not a doctor (information I’m legally obliged to surrender after that whole ‘Free breast exam!’ business), but I’m pretty sure the prescribed medication they dole out to people with mental health problems doesn’t normally consist of LSD and Peruvian toad-cum. If he’s going to include crazy shit seen while tripping, Icke might as well work his dream journal into his “teachings” while he’s at it.
David Icke’s “bright white light and voices” origin story ties in neatly with Uri Geller’s similar beginnings, although neither delve too much into those anecdotes these days, oddly. Both have carved long careers out of, essentially, mental illness. Most people think of Geller as the cynically opportunist, wacky spoon guy, but anyone who saw that documentary about him being terrifyingly OCD about his mystical powers and repeatedly trying to guess the age of a confused stranger’s dog will know better. This is a man who’s talked about his own bullshit superpowers for so long, he actually believes it, and thanks to his magical vibes pulsating out into the world, Geller has taken credit for just about every vaguely positive event in the entire course of human history.
It might seem like the mental instability of a David Icke is a long way off for people who merely think Zeitgeist is “really opening my eyes, man,” but once that ball starts on rolling, it’s not always so easy to stop. A great example of somebody’s trundle down the path of conspiracy theories mirroring their own slide into terrible insanity is David Shayler. He was initially known as the MI5 whistle-blower who breached the Official Secrets Act, fled the country, and even did a guest spot on Have I Got News For You via satellite feed on a little monitor, because presumably if the government knew where he was, Black Ops would have shot him in the dick with special spy-bullets. Back then, Shayler looked like this.
Then 911 happened. People tended to react to September 11th in two ways. One way was to think “that was pretty fucked up,” and to mourn the dead; the other, to become convinced it was an inside job and generally behave like a shrieking twat. Yer boy Shayler chose option two, and immediately became a big name on the Truther circuit, giving talks in pubs to people who think Loose Change is totally for realz. At this point, he looked like this.
Then, David Shayler discovered something. He discovered that he was literally the Messiah.
“I am the messiah and hold the secret of eternal life”
Between drags on a roll-up cigarette, he explained how the engravings on the Rod of Aaron, the staff carried by Moses’ older brother in the Old Testament, contained an anagram of “David Shayler, Righteous King”.
It’s all so obvious when you think about it, the evidence clear for all to see in anagrams, and ancient prophecies and, well… undiagnosed schizophrenia. Anyway, he wasn’t just the reincarnated Christ. Among others, in previous lives he’d also been:
– Lawrence of Arabia
– Mark Anthony
– King Arthur (a fictional character)
– Che Guevara (who died two years after Shayler was already born)
Here he is, looking all Christlike.
Since he found out he was the Messiah, Shayler has also been “expanding his mind” with hallucinogens, just like David Icke. But again, I’m sure tonguing a shitload of acid isn’t the cause of thinking you’re Christ or hearing voices, or seeing Lizard Men from space around every corner. Shayler’s post-awakening plan was to save the world by squatting on a farm with a bunch of smelly hippies and growing vast amounts of hemp, which according to him, will magically put an end to climate change. At this point in the David Shayler story, he looks like this.
The link between mental illness and obsessive interest in conspiracy theories is a fascinating one to me, because so often they seem go to hand in hand. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg thing. I think the conspiracy world becomes dangerous because it’s such a cottage industry at this point, that, rather than being told “You should probably knock this on the head for a bit,” tinfoil hatters will easily find a thousand allies to reinforce their beliefs, in any one of the numerous messageboards and conferences devoted to The Illuminati and celebrity horse bukkake rings. If you’re a bit crazy, and you get into digging around about that stuff, you probably feel as though you’re figuring it all out like a detective. Each Youtube lecture or link between two Conspiracy World story tropes has you tumbling deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole, and you’ll want to share this grand, world-shattering truth with others, like a missionary spreading the Good Word. When others can’t see it, or react like you’re insane, that has to be frustrating. Which I’m sure doesn’t help those feelings of paranoia and detachment from society either. Being told “You’re wrong,” is just a nudge to continue from either the sheeple who don’t want to see the truth, or those who’ve been got to by The Man.
Some of the sheer intensity of tinfoil hatters comes from simply not wanting to be proven wrong on something they’ve spent much of their lives obsessing over. For those nuts, it has to be true, or they’ve wasted a decade on something very silly indeed, so any little crumb of “evidence” is hoovered right up and clutched to their chest in desperation-cum-relief. Facts to the contrary just get swatted aside as misinformation, in the fear that everything’s going to come crashing down, lest the world be exposed as just the regular, boring old place it outwardly appears to be. If the leading conspiracy gurus came out tomorrow and out said they’d been wrong the whole time, it would only encourage believers to double up on their tinfoil beanies. “They’ve been gotten to by The Man! Don’t you see?! If David Icke and Alex Jones can be pressured and brainwashed into lying like this, that only shows how right we are!”
As with religious debate, you also get the unassailable viewpoint, where you can be as smug you like, because Kris Kristofferson’s Wikipedia entry being under the categories of 1936 Births and Actors from Texas, yet not Shape-Shifting Lizards is just evidence of the cover-up. “Yeah, but if the Queen ain’t a lizard from space, how comes she ain’t sued David Icke in court or given a DNA sample? Eh? Eh?”
If conspiracy folks weren’t straddling the bridge of sanity to begin, then any serious amount of time trying to convince yourself there’s something in those wacky theories will probably put you down that David Shayler path eventually. And once you get in deep, there’s no easy way out. It’s strictly a one way street; never back down. If you ever had to admit that you were wrong, you’d basically be saying “yes, I was an insane idiot who wasted years of my life thinking there were glass cities on the moon, and Lady Gaga was the mothership for an invading race of mouse-people.” Plus, if I genuinely believed the world was run by blood-drinking giant lizards from space, I’d probably lose my shit a little too.
Right now the big issue on the frazzled minds of Conspiracy Men involves an undercover ring of Scottish bastards, that the nonce-protecting media refuse to out. I won’t get specific here – not because I’m frightened of THE MAN, but I’d just rather my chucklicious blog not get drawn into that whole tedious world. Although, if you’ve been a victim of the chain-email/forum spamming by wannabe activists of this cause yourself, it all seems to me to be a rather obvious case of Münchausen Syndrome by proxy, exploited by some pretty scuzzy folks for a 2000’s take on the Satanic Abuse Scandals of the 80s, complete with false memory syndrome, and with nappy-rummaging politicians in place of the Devil. Google ‘Michelle Remembers,’ as it’s a pretty good insight into what’s going with this.
While I’ve always had this fear of suddenly believing in Conspiracy Guy things, the push to actually make a blog post about it was twofold. Firstly, I stumbled across the Youtube account of a guy who seems to have taken a pretty by-the-book plunge into conspiracy madness. He’s clearly severely mentally ill, and his account contains over 500 arm’s length, phone-shot videos of him being thrown out of various stores and fast food joints, as he accuses bewildered cashiers and aisle-moppers of being undercover FBI agents in league with the Canadian rock band Rush to drive him to suicide. I’m not even going to link to it here, because the whole thing is terribly sad. The other factor to writing this was the perpetual slide into Conspiracy World by a poster of a forum I frequent, which has made for an oddly hypnotic case study in action, over the last few years.
I guess to sum up what turned into a monster of a post, if conspiracy theories are a potential path to mental ill-health, then Loose Change and things of that ilk are the gateway drug. Say no, kids. Unless you’re watching them to have a right old sneery laugh, in which case, go ahead. But you know, since I typed it, I can’t stop thinking about that cat with the long human fingers. I’m pretty sure they don’t exist, but I’ll just check AboveTopSecret.com. Maybe someone’s seen something?