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It's Not a Plot
I’ve been working on a screenplay for a while now. The plot is pretty wild, but it’s been a bit of a challenge to actually write the thing.

It’s all about this monstrous global conspiracy, see, and these elites and mysterious, dark forces that are bent on wreaking havoc on us and our way of life. My hero is a someone a lot like you and me. He’s got a job, and a family, and things are pretty scary for him right now. His dialogue has been easy to write. He’s just a regular guy trying to keep the fear at bay. He’ll believe anything as long as it kills the fear. He’d be a cinch for any actor to play, I think.

The role of the the bad guys, on the other hand, might be a little harder to get into. Here’s this super-powerful, immensely rich corporate head (or something like that). He absolutely hates me and you. And he especially hates my hero and wants to destroy America and everything we holds dear. But why?

I can imagine Josh Brolin, for instance, asking me, “Tim, what’s my motivation here?” I’m not sure I’d have a ready answer, but he persists: “Why do I even care about a bunch of non-entities, much less hate them and want to destroy their lives?”

It’s a good question. In fact, that’s the conceptual puzzle that’s got me hung up with the writing. Isn’t the whole point that the elites don’t care about us? Wouldn’t it be better for them to just let us go on as we are…earning low pay, stimulating the economy with our mindless consumption, not getting in their way? It would be stupid to destroy our pathetic little world, right? We pose no threat at all to such people.

Furthermore (Josh might ask) why would they want to replace us with a bunch of poor immigrants? Immigrants wouldn’t have nearly as much money to be siphoned away by the all-powerful. I know that my answers to these questions wouldn’t have to make sense for my conspiracy to work in real life, but what about on the big screen? Not only would a plot like that never fly in Hollywood, it would cause me to lose face in front of Josh Brolin (and Walton Goggins, who is also being considered for the role).

After all, I have my reputation as a storyteller to think of here. And my pride. So the story has to make some kind of sense. Tucker Carlson (the lucky stiff) doesn’t have these kinds of problems.
You Decide
Kirsten Gillibrand, the junior Senator from New York, has an excellent point. Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett, and Clarence Thomas are all liars. Each of them told the same lie — under oath — during their confirmation hearings to become justices (if you will permit me to paraphrase): “I will not overturn Roe vs. Wade.”

Ah, but they will. The recently leaked opinion penned by Alito proves it. So there you have it…there is a majority of liars on our Supreme Court. (John Roberts, now Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, made a similar assurance during his confirmation hearings, but it is not clear yet whether he has joined with the majority of liars.)

They all sought to mislead the U.S. Senate (and us). Furthermore, the very specific purpose of their lie was to become justices so they could do the very thing they said they wouldn’t: — take away the right to have an abortion from U.S. citizens.

Let’s be clear, then: at least five of the majority of our sitting Supreme Court justices committed perjury — a felony — in order to cast a vote in this case.

Not that anyone was actually mislead by those lies. Everyone knew that none of these people would have been nominated in the first place if they hadn’t agreed to vote to overturn Roe at their earliest opportunity. Senators Collins and Murkowski knew, in spite of what they have said to the contrary. (They, too, are liars…though not perjurers.) Their party, the Republican Party, has been running on that promise ever since the case was decided in 1973. Of course they would only nominate anti-abortionists.

I don’t want to go too deeply into all of the arguments here, either for or against abortion. The legal reasoning behind Alito’s draft opinion, however, is worth noting. It is couched in the rationale of Originalism (a relatively new approach to Constitutional interpretation), and though it makes a kind of sense within that highly suspect theory, it is clear that the fundamentals of jurisprudence are secondary here. Alito and his fellow perjurers are not interested in the law, only in the outcome they were placed on the court to ram through.

There has been an explosion of outrage at this elicitly leaked opinion across the political spectrum. On one side, people are enraged over the snatching away of the Constitutional right to make decisions about one’s own body. I can’t help but agree with them.

On the other side, they are fuming about the leak itself. I must say that I agree with them, too. Such leaks do undermine credibility and respect for the judicial system. My question, though, is whether respect for the court is damaged more by a leak than it is by a cadre of hypocrites and felonious liars seizing control over our lives?

You decide. It’s a free country, after all.
Meanwhile, Back at the Website
In case you’ve missed it, for the last three years I’ve been grinding out a graphic novel based on my comic strip Subconscious Comics. Now the writing, the drawing, the coloring, and the building of a Kickstarter campaign are done. I raised the money I needed to print and publish Head Start. All that’s left now is the nuts and bolts of getting it out to my stalwart backers. Thanks to all of you.

As I return my focus to, I notice that we are reaching another milestone. Over the last two decades, I have been on a path to republishing all one thousand episodes of Subconscious, starting with the strips from 2000 and working backward toward the very first installments from the end of 1980. Two weeks ago, I finally began posting strips from 1981.

After such a long time, I only barely recognize some of these strips. It’s almost as if I’m getting to experience them in the same way others did — just with a 40-year time delay. The drawing style (to my eye) changed a lot over the life of the strip. The Boss looks pretty much the same, but Nemo, the other characters, and the topography of the subconscious have evolved and matured.

Not Nemo’s personality, though, nor any of the other characters’. I am proud to say that they have remained consistent in that way. Nemo is still as calm, centered — and detached — as he ever was. The Boss is still a tangle of complexes and neuroses. Ava didn’t arrive until 1985 (so you won’t see her again as postings head backward in time toward that very first episode), but she has brought that same fire ever since she arrived.

I seem to have slipped into a reverie about my comic strip. That wasn’t my intention, really. Still, I am struck by the fact that, in producing the graphic novel, I’ve put those old characters back in the front row of my mind. They re-entered my daily thoughts for the first time in decades.

It appears I am more attached to them than I had realized. Strange. They’re imaginary people, after all. And not even people — creatures of the subconscious. Cartoon creatures of the subconscious. Even so, I will miss them — again — if they go away.
As I have confessed here in the past, there has been a dark turn in my personal philosophy. I am not happy about this change; it has compelled me to re-examine my whole approach to dealing with my fellow man.

Let’s just say that I am not as upbeat and forgiving as I was five years ago — about my neighbor, and by logical extension, about myself. Are humans really this stupid? Well. I may have found a way back from this metaphysical precipice.

One of the chief drivers of my internal shift has been the shocking propensity of my species — fully comprehended by me only recently — to buy into conspiracies as a way of explaining the world. I am troubled by this because it is obvious to me that conspiracies are a very poor way to explain anything. They do exist, but to believe that they could account for any large, complicated phenomenon in our world would defy common sense or clear, rational thought at any level. I won’t use the word stupid, but I am definitely thinking it.

Conspiracies are frightening, as well, because large numbers of my fellow humans are making important decisions (including voting) based on these misguided versions of reality. It’s beginning to seriously spook me.

But as I say, I think I have discovered a path to understanding that might preserve my mental health — and even restore my feelings for my fellow humans. The secret is not to focus on the illogic of these conspiracists, or even on their manifest foolishness. The problem here is not with reason at all, but rather with emotion.

I think I knew that all along, but until a few days ago, I didn’t fully appreciate what it meant. I tend to forget, I guess, that emotion doesn’t operate by the same rules as reason. Logic doesn’t apply, or even common sense. It’s all about what these conspiracists are feeling.

In these times of pandemics, global warming, overpopulation, worldwide human misery…okay, that’s enough. You get the picture. Things are scary these days. Changes are coming at us at an alarming clip. People are afraid. And that’s where conspiracies come in. When it starts to get too scary, people are ready for an explanation — any explanation — that makes the fear go away. It doesn’t matter that the explanation is stupid, because stupid is irrelevant.

I think that’s what was blocking me on this. I couldn’t see how an explanation that involved dark forces beyond our control could possibly make anyone feel better. Being at the mercy of something mysterious and all-powerful is terrifying to me. How could that help? It doesn’t make sense.

But I have been missing the point. It doesn’t have to make sense. It only has to make the fear go away. If it can supply an enemy, even an unseen one, then there is room for anger. Conspiracies, I think, allow us to get mad. Which is way more fun than fear. Whatever works, right?

So that’s my new theory… something like that, anyway. I’m still working on it. One thing I do know is that this theory is making me feel better. A little more forgiving, perhaps. Hey, whatever works.

(THE END IS NEAR: you can still click HERE
and back Head First on Kickstarter. Thanks!)

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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon