The Tropiary Garden

From the early fifties to the late seventies, Jean Shepherd, a legendary humorist and radio personality, hosted a show on WOR AM in New York- For an hour each week, he would spin hilarious yarns about his youth while growing up in the depression era mid-west- He also offered humorous social commentary about contemporary life in the Big Apple- A Christmas Story is his most famous piece of fiction, concerning young Ralphie Parker, Shepherd’s alter ego, and a BB gun, which was made into a cult movie which is today second only to It’s A Wonderful Life as popular Xmas TV fare-

Occasionally Shep would tell a story that featured two cavemen, Og and Charlie-  In one of the tales, Og had a bum knee and asked Charlie why he had a bum knee and what he should do about it- Charlie, sensing an opportunity, sold Og a bill of goods involving omens and portents that had nothing to do with strained cartilage and the like, Charlie asking for two clams in payment for his analysis- Og, still in pain but relieved of the stress caused by the mystery of his bum knee, dutifully fetched extra clams from the shore and expected his knee to improve- When it didn’t, Og asked Charlie for an explanation- Charlie added some new and irrelevant stipulations to the process of the cure and charged two more clams- Relieved of stress, though still in pain, Og complied- Soon enough, Og became dependent on Charlie’s interpretation of reality, feeding Charlie daily even as his knee got worse- What Shepherd missed, thinking only that people are gullible to fast talkers with a confident voice, is that Og became a stress relief junkie- Charlie’s lies made Og feel good for a time, the relief becoming more addictive as the knee pain increased-

Cortisol is a hormone- It secretes from the adrenal glands during times of stress- It is corrosive, which is why people under constant stress develop terrible health problems, notably, cancer- Dopamine is a balancing hormone which secretes in the brain once stress abates and some low level euphoria ensues- Og got hooked on relief- Soon, without realizing it, this kind of dopamine junky will go looking for stressful opportunities- He interprets the world in such a fashion as to produce stress and the attendant relief- This is the principle behind the tobacco companies running anti-smoking ads- They know smokers will get stressed over images of cancer patients blowing smoke out of holes in their throats and will immediately light up to relieve stress-*

Tropes, all kinds

So I got to wondering, just how did the grand scam begin? How did mankind become stress relief junkies like Og? I don’t know if the development of language was a natural evolutionary step forward or some type of mind control project, but language has allowed man to think in single file narratives and develop the concept of causality- Basically, Og asked “why” and Charlie gave him an answer: “This caused that”- “That can be avoided by this”- (Ca-ching!) Charlie employed literary tropes rather than empirical observation to fleece Og- Tropes fire emotions, charts and graphs of knee joints don’t have a chance in response-

It is amazing how our perceptions are guided by such literary slight of hand, stories designed to fire emotional triggers but which have absolutely nothing to do with true cause and effect or even genuine human nature- Tropes help to give us a short hand explanation for things seemingly out of our control, the constructs involving tropes provide emotionally satisfying answers, most often this triggers relief, and stress is replaced by euphoria, (small ‘e’): “Ahh, that’s what it was- Whew! I feel good so mystery solved because if the solution wasn’t real, I wouldn’t feel relief”-

We have to fight hard to override emotion and employ objective analysis- Trusting our five senses, recalling life experiences for comparison, assessing one’s best interests against a perceived threat, and trusting our instincts in coordination with highly developed intuition is very hard to do when emotions are ablaze-  Charlie’s ‘this caused that’ does not invite such objectivity when attended by emotional relief- Fictional drama, the armature of literary tropes, is an obvious tool for behavioral control by the powers that be- Aristotle’s Poetics sells the stated virtues of catharsis, Og’s temporary relief- It goes back farther than Greece, but that’s as good a place as any to start if you want to trace the development of programmed, state sanctioned stress and relief conditioning-

Flatter yourself

The Beatles, always a handy example, are constructed largely of tropes- We have the tale of rags to riches via hard work, skill, and skill’s by product, luck- We have the tragedy of two missing mothers, Paul and John’s mothers died young- Twin orphans, geniuses who used that loss for the world’s gain- Who could not feel for the two lads from such humble circumstances? It’s all too pat, sure, but you can’t question any of it because it wasn’t a movie, it was real-

This is an important distinction to make because every time you have an emotional reaction to staged fictional drama, you are suspending disbelief in order to wallow in that emotion you paid big bucks to experience- When emotions are tugged by “real-life” events, which don’t cost a penny, you buy it simply because it wasn’t a movie, it was free of charge, no hidden agenda to fleece you is involved- You aren’t, so you think, engaging in suspension of disbelief- But you do stress out- The Actor in Chief comes on air to relieve your stress- Thank the gods he’s there- You light up, or scarf a Jumbo Jack, or scroll through your bookmarked porn, or max out your Amazon gift card-

Welcome to Fantasy Island

As Shep would segue: Speaking of The Beatles, one major thing they were designed to do is allow fans to enter a fantasy land where they could project themselves onto the stage- I suspect most boys went through George, imagining themselves that character, the quiet Beatle as, even in their own fantasies, they wouldn’t dare imagine themselves to be true geniuses- Of course nobody wanted to be Ringo, the comedy relief- And the Beatle George has had his persona evolve to a degree: Now understood to be the one real musician in the band, and a technician to boot who could repair the amps when they blew, sort of a proto-techie- And he was quick witted, wouldn’t blink when swells made quips, George giving some drollery right back, like a gun slinger twirling his six shooter before holstering his weapon and walking away with a smirk- And George kept his ego in check, didn’t need the spotlight directly on him, just a reflection of the glory of Lennon/McCartney- A natural skeptic, genuinely talented, always cool under fire, could help get your car started if he found you stalled on the side of the road- His cool swami would insist on such charity from a guy who didn’t need to make such efforts to be admired-

With these malleable personality templates which the mop top characters provided, anyone’s enhanced self-image could be attached to the Beatle narrative and emotions of all kinds could be tapped- And, of course, there are the recordings- Like Muzak, they can at times be barely audible to the  consciousness of people whose memories go all the way back to Beatlmania- But the songs can often jog pleasant memories, the soundtrack securing those memories in amber, this history inaccessible to critical revue, no longer questionable- Like the Beatles records, the historical record of that time is fixed in memory, bittersweet at times, but nostalgia can be affecting- Nostalgia was originally thought of as a mental disorder, that’s how powerful it once was, long before psycho-babble helped dial down such potent feelings in Charlie-like BS to make it effectively distracting without disabling the auto-pilot function of the comfortably numb- And if you don’t have the capacity for containment of this low frequency emotional hum in order to activate your critical faculties, are you going to question any history? Why would you? The Beatles make you feel good so they must be real-

The risk of questioning a point in history is that such scrutiny may cascade and everything ends up under review, especially from mainstream sources- Suddenly you can’t cherry pick- That means your memories of the Beatles must come under review- What a loss to your fantasy life if it was proven the Beatles were just more of Charlie’s bullshit- What then? That would make you feel sad, maybe despondent, even angry- Why go there? Too much stress-

Something for Mom and Dad

From the same era there were tropes for the grown-ups: Commies! The Cuban missile crisis turned JFK into a secular saint, hitting the road to dispense wise words of peace after his “Road to Damascus” moment, always a popular trope to simplify and occlude the true character of the convert- This peace-nick move by Kennedy, according to the narrative, made him vulnerable to a military coup- Assassination! As seen on TV- Who wants to review the actions and words of a martyr? What kind of monster are you?

911 was crude by comparison, but the dumbing down dividend had matured by then and the tropes from Arnold Schwarzenazi films allowed for belief in sand niggers from space attacking Lady Liberty- Are you going to listen to those who blame “Zionist hoodlums” in Hollywood for making Arabs into fall guys so many times the public swallowed the narrative whole? Arab/Jew is an evergreen source for the tropiary garden- Try finding your way out of that maze any time soon without being labeled an anti-Semitic Holocaust denier, you Nazi sonofabitch!

How about “Cui Bono”? That trope ushered in a spate of LBJ whacked JFK noirs, as if the Pentagon and their bankers couldn’t stop a thug from shooting his way to power (A thug who conveniently gave those same forces everything they could possibly want from the White House clown car)

And what of soldiers, cops, any man in uniform that has a license to kill? What tropes have they been saddled with? Passing through the Viet Nam era, the man in uniform went from John Wayne to Travis Bickle- After 911, he reemerged as that hero people on the street thank for his service- Now look what’s happening-  Of course cops aren’t killing black people as we are told, but today that’s tasty drama for some, racists as well as bum knee jerk liberals- (Never underestimate the addictive qualities of vicarious suffering- White guilt is the most precious commodity produced by the mind benders- White people have the spending power and comfort shopping is always a primary goal) And this institutionalized racist mayhem, it’s not happening on TV, see, it’s out in the streets, in Meat Space fer chissakes, at least that’s what the TV is telling us so it must be true- Are you telling me the legitimate gripes of black people are fueled by hoaxes? What chapter of the Klan do you belong to, cracker?

Suspension of disbelief used to be reserved for live theater, the novel, radio dramas, TV shows, movies- Today the reality sold by Charlie’s descendants requires suspension of disbelief around the clock and around the world- All exits truly are blocked, at least for the junky-

*My DOC is ice coffee- At this point I know I drink beer every night so every morning I can resurrect from the dead with the cheery bean- It’s a cheap high, but that’s what I got- It’s physical, not psychological, he said, overwhelmed by peals of derisive laughter…

4 thoughts on “The Tropiary Garden

  1. Nice writing, Tyrone. You keep it lively by drifting and then pulling us in again.

    You and I (and Len Osanic) are perhaps the only people alive who have read John Armstrong’s Harvey and Lee. I am going to put up a piece soon about the Oswald Twins, and no, they did not star in Full House. It is amazing that Armstrong never made the twin connection, but then, neither did I, sure as I could be that one of them was a Hungarian, as he suggested.

    I bring this up because of testimony from a woman in North Dakota that one of the Oswald boys had stated in the mid-1950s that someday he would kill the president.

    That did not happen, as I see it, and might just be clever back story, as she wrote to President Johnson about the event long after it would have been known to be truly prescient. My question for you is this: Do you think that it was known that John F. Kennedy, son of Joe, brother of Joe and Kathleen, who faked their deaths, would be elected, lionized, mythicized, and then brutally fake-murdered in a public square? [I forgot to add “in the mid 1950s?”] After all, if they wrote a script of such depth for the Beatles, managing our perceptions to this day, did they do the same with JFK, having planned it years in advance?


    1. Great stuff, Tyrone. Also gives another reason for the usefulness of keeping us collectively traumatized: to provide us with the tropes and products to soothe our anxieties…


    2. Yes, I absolutely believe they mapped this all out- One of many reasons the Kennedys were used is the abundance of Kennedy bastards, if Miles’ theory is correct, and I think it is, and that Rose had at most, Joe Jr.-
      Joe Jr. wasn’t a public figure and no one had heard of him, really, until after his exit- The bastards, starting with John, all had a role, large and small, to play as “Kennedys”-
      The maintenance of false history is easier to fathom than the prep for creating false history- The first Kennedy dies in 1944, the last in 1999- 55 years- Funny numbers from the get go- 4.5 years between JFK and RFK deaths- 3 year ministry for Jesus F Kennedy- These numbers aren’t arbitrary-
      Then there are all of those Lincoln/Kennedy coinkidinks, my favorite of course being: Lincoln was shot in Ford’s Theater, Kennedy was shot in a Ford Lincoln Continental- Complete stagecraft-
      A John Kennedy of the NYPD allegedly uncovered a plot to shoot Lincoln back in 1861- Hollywood made a film about that in 1951- Congressman JFK was in Southeast Asia at the time, prepping for the American take over of Indochina- The film was obviously a subconscious prep for taking JFK seriously as presidential “fodder”-
      (BTW, Mary Todd and Jackie both died at age 64- Jackie wasn’t a Kennedy so her death in 2000 doesn’t count against the K’s funny numbers)-
      This all seems superficial but then again this stuff is just sitting there like Play Doh, waiting for the kids to use their imaginations and make something with it- And it may be a clue as to how these things are blueprinted- The numbers aren’t just signals to fellow spooks to stand down, but signposts to cue action-
      Or, there was no action, just press releases and postmortem pictures, films, diary entries, false accusations from long ago mistresses , Yadda Yadda-
      There is a school of thought that I give credence to which is that Roman literature was the exclusive effort of members of the royal bloodlines, publishing under pseudonyms to give the illusion that the literate classes could express themselves even if not terribly high born- But, just as today, no outsiders got a public platform- For example, Flavius Josephus was actually someone named Arrius Calpernious Piso, the Piso clan being arguably the most powerful in Rome- Never heard of them? No big surprise there- And that, if true, would throw grave doubt on what “Josephus” said happened in the first century CE- Yes, as is its propaganda, but perhaps it has absolutely nothing to do with what actually happened- At all!
      If so, would it be a stretch to have the entirety of our history within living memory be All stagecraft? If modern Pisos owned all of the MSM, as they actually do, they could sell anything, including the existence of a family named Kennedy, their trials and tribulations and none of it could be anything approaching “real”- If that’s the case, the numbering systems are the only things that really matter in these sagas because those numbers will include the dates when news of the hoaxes are to be released to the public-
      I can imagine a spook royal writer tasked with creating a story line to coincide with certain dates- Another writer creates characters to flesh out the story, creating details in false personal histories to sell the verisimilitude and trigger emotions in the reader/viewer- Actors are selected from the bastard pool to pose for photos and wave to the cameras- Disaster strikes offstage- Reporters are fed the story from in house investigators- The world reads of tragedy, Kennedy style- It’s part of history now and never won’t be- A few marginals will figure it out… maybe the house of cards will collapse- We are in uncharted waters at the moment…


  2. Very well thought out. I particularly like your point about the geometrical affect of dumbing us down. After all, the scripts were done with much better care back in the 60’s. Or are they deliberately mocking us?


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