“Whole worlds can be fake, yet carry on.”
Curtis Yarvin, née Mencius Moldbug, “2020, the year of everything fake” (Dec. 28, 2020)*
To understand Yarvin’s proposition, you must first understand that a “world” can be fake while containing any number of things that are not. A “world” is an interpretation of things, and an interpretation can be false while the things interpreted are entirely true. We see this in the phrase “my world fell to pieces,” and we see it more memorably in the experience that phrase describes. “My world” that fell to pieces was my false and fanciful arrangement of those pieces. “My world” was a misinterpretation of those facts.
If your world has ever fallen to pieces, you no doubt afterwards uttered the rueful words, “I should have known.” Say, for instance, you misinterpreted the facts of your marriage, and believed you had a happy marriage, until the day your spouse announced that it had been, for your spouse, a living hell alleviated by nothing but adultery, mockery, and surreptitious swigs from a hidden bottle of hooch. Looking back, you would no doubt utter the rueful words, “I should have known,” and those words would contain two valuable admissions:
- You did not want to know, and you therefore
- Swept disconfirming evidence under the rug.
A recently abandoned woman once told me that she sometimes smelled other women on her husband when he climbed into bed, but that she did not want to know what this meant and so swept it under the rug. I had dinner with that couple not long before their divorce, and I did not have to sniff the husband’s underwear to know that their happy home was a fake that was about to fall to pieces.
“Our world will carry on. Maybe we will forget, probably we will forget, the level of fakeness it showed us here.”
This past year was the year hubby not only fell into bed smelling like other women, but actually left the motel bill on the bureau and the condoms in the pocket of his jeans. This means we are going to get gaslighted good and hard now, and that we may by next year really doubt that was a motel bill, and really believe he was only holding those condoms for a friend.
Never forget that we do not want to know the truth and are therefore willing accomplices in our own deception.
The 2020 election was not a fake election so much as an election in which the fundamental fakery of elections showed through. “Our democracy” rolled into bed with an especially funky reek about it, whispering “sorry to wake you, honey, go back to sleep.” It will probably make us breakfast tomorrow morning. It will certainly say it is worried about us walking in our sleep.
The Covid pandemic was not a fake pandemic so much as a pandemic in which the fundamental fakery of public policy showed through. Appearing to do something was at least as important as doing something, since it is for the moment obvious that at least half of the mandated antics have been nothing but Covid theater.
Many murders have been faked to look like natural deaths, but George Floyd’s was a natural death that was faked to look like murder.
For a moment, one wonders how much of our world is like our pointless cloth masks, which we absolutely must wear, but are free to wear entirely under our chins. For a moment one realizes that sprayed on yoga pants are fake clothes, and then one forgets. For a moment one sees those masks as a metaphor for fake diplomas, which absolutely must be earned, but may be earned in any way you like.
And then one forgets.
“Probably we will even become completely inured to it. This is the way things work in the Third World, where no one but a stone cold fool takes the world seriously.”
Humans are hypocrites by nature. We pretend for profit. We pretend for pleasure. We pretend out of sheer perversity. But it takes a world of shameless fakery to make most people into completely shameless fakes. If the appearance of a free and fair election is more important than a free and fair election, does it not follow that my appearing as a good citizen is more important than my being a good citizen? Democracy is just theater. I am just an actor in this ludicrous play. If the appearance of public sanitation is more important than public sanitation, does it not follow that my appearing sanitary is more important than my being sanitary? I adjust my mask knowing that I have a minor part in a vaudeville extravaganza called the Covid Follies.
And if a natural death can be spun as a murder, does it not follow that a murder can be spun as a natural death?
“Of course, this only means the “world” of the shared narrative your society lives in.”
The narrative our society lives in is that we are progressing towards a better world governed by “Democracy,” “Science,” and “Justice.” Last year taught us that this narrative is fake, but that the penalties for failure to play along with this narrative are very, very real. The allusion is more than a little shopworn, but this year Toto pulled back the curtain and the Great and Powerful Oz pumped out more smoke and thunder than ever.
And we for the most part played the role of the Cowardly Lion.
“ The two things that you can still take seriously are physical and historical reality. But you know nothing about the real present and past—because you can only experience reality through narrative, and you have no access to any narrative of present and past which is consistently connected to reality. You have nothing to trust.”
With all due respect to Yarvin, I must here say, speak for yourself. I believe I have at least some access to a narrative of present and past which is in many places, if not perhaps consistently, connected to reality. All the same, I take his point. There is what I call a nausea of disillusionment. Our world falls apart when find we have been lied to, but so does our ability, thereafter, to believe in anything but a fake world. Another way of putting this is that, once you find you have been played for a fool, you will never overcome the suspicion that you are still being played, only this time for a bigger fool. You will never fully recover from the nauseating fear that everything is a cruel joke, and that the butt of the joke is you.
*) Yarvin’s essay seems to have been published as an email message. I read it here.