Roar writer Alex Blank says daring to assume we know anything is arrogant, wondering why we insist on maintaining a rigid line between fantasy and fact.
The first thing I thought of when I saw The Walrus Was Paul: The Great Beatle Death Clues in a bookstore was, “I wonder how much that lawsuit cost them.” Instead, I probably should have concentrated on the fact that, well, how do I truly know if Paul McCartney is alive or not? I’ve never seen him in person. I’ve never talked to him. How do I know if the Beatlemania itself wasn’t fiction? It’s not like I’ve been there when it happened.
There are few things that keep us deceptively tamed—drugs, booze, sex, books, sleep. All of them are a form of oblivion, of relinquishing our senses, of letting an outside force control us. As we drift away on some cloud of whatever our poison consists of, we don’t care about the validity of our experience, of the nature of the illusions we’re subject to. So why do we keep defending the truth, the testable, the falsifiable, with such avidity?
The Conspiracy Society at King’s, designed to encourage us to remain open-minded, is not a crowd-puller, it’s not even a full-fledged society. I myself only found out about it yesterday. I wonder, since we spend so much of our time in fiction, why do we insist on maintaining a rigid line between fantasy and fact? Why do they have to be polar opposites?
We create mini conspiracy theories all the time. If you see an acquaintance on the street and they say ‘hi’ without smiling at you—you must have done something wrong, they must be mad at you, they must hate you with a burning passion of a million blushing planets. Here it is, a theory with no data, with no clear-cut evidence; one based on feeling, intuition, paranoia, our personal way of seeing the world. Are we right? We might be. We might (most likely) not. But we still live within those fantasies every day, and it is how we construct the world, from the little things to the big scary phenomena.
Now, I know, I know, claiming someone doesn’t like you is not quite the same as assuming that someone you’ve just seen at an O2 Academy is no more. But why isn’t it? Who’s to say we don’t already live in a Black-Mirroresque universe? Who’s to say what is true and what is false? Who’s to say that anything is fixed and permanent?
Daring to assume we know something, anything, is pretty arrogant if you ask me. I think going back to ancient Greece, and admitting we know absolutely nothing, would do all of us some good. And, of course, it would be impossible to live in a society where nothing is tangible and everything is for the taking and naming and re-naming, which means we have to divide life into the true and the false, to a certain extent. But a so-called “conspiracy,” in the most basic, decontextualised understanding of the term, gives us a window for merging fact and fiction, the stale and the sublime, the safe and the shaky. It gives us a chance to manipulate reality a bit, to dig under the crust and the core, right into the outlandish.
Why not let the Conspiracy Society be, then? We don’t judge the Doctor Who Society for soaking their eyes in fantasy together. We don’t judge the creative journal KCL Journal for publishing falseness on paper twice a year. Hell, I’ve recently written a conspiracy-ridden short story myself! What is so different about that particular group? Isn’t it just as fake and real, just as controversial and uneventful, as anything else?