It's a strange world, isn't it?
Jeffrey from Blue Velvet
You're traveling through another dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. That was what Rod Serling said at the beginning of each episode of The Twilight Zone during the second season. When those programs aired in 1960, the strange sci-fi settings of the show did indeed seem to originate from some kind of twilight zone. But underlying the story was always a message designed to make you think about situations encountered in ordinary life.
Next stop: Bizarro World. This is a strange place of opposites where everything is upside down. It is the place where Bizarro lives. He is a fictional character who first appeared in Superman Comics in the late fifties. Bizarro is sort of a distorted mirror image of Superman and in his world, smart is stupid, love is hate, and beauty is ugly. Bizarro World is a place perhaps even stranger than the Twilight Zone in that everything is chaotic and nothing is rational.
Author William S. Burroughs, a twisted old crank, envisioned one of the strangest places of all. Located where the Gobi Desert now exists, The Cities of the Red Night were inhabited by mutants 100,000 years ago. There were six cities and a number of villages.
Burroughs wrote about an incantation of sorts that could be used by an initiate to find the answer to any question. The answer would come in a dream after these words were repeated:
"Nothing is true. Everything is permitted." The last words of Hassan i Sabbah, Old Man of the Mountain
Those were the six cities. Naufana and Ghadis were cities of illusion where nothing was true and therefore everything was permitted. But in Yass-Waddah, everything was true and nothing was permitted, except to the permitters.
Now, try to imagine a transmogrification of all these strange places: The Cities of the Red Night, Bizarro World, and the Twilight Zone. A place where there is always some underlying message amid the chaos, but because the meaning of words constantly change, the message is never clear.
The Rulers live in a dimension where nothing is true and they are permitted to do anything they wish. Simultaneously, everyone else lives in the same dimension where every utterance of the Rulers must always be true, no matter how often the Rulers contradict themselves, and nothing is permitted without permission, except to the permitters.
There is no need to wonder where this strange place because it is here. It is where you are standing. This is the place where you live. A place where consistency is absent and reality is entirely subjective. Here, people live lives of fiction and watch television to observe reality. This is a place where people cling to absurd lies and quickly reject what is obviously true.
Let's call this strange place the Bizarro Red Twilight State - a mighty empire led by violent and deranged men obsessed with power and the symbols of power. Instead of being built on wealth, this empire is built upon debt. Those who toil and sweat to pay tribute to the Rulers are paid with pieces of paper not backed by gold or silver, but by the Rulers' ability to extract tributes from others.
The Rulers of the Bizarro Red Twilight State assign us numbers so that our lives can be reduced to an electronic file in a database. The Rulers can then track us - where we work, how much we earn, where we live, how many children we have, what we own, and what licenses have been granted to permit us to do what we do. As long as you pay that portion of your earnings that the Rulers demand, their agents will not kick down your door and confiscate your property at gun point.
The inhabitants of the Bizarro Red Twilight State are free to purchase, own and consume certain items, but certain items are prohibited. For example, one may purchase cigarettes made from certain plants as long as certain taxes are paid and the seller is licensed, but cigarettes made from other plants to be used for medicinal purposes are prohibited and those who sell or possess these cigarettes may be thrown into jail.
The Bizarro Red Twilight State deems many activities to be evil and those who engage in these activities may have their property confiscated or may be placed in prison. However, when the Bizarro Red Twilight State engages in these same activities, it is deemed good. For example, it is prohibited for people to gamble with each other, but the State encourages people to purchase lotto tickets which they or their licensees issue.
Most citizens of the Bizarro Red Twilight State not only accept the bizarre nature of this strange place, they embrace the State and believe they are experiencing freedom. The citizens are even allowed to participate to a limited degree in selecting the supreme leader of the Bizarro Red Twilight State. This man is known as The President and is considered to be the leader of the world - the leader of the free world.
Every four years, the Rulers select two men who may become The President. The citizens are then allowed to pick which man they want to be their supreme leader for the next four years. This process is often called democracy. The word democracy is interchangeable with the word freedom in the Bizarro Red Twilight State. In the future, these words may morph into one word: freedomocracy. This is a thing so wonderful that it must be imposed on those who live in other strange places through violence and destruction.
The importance of The President should not be misunderestimated, for it is he who determines what the rules are and what words mean. Citizens of the Bizarro Red Twilight State owe their jobs, their property, the stability of their family, their health, and their security to The President, and most are grateful. The President represents all that is good and those opposed to him are evil and hate the Bizarro Red Twilight State, according to the Rulers.
Those who accept the infallibility and goodness of The President are rewarded by the knowledge that since they have no evil to hide, they have nothing to fear - unless an unfortunate mistake is made. This also applies to everyone in the world. People are either with The President, and therefore good, or they are against The President, and evil.
The rules regarding who or what is good and evil are often complicated in the Bizarro Red Twilight State. Fortunately, The President and the Rulers who advise him make these determinations so that ordinary people do not have think. For example, an ordinary person might think that supporting your friends is a good thing, but this is only true sometimes.
The situation in the Mideast illustrates the complexity of good and evil. Israel is good because they use large powerful missiles launched from aircraft to kill hundreds of innocent people and because they have nuclear weapons and are friendly to The President. Hezbollah is evil because they use small missiles launched from the ground to kill dozens of innocent people and because they don't have nuclear weapons and are not friendly to The President.
The Bizarro Red Twilight State is good because it gives weapons worth billions of dollars to Israel every year. Iran and Syria are evil because they support Hezbollah, even if the support is far less than what Israel receives.
The question of who should die in preventive wars of choice is also a complicated issue that should only be left up to the Rulers. For example, when Osama bin Laden was blamed for attacking the Bizarro Red Twilight State on September 11, the Rulers decided it would be a good thing to let Osama slip away into hiding while wars were waged against the innocent people of Afghanistan and Iraq who had nothing to do with the September 11 attack.
Likewise, when Israel is attacked by Hezbollah in retaliation for things done to Palestinians, the Rulers decided that innocent people in Lebanon should die even though the Rulers blame Iran and Syria for the attacks. In the Bizarro Red Twilight State all this makes perfect sense.
Ordinary citizens of the Bizarro Red Twilight State shouldn't bother to think, it would only lead to confusion. To experience the wonderous exhilaration of freedomocracy in the Bizarro Red Twilight State, one must merely listen to The President and pay your tribute to the Rulers in the amount required by them. Remember: everything the Rulers say is true and nothing is permitted without the Rulers' permission.
This article contributed by Tom Blanton of Richmond, Virginia.