September 18, 2012
It’s so simple. And everybody knows it.
Mass mind control focuses on two elements: image and feeling.
By linking the two primary elements, it is possible to short-circuit thought and “cut to the chase,” when it comes to enlisting the allegiance of huge populations.
Two seemingly unrelated events spurred my interest in mass mind control.
On the evening of April 12, 1945, I listened to a radio report on the death of Franklin D Roosevelt. I was seven years old.
I became upset. I didn’t know why. I was angry at my own reaction.
Forty years later, I pulled into a gas station near my apartment in West Los Angeles. I got out of my car and took the cap off my gas tank. I looked to my right and saw Tony Curtis sitting in his car. I was shocked.
A few days later, I began making notes under the heading of “image-emotion cues.” At the time, I had just started working as a reporter, writing articles for LA Weekly. I knew next to nothing about mind control, MKULTRA, Soviet psychiatric gulags, Chinese re-education programs, or US psychological warfare operations.
But because I had been painting for 25 years, I knew something about the power of images.
I remembered my first exhibition of paintings in LA, at my friend Hadidjah Lamas’ house. We had hung my work in her large living room and dining room. Hadidjah had enlisted the services of a friend who had videotaped me painting in my studio, and at the exhibition she set up a television set out on her patio and continuously played the videocassette.
People came through her front door, almost automatically walked through the house to the patio, as if guided by an unseen hand, and watched the video; then they came back inside and looked at the paintings.
They would stop at a painting and say: “That picture was in the video!” “ You see that one? It was in his studio!”
My first note on “image-emotion cues” was, “Investing an image with importance. Projecting emotion into an image.”
Projecting emotion into a newspaper image of the president, FDR. Projecting emotion into the screen image of Tony Curtis. Projecting emotion into a video of a painter working in his studio.
When people encounter an image, when they invest it with importance, they project feeling into the image—and this all happens in a private sphere, a private space.
If this didn’t happen, there would be no way to control populations through images. It wouldn’t work. It all starts with a person setting up his own personal feedback loop that travels from him to an image and back again.
Coming out of World War 2, US psychological warfare operatives knew they could turn their skills to political purposes. They had just succeeded in making Americans believe that all Japanese and German people were horribly evil. They had been able to manipulate imagery successfully in that area. Why couldn’t they shape America’s view of a whole planet that lay beyond personal experience?
They could and they did. But the power to do that emanated from the fact that every person invests images with feeling. That’s where it really starts.
I had seen the 1957 film, Sweet Smell of Success, a number of times. I admired it. Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis gave tremendous performances. When, decades later, I saw Curtis sitting in his car at that gas station, I was “working from” the emotion I had invested in his onscreen image. It produced a sense of shock and paralysis for a few seconds.
Other people might have rushed up to Curtis and asked for his autograph. With me, it was shock, cognitive dissonance. Ditto for the death of FDR. I was working off newspaper pictures I’d seen of him, and the feeling I’d invested in those presidential images. Other people, when FDR died, went out into the street and hugged their neighbors and wept openly. For me, it was upset and shock and anger.
There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with investing emotion in images. It can be exhilarating. It can be uplifting. As a painter, I know this in spades. Putting emotion into images can, in fact, vault you into a different perception of reality.
But on the downside, it can also take you into lockstep with what media operatives want you to experience, second-hand.