“In effect, the human being should be considered the priority objective in a political war. And conceived as the military target of guerrilla war, the human being has his most critical point in his mind. Once his mind has been reached, the “political animal” has been defeated, without necessarily receiving bullets.
This conception of guerrilla warfare as political war turns Psychological Operations into the decisive factor of the results. The target, then, is the minds of the population, all the population: our troops, the enemy troops and the civilian population . . .”
–manual authored by the CIA and distributed to the Nicaraguan terrorists (contras) *
I sure wish I could remember what I thought about before the OTHERS got control of my MIND. The battle was over by the fourth grade. I remember trying to fight off certain “bad” thoughts. It felt like they were coming from inside of me. I also remember doing “naughty” things and I just didn’t know why I was doing them. Then I’d be standing outside the classroom in the hall of my elementary school, sent out by my teacher. I’d peer through the window in the door. What was I missing?
Freedom of speech is so awesome. We can say whatever we think.
But we have to think it first.
When the Freedom Train came to my hometown, I climbed aboard. You bet I did. The year was 1976; those were heady, bicentennial times. Local artists had painted all the fire hydrants in revolutionary garb. The Red, White, & Blue train pulled into a freight yard and set up its traveling museum: Betsy Ross’s needle and thread, Paul Revere’s lantern, George Washington’s axe. Artifacts of the Dream.
Meanwhile, my Romanian doppelganger was stuck in Eastern Europe, playing with an apple doll beneath the shadow of a giant Soviet power plant. The monstrous totalitarian machinery had swallowed up her Transylvanian landscape. She didn’t even have fluoride in her tap water.
I met her years later, after college. We drank together in downtown Manhattan and we wrote performance art pieces. We videotaped flushing toilets. We wrestled for creative control. Then one day she told me our friendship was over. Apparently, I had threatened to punch her out the night before when we were at a bar. I didn’t remember threatening her. I’m not the punching kind. I must have been in some kind of American blackout. A moment of freedom. I didn’t mean to hurt anyone.
Back to elementary school. One time I threw up during the pledge of allegiance. As I recall, it was pretty much straight OJ. The class kept right on with the pledge.
*as quoted in The Gen X Reader: “Seize the Media,” by The Immediast Underground.
**from Here is Your Hobby: Doll Collecting by Helen Young, c. 1964.