The venerable Rabbi Hillel, challenged to relate the essence of the Five Books of Moses while standing on one foot, replied: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That’s the whole Torah. All the rest is commentary.”
In the unlikely event I’m challenged to elucidate Spectacle doctrine in the same manner, I’d have to go with the above James Baldwin quote that’s graced the Prelude of nearly every Spectacle performance.
Society Succumbing to Illusion
Baldwin's warning embodies one of The Spectacle’s central concerns: that a society that succumbs to illusion, allowing itself the luxury of passively or actively supporting indefensible behavior while wrapping itself in the protective veneer of self-righteous innocence, is ultimately doomed.
I fear this is the road we Americans are traveling. I wonder how this came to pass. I worry that the disease may be too far advanced to cure. The cavalcade of brutality and absurdity that is 21st-century America stokes my anxiety, not just for America, but for the world. And I know I’m not alone. Everywhere I see signs that people deeply sense that the daily bombardment of news, trivia, politics, entertainment, consumerism, advertising and propaganda has blotted out a deeper wisdom we once possessed, and that the consequences are disastrous. Put biblically:
That’s the doctrine; all the rest is commentary. The Spectacle’s music videos, live performances, screenings, discussion guides, website and blog drill down to the topics that infuse this commentary, as illustrated in The Spectacle Trailer:
It’s not for nothing that Rabbi Hillel concluded his one-footed sermon “Now go and study.” If ‘we the people’ are not to perish, there must be vision. There can be no vision in darkness. Awareness remains the crucial ingredient for creating a tolerant, equitable, sustainable society, and our best chance to oppose the cult of death that reigns in the form of a vast Military – Industrial – Congressional – Prison – Financial – Pharmacological Complex, defended—nay glorified—by a mainstream media nestled within the same infrastructure and sharing the same incestuous corporate ties.
REVOLUTION IN CONSCIOUSNESS
If not now, when?
Martin Luther King Jr. taught that in a dehumanizing and materialistic technological society, only a revolution in consciousness can reverse James Baldwin’s prophecy and transform unreality into reality, arrogant false innocence into reflective atonement, and moral monstrosity into empathy and love. I don’t know that such a spiritual regeneration is possible. I also don’t know that it’s impossible. On my best days, that sliver of uncertainty inspires the will to keep trying.
Hillel once more, as relevant to our age as to his own 2,000 years ago:
Now go and study....
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