Mind Control in the Music Industry

February 22, 2012 § 38 Comments

By Tai Carmen

“As an artist, I think delusion is the greatest gift that you can bear.” ~ Lady Gaga 

You’re not supposed to take pop music seriously. By definition, it is fluff; pure sugar. But sugar, sweet and insubstantial as it is, can be a dangerous thing.

Music is a powerful force. And pop music holds great influence over the masses. It’s worth noticing, then, what kind of messages are being broadcast to our minds via the pop music industry.

As the slew of buzzing conspiracy sites can attest to, there has been a distinct and disturbing trend in the pop music imagery of the past several years, which propagates the glamorization of mind control themes.

Whether it’s Lady Gaga portraying an insane asylum through a high fashion lens in “Marry the Night,” or Britney Spears posing as a laboratory marionette with tubes coming out of her bandaged fingers in “Hold it Against Me,” pop stars are all pumping out the same recycled slew of mind control themes.

Many people may not realize that the practice of trauma-based mind control has a very real and chilling history in the US: in the 1950s and 60s the CIA conducted covert and illegal experiments on unwitting citizens, now declassified and known as project MK ULTRA.

If you’re not familiar with this subject, be prepared to discover a disturbing facet of American history. The image below is shocking—it’s the only photographic image online from the MK Ultra files, most of which have been destroyed—but I offer it under due consideration to substantiate the argument that conspiracy theories of trauma-based mind control are not so far fetched.

The published evidence indicates that Project MK ULTRA was a government-funded operation created with the goal of studying various methods of mind control, using the surreptitious administration of drugs and other chemicals, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, isolation, verbal and sexual abuse, as well as various forms of torture.

Project MK ULTRA was first brought to public attention in 1975 by the U.S. Congress, through investigations by the Church Committee, and by a presidential commission known as the Rockefeller Commission.

Although the CIA insists that MK ULTRA-type experiments have been abandoned, 14-year CIA veteran Victor Marchetti has stated in various interviews that the CIA routinely conducts disinformation campaigns and that CIA mind control research continues. In a 1977 interview, Marchetti called the CIA claim that MK ULTRA was abandoned “a cover story.”  (Project MK-ULTRA.)

So why does the fashion and music industry glamorize these atrocities? The question, complete with spooky implication, remains. But that such themes recur with bizarre and increasing regularity, should be of interest, not just to conspiracy buffs, but to every thinking citizen.

According to experts, one of the consequences of trauma-based mind control is the creation of several different personalities, called alter egos. This deliberate compartmentalization and fragmentation of the whole person allows for more control over the subject/victim: one alter ego, for instance, could hide something from another. So, in theory, a “dark” alter ego could be created to carry out actions distasteful to the dominant personality.

Considering this, it’s odd to note how many celebrity recording artists have publicly discussed their “alters” as though it were the most natural thing in the world.

“This alter ego takes over when I am on stage. She is really wild and daring and a much more impulsive performer than I am. Her name is Britannia. When I am her I feel I can take on the world, normally I am pretty shy.” ~ Britney Spears

“Slim Shady is just the evil thoughts that come into my head, things I shouldn’t be thinking about.” ~ Eminem

“I had to separate the two because Mary is nice, you know, intelligent. Brook-Lynn is crazy and ignorant and she don’t care.” ~ Mary J. Blithe

“I have someone else that takes over when it’s time for me to work and when I’m on stage, this alter ego that I’ve created that kind of protects me and who I really am. When I’m onstage I’m aggressive and strong and not afraid of my sexuality. The tone of my voice gets different, and I’m fearless. I’m just a different person.” ~ Beyonce

The Beyonce/Sasha Fierce phenomenon has been particularly driven home, as can be experienced during this odd footage glamorizing the splitting of personalties, shown at a Beyonce concert.

Notice the two Beyonces are quite obviously divided into “pure/innocent/good-in-a-boring-way” Beyonce and “sexy/corrupt/dark/bad-in-a-good-way” Beyonce. The coin symbolism is quite clear as well: two sides of the same coin; black & white polarization. Obviously, the former is portrayed as a goody-two-shoes and a wimp, and the vixen wins our favor with her superior, fierce fashion and high-powered queenly self-possession. We can hardly help but feel our sympathies allied with the dark Beyonce, aka Sasha Fierce. But who is Sasha Fierce?

“Many years ago,” Beyonce explained to the press, “I named my alter ego Sasha and it’s something that stuck. So when I was trying to decide the title of my album… I realized it had two different sounds. One represented who I really am and one sounded like my alter ego, so I decided to split it into two. Because I feel like Sasha is a big treat for my fans. It’s definitely exciting being able to have an excuse to be so over the top.”

Anyone with knowledge of psychology knows that splitting the personality into “good” and “bad” is an unhealthy coping mechanism.

“Splitting can be seen as a developmental stage and as a defense mechanism. In psychoanalysis, there are the concepts of splitting of the self as well as splitting of the ego. This stems from existential insecurity, or instability of one’s self-concept. The borderline personality is not able to integrate the good and bad images of both self and others, so that people who suffer from borderline personality disorder have a bad representation which dominates the good representation.” (Splitting.)

As humans we have both positive and negative impulses. We should foster self-acceptance and positive action, not internal division. To promote compartmentalizing, rather than integrating, these conflicting inner aspects is to advocate a problematic road.

“What I feel onstage,” says Beyonce, “I don’t feel anywhere else. It’s an out-of-body experience. I created my stage persona … so that when I go home, I don’t have to think about what it is I do. Sasha isn’t me. The people around me know who I really am.”

It seems odd for the singer to describe wanting to “forget what it is she does,” as if it were something dirty. And the description of feeling outside of her body, while channeling a personality she has described in interviews as “someone I wouldn’t want to meet on the street,” sounds notably dissociative.

It’s understandable why so many demonic possession threads surround the singer. Beyonce went from the girl next door to a vixen sporting satanic goat skull imagery overnight. Now she has told press: “Sasha is done. I killed her.”

These sound more like the words of a troubled teen than a world-renowned performer in her thirties. And troubled teens everywhere are hanging on her every word.

Nicki Minaj, known for her brash style, multiple wigs and personalities, describes her alter ego “Roman Zolanksi” as a “crazy boy who lives in me and says the things that I don’t want to say. He was born just a few months ago. I think he was born out of rage. He was conceived in rage. So he bashes everyone. He threatens to beat people and he’s violent.”

The interviewer, of course, treats all of this like it’s perfectly normal and even funny, despite Nicki’s strangely expressionless delivery: “That must be nice,” he says off camera, “to have, like, an ignorent loud mouth so you can just sort of blame every–” Nicki Interjects: “He wants to be blamed. I don’t want to blame him. I ask him to leave. But he can’t. He’s here for a reason. People have brought him out. People conjured him up and now he won’t leave.

The fact that she concludes another interview by snarling demonically and proclaiming that “anybody who ever doubted Roman is going down in a coffin” is seen by the world as harmless theatre. More recently she has been quoted as saying that Roman is her favorite of all her different personalities because  “everybody else started to like Roman, so he became my favorite.”

In a recent interview with Ryan Seacrest, Minaj details creepily:  “He wanted to show that not only is he amazing, but he’s never going to be exorcised, even when they throw holy water on him, he still rises above.”

That the scratchy-voiced singer chanting “Take your medication, Roman! Take a long vacation, Roman!” while handcuffed to an upright table, electroshock -style, and surrounded by hooded figures has been touted by the press as a “show stealer” at the recent Grammy Awards ceremony shows the sad state of pop music today. (She has called the performance “Roman’s coming out party.”) That she is shouting “Stop! Get me out of here!” in the beginning of the performance is emblematic of a troubling trend.

Electroshock therapy imagery is everywhere these days. It’s hard to find a Lady Gaga video without it. She skirts the issue in “Yoü and I,” a video fraught with mind control imagery and multiple selves, including Gaga’s recent alter ego, a greasy Italian dude she calls “Jo Calterdone.” In interviews she says the video is about “the crazy things people will do for love.” She explains the weird scenes in the barn, when her lover straps her down by the wrists and ankles to an upright table, as being about her “mad scientist boyfriend turning her into a mermaid.”

But throwing in fanciful ideas like mermaids doesn’t change the undeniably disturbing nature of being strapped down in a barn and experimented on; adding the fact that the mad scientist is supposed to be her character’s boyfriend only ups the creep factor.

And why is the version of Gaga narrating the conclusion wearing weird straps and wires on her jaw like it’s the latest trend?

You might recognize this look from the earlier MK ULTRA image (echoed quite directly in the image of Gaga at the top of this post.) But this video is about the crazy things we do for love, right?

The shock pop star’s video “Marry the Night” starts out in a Girl Interrupted-style insane asylum, where Lady Gaga is being wheeled in on a gurney in post-surgical garb after apparently having had her spine removed. The voiceover notes:

“When I look back on my life, it’s not that I don’t want to see things exactly as they happened. It’s just that I prefer to remember them in an artistic way. And truthfully, the lie of it all is much more honest because I invented it. Clinical psychology tells us arguably that trauma is the ultimate killer. Memories are not recycled like atoms and particles in quantum physics. They can be lost forever. It’s sort of like my past is an unfinished painting and as the artist of that painting I must fill in all the ugly holes and make it beautiful again. It’s not that I’ve been dishonest, it’s just that I loath reality.”

Later, looking wearily up at her nurse, a traumatized-looking Gaga says she is going to be a star, because she has “nothing left to lose.”

“See the girl to your left?” she asks the viewer as the nurses wheel her into a spooky psychiatric ward of half-naked, tranced out, trouble women…”She ordered gummy bears and a knife a couple hours ago. They only gave her the gummy bears. I wish they’d only given me the gummy bears.”

Gaga has told press that the video is intended for ‘art to imitate life’ and depict her journey to stardom. For those wondering what left Gaga so traumatized on that journey, MTV.com has the artist’s official answer: “The video is a metaphor for how she felt when she was dropped from her first record label, Island Def Jam, before landing at her current home at Interscope.”

A statement that leaves us wondering exactly what that transition from Def Jam to Interscope entailed!

(click to read Part 2)

Polarity and Paradox: Black and White Thinking in a Rainbow World

February 8, 2012 § 27 Comments

By Tai Carmen

escher_sky_water“Sky & Water” by M.C. Escher

“To offer the leadership and vision our times require as individuals, professionals, change agents in any domain, and even as spiritual leaders, wisdom dictates we move beyond unconscious polarization – not just intellectually, but in the very words we speak and the actions we take.” ~ Ragini Elizabeth Michaels 

“[T]he thinker without the paradox is like the lover without passion” ~ Soren Kierkegaard

“To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind.”
~ Jianzhi Sengcan

From an evolutionary standpoint, it makes sense to think in terms of black and white.

If one extreme presents itself, such as a predator, it’s logical to put as much space between you and that danger as possible, to go the opposite direction. It makes sense to label the saber tooth tiger “unsafe” and the cave where he can’t reach you “safe.” In situations so basic, locations which are “somewhat safe” are ineffective to ponder.

But we no longer live in an age where this kind of thinking serves us. In fact, the cognitive distortion brought on by viewing a complex world through the simplistic lens of “this or that,” “all or nothing,” “either/or,” can harm relationships, diminish well-being and limit our overall understanding of the world. In viewing a multi-faceted situation through a binary lens we are bound to miss essential details.

In the modern era the ability to perceive nuance, ambiguity and paradox is considered the height of cognitive vitality. Finding balance between seemingly contradictory elements is believed by many to be the road to inner peace.

Language itself promotes dualistic thinking. ‘Difficult’ and ‘easy’ define each other. What would ‘calm’ mean without ‘anxious?’ ‘Up’ makes ‘down’ distinguishable.

Even the simplest, most everyday question — “How are you?” — pressures us to pick a side. If, for whatever combination of reasons, our focus happens to be on the pleasant, enjoyable, fulfilling aspects of our lives that day, we will likely answer, “good!”

If, for whatever combination of reasons, our attention has been brought to the difficult, frustrating, undesirable aspects of our lives, we may say the social equivalent of “bad” (“not so good,” “seen better days,” etc.)

Yet, our lives at all times contain both pleasant and challenging aspects. What has changed, more often than not, on the days we say “good” from the “I’ve had better” days is simply our focus.

Middle ground responses will likely provoke an interpretation veering towards the negative. For instance responding with a shrug, “So-so,” “I’m okay,” or the unlikely but far more accurate, “I’m both good and bad,” will be read as unspecific and inspire detail pressing. The most honest answer (“I am”) would be considered highly uninformative.

“While we speak to the unity and harmony of the whole as our desired goal,” writes Ragini Elizabeth Michaels in her article “Managing a Paradoxical Life,” “our language itself too often reveals an unconscious choice of one pole of a polar pair as more important, or more right, than the other – spiritual over material, peace over conflict, trust over doubt, unity over diversity, harmony over discord.”

A false dilemma (also called a false dichotomy, or black-and-white thinking) is a type of logical fallacy that involves a situation in which only two alternatives are considered, when in fact there are additional options. (“It wasn’t medicine that cured Mrs. X, so it must be a miracle.”)

Marked by a logical leap and the oversimplification of a more complex matter, a false dichotomy may be presented intentionally, in order to manipulate a perspective (“You’re either with us, or you’re against us,”) or unintentionally, due to an assumption (“He wouldn’t do that if he loved me.”)

Social systems reinforce this kind of polarized thinking. For example, if you want to identify with a political party of any influence in the United States you have two choices: either you can identify as pro-peace, pro-gay, pro-tax, pro-regulation, pro-choice and anti-gun or pro-military, anti-gay, anti-tax, pro-free market, pro-life and pro-gun.

What if you are pro-gay, pro-free market, anti-tax, pro-life, pro-peace and pro-gun? Too bad. Pick a side or your vote yields no power. Cultural splitting such as this encourages people to think in unnecessarily polarized terms.

In structuralism (the sociological study of cultural context) dividing the world into two opposing categories, known as  binary opposition, is seen as a fundamental organizer of human philosophy, culture, and language (for example, we need the idea of “evil” in order to conceive of the concept of “good.”)

But others (post-structuralists in particular) argue that such binary opposition is often value-laden and ethnocentric.

French philospher Jacques Derrida agrees that binary oppositions often marks “a violent hierarchy” where “one of the two terms governs the other.” For instance, in the West, the idea of presence occupies a position of dominance over absence, because absence is traditionally seen as what you get when you take presence away.

In this way, binary language can be linked with hierarchy and oppression. For instance, male can be seen, according to traditional Western thought, as dominant over female because male is the presence of a phallus, while the vagina is an absence, and therefor seen as a loss.

paradise, m.c. escher“Paradise” by M.C Escher

“Black and white thinking doesn’t just hurt ourselves, but also the relationships we try to build with other people. When we view the world in strict and over-simplistic terms, we are less likely to compromise and cooperate with others to meet common interests,” notes psychology writer Steven Handel.

“We lose in black and white thinking because we are never going to be everything we want to be. We’re always going to be lacking something if we’re trying to measure ourselves on some black-and-white scale where x is good and y is not good. We’re never going to be able to be completely x. It doesn’t happen, because we’re human – we’re unfinished – and we’re not simple.”

“A black and white viewpoint often creates artificial ‘needs’ in our life that lead to disappointment and depression,” continues  Handel, adding that the cognitive-based psychotherapist Albert Ellis called one example of this ‘musterbation.’ “This is our tendency to think that we must have something, or we must do something, or life must be a certain way – or it will be awful.

“Black and white thinking doesn’t open us up to the possibility that even if life doesn’t work out exactly the way we think it should, we can still find happiness.”

Ragini Elizabeth Michaels agrees: “We may think that by eradicating the pole we don’t want, we are creating a non-dual universe, or ‘fixing the problem.’ We may believe that the dilemma, or duality itself, with its conflicts and tensions, will then somehow disappear. Or worse yet, we may begin to perceive the spiritual as the solution to the problems of the material world – which, paradoxically, it is and it is not.

“In contrast, depolarizing the mind frees us to perceive war and peace, anger and compassion, freedom and responsibility, and even duality and non-duality, as partners, and to perceive the friction or tension between them as creativity in disguise. This shift in perception changes everything.”

German philosopher  Hegel saw history as a merging of opposites, creating progress: one viewpoint (the Thesis) merges with another, seemingly polar, viewpoint (the Anti-Thesis,) creating a new entity altogether, the Synthesis. This process is known in philosophy as the Hagelian Dialectic. For Hegel, dialectic tension is inherently creative and capable of union.

Great thinkers have always embraced paradox — looking past black and white simplification into a world where seemingly contradictory forces can co-exist. Kierkegaard said:

“…one must not think ill of the paradox, for the paradox is the passion of thought, and the thinker without the paradox is like the lover without passion: a mediocre fellow. But the ultimate potentiation of every passion is always to will its own downfall, and so it is also the ultimate passion of the understanding to will the collision, although in one way or another the collision must become its downfall. This, then, is the ultimate paradox of thought: to want to discover something that thought itself cannot think.”

In Asian philosophy, the concept of yin yang (referred to in the West as “yin and yang”) describes how seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, giving rise to each other in turn. Yin yang are not opposing forces but complementary opposites that interact within a greater whole.

Paradox is the heart and soul of Zen philosophy.  As Lau-Tzu said, “If you want to become full, let yourself be empty…Look, and it can’t be seen. Listen, and it can’t be heard. Reach, and it can’t be grasped… seamless, unnamable, it returns to the realm of nothing. Form that includes all forms, image without an image, subtle, beyond all conception…You can’t understand it, but you can be it. The Tao is beyond is and is not…”

Next time you find yourself feeling anxious over some perceived reality, take note. Are you making a logical leap that if X is true, then so must Y? Are you boxing yourself or someone else into an all-or-nothing false dilemma, considering only two alternatives where there are many? Ignoring seemingly contradictory aspects in order to create the illusion of a more manageable whole? In the end, the dualistic world view is not more manageable. It is more prone to distortion.

Am I saying to abandon discernment? On the contrary! By releasing preconceived dualistic notions we open ourselves to perceive a greater spectrum.

So take off those black and white glasses and behold the multi-colored world!

Where Am I?

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