Last week we talked about how every model of civilization needs shared fictions that shape its norms, its economy and its accepted customs. And we stressed that it is key that there is a broad consensus around these fictions. And several readers stressed that the film The forest of M. Night Shymalan it embodied, in addition to those mentioned, that reinterpretation of the platonic cave.
But it embodies something else: it embodies the extent to which these fictions are essential and vulnerable. Therefore, to what extent the social order, the economy and even the exercise of power can be ephemeral. Sometimes, with a single member of the community disbelieving, as in Shyamalan’s film with the young blind woman walking ivy (bryce dallas howard), everything falls apart.
In The endless storyof the recently disappeared Wolfgang Petersenthe answer to the main mystery, why the Nothing that is swallowing the realm of Fantasy, is nothing more than the skepticism of human societies and the remedy is as simple as dreaming again and believing in wonders. In the denouement, the Childlike Empress (Tami Stronach) explains to bastian (barrett oliver) that to refound Fantasia, it is enough to give it a new name. Religious and philosophical traditions, but also political theory, are well aware of the demiurgic power that resides in the act of naming. It is enough to stop saying “crime of passion” and talk about “macho violence” for a world to begin to die and another to be born. “If you build it, he will come,” she told kevin costner a cornfield in the naive and moving field of dreamsof Phil AldenRobinson.
In the exciting final scene of Dead poets societyof weir peterwe see how the power of a rigorous school principal dissolves when the students in a class simply stop respecting his authority and climb on a table while he rants. The story of The emperor’s new suit very eloquently synthesizes how an authoritarian society is articulated and to what extent it is vulnerable to a single dissent, as we saw in The forest. It is enough for a child to shout that the emperor is naked for an entire world to come crashing down. Authority resides with those who believe in it.
To the mischievous Norwegian filmmaker Ruben Ostlund he loves playing with that simple dramatic mechanism of cracking some convention and watching the world burn. For example in Squarean entire order of bourgeois conventions is shaken when an artist takes a performance a little beyond the consensual, while another convention, the family, is blown up in the film Force Majeureby the fortuitous and inconvenient reaction of one of its members.
But in democratic societies, the system is less vulnerable to the extent that most of the functional fictions are supported by the majority and coexist with dissent without being destroyed by them. Even the founding myths can be revised to generate consensus on higher quality fiction. That is the ultimate meaning of the laws of Memory: to agree on a conventional reading of the past that replaces another also conventional and that is more useful to the ethics of the present. For that there are movies like JFK, cold caseof Oliver Stone, Australiaof Baz Luhrmaneither while the war lastsof Alejandro Amenabarto regulate our agreements. Who died at Balmoral was only queen by virtue of how many people believed she was, and this may explain the silence of the Spanish CIS on the matter. So sensitive are the conventions.
And the same functioning has the economy, especially the financial one, based on the fact that there is (and therefore can be used) a money that does not yet exist. It is enough for a certain number of subjects to stop believing in that fictitious value and sell their shares for that money to vanish and a listed company lose all its value, as we saw in the big betof Adam McKay.
But in authoritarian systems, the power vested in the faith of the subjects is greater than in democratic ones because shared fictions, such as who is in charge, have not been subjected to scrutiny and cannot coexist with their dissent. And that is why Ibrahim Raisi Y Vladimir Putin they are busy repressing people on the streets of Tehran and Moscow.