It’s a new year – but time has broken in America. Can we recover from this?

Happy New Year. I hope you let loose “Auld Lang Syne” and his other songs for relief and distraction – and maybe lamentation too.

As 2022 begins, we face growing fascism, global climate catastrophe, a relentless plague, extreme inequality, and many other existential troubles.

Fascism remains a killer in the mind, a destroyer of truth and reality, seeking to remake them in its own image. In our current state of malign reality, Joe Biden may be president, but the influence of Donald Trump’s malice persists. We need wisdom to guide us through this state of confusion and pain. This is literary critic Michiko Kakutani, in a 2018 essay for the Guardian:

There is no easy remedy, but it is essential that citizens defy the skepticism and resignation upon which autocrats and power-hungry politicians depend to overthrow resistance. . There are no generally agreed events – neither Republican events nor Democratic events; no substitute truths of today’s silo world – there can be no reasonable debate about policies, no substantive means of evaluating candidates for political office, and no way so that elected officials are accountable to the people. Without truth, democracy is lame.

Hannah Arendt, in her essential work “The Origins of Totalitarianism”, wrote that before autocrats “seized power to match reality with their lies, the Their propaganda is marked by extreme disdain for such truths, for, in their opinion, reality depends entirely on the power of man able to create it.” another point in the same piece, Arendt gives this warning:

In an ever-changing, unfathomable world, the masses have reached the point of simultaneously believing in everything and nothing, thinking that everything is possible and nothing is true. … [U]Under such conditions, one day people can make people believe the most wonderful claims, and believe that if the next day they are presented with irrefutable proof of their falsehoods. themselves, they will give in to skepticism; Instead of abandoning the leaders who lied to them, they will protest that they already know all that the claim is a lie and will admire the leaders for their superior tactical intelligence. .

She wrote in response to the regimes of Hitler and Stalin, but that wisdom is still valid, nearly 80 years later.

Fascism is an attack on reality, and in a sense an attempt to circumvent time. Time is not simply measured in seconds, minutes, hours, days, months and years. It is also temporality: the meaning we give to time and our perception of it.

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There’s so much going on right now, but it still feels like nothing has changed; doom loop is permanent. With these ongoing crises – be it political, economic, environmental, social, personal or existential – there is a common sense that anything can happen at any time.

For many, the sense of predictability has been lost. They feel no attachment to space and time. In many ways, the American people as a whole are experiencing a waking dream. For some, indeed for many, it is a nightmare.

There is also a sense that America is faced with what the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci has described as a “space,” a moment in between “the old world is dying and the new world is struggling to survive.” was born. Now is the time of monsters.”

“Such moments of crisis pose a fundamental challenge to the way individuals think about their role in society,” as I wrote in an earlier essay by Salon:

When a society’s landmarks are erased and its pointers or guiding lights uprooted from the sky, a collective confusion and disorientation – even madness – can exist. Basic questions of personal identity come to the fore: Who am I in this moment? How do I understand it all? Will I even survive? Am I outdated? Does my life have meaning?

To varying degrees and in different ways, these kinds of questions are being asked by both elites and the American people. There are no easy answers but the stakes are high: America’s choice between fascism and freedom.

Ultimately, there is something deeply wrong in America. We’ve known that for a long time. Many people feel helpless because of that ubiquitous presence. That is the way of hegemony in a society besieged by neo-fascism and other anti-human and anti-social forces.

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In a post on (a sci-fi website), Emmet Asher-Perrin transmits this energy in a critical essay on the new film “Matrix Resurrections”:

“Resurrections” finally tells us the story of what happens in the aftermath, and it does so with a terrifyingly accurate measure of our weaknesses, both real and existential. . How many people would actually take that red pill, if given the chance? How easy are we to manipulate, coerce, to be complacent even when there is truth? And why, despite all of that, do so many of us know that there is something very wrong with the current state of things? …

It’s ironic when Neo is told, it’s unlikely he’ll have to fight for his right to life this time around. And indeed he had to fight – but not in the way anyone was expecting. It’s a state that roughly reflects where most of us are at the moment, if we’re the type to admit that we exist in unsustainable circumstances.

To perpetuate such a state of anger and helplessness, fascists like Donald Trump and his followers are using political weapons known as “masochism” to hurt the public. Sadopulism is part of a feedback loop where the fascists and their minions create pain that they then promise to provide a cure. The cycle continues until the fascist movement is destroyed or it destroys the society that harbors it – or most likely both.

Psychologists and other researchers have detailed how Social feelings about disfiguring pain and trauma how individuals and groups perceive time and reality. Writing at Psychology Today, Clinical psychologist Cynthia Baum-Baicker explains, in an article published last fall:

Our sense of time is off. It seems to have disappeared even though the structure of the minute-hour-date remains the same. Suspended as it moves, why does the present seem isolated from the continuum of time? The reasons lie beyond changes to our daily routine and structure COVID-19 forged.

The invisible threat of COVID-19 and the upcoming presidential election is a one-of-a-kind punch to our sense of security. We no longer have vain assumptions that the future is predictable and predictable. Who will get sick? What will happen to our democracy? Will there be a peaceful transfer of power? Researchers have found that without illusions of a foreseeable future, we tend to live more in the present moment. And our present moment – the very thing that fills the void of the unknown future – is filled with tension.

The altered perception of time is known as “time disintegration” or “time discontinuity” and has been shown to be associated with mood states. … Unlike hearing, seeing or tasting, the sense of time is not controlled by a specific sense organ but is “embodied” in a more holistic way. It has been shown to be encoded in bodily signals controlled by the stroma, a piece of cortex located deep within each lobe of the brain. Time completely embraces us because it lives in our brains.

Unconscious psychological defenses can also contribute to altering our sense of time. In a state of overwhelm, the defenses of dissociation often kick in unconsciously. Dissociation is the feeling here and not here simultaneously. This unreal sense of time is analogous to an electrical system overheating under overload. In an active system, overheating will trip the breaker before it overheats. Dissociation helps us in times of intense stress – overload – to stay as functional as possible.

Given that we’re living in a collective trauma, is it any wonder so many of us are experiencing disruptions in time?

On New Year’s Eve, as I usually do, I reflect on the past year. I also offer some hope for next year. I went out in the middle of the night and howled at the moon, as I did for years. It’s like saying goodbye to this year gone by in order to have some moments of relief for all of our individual and collective frustrations with the state of America and the world. Problems are not necessarily as bad as they are. If a society lives this way, it is because it has made a choice.

I have told friends and family that I love and appreciate them. As the saying goes, I believe in giving flowers to people while they are still alive.

Like millions of other Americans, I watched the “Twilight Zone” marathon on New Year’s Eve. Over the past few years, I’ve asked myself so many times, what is Rod Serling going to do with this moment, with his genius, moral clarity, and truth about injustice, evil, and secrets? hidden human condition?

I ended my New Year’s Eve by watching one of my favorite episodes of “Babylon 5,” J. Michael Straczynski’s classic sci-fi series. At the end of the episode “Z’ha’dum.” Andreas Katsulas, who portrayed the character Gkar, gives the following monologue:

All around me … it was as if the universe was holding its breath. Wait.

All life can be broken down into transitions or moments … of revelation. This has the feeling of both… There is a darkness greater than the one we fight. It is the darkness of the soul it has lost its way.

The war we fight is not against main powers and powers. It resists chaos …and despair.

Greater than the death of the flesh is the death of hope. The death of dreams. In the face of this peril, we can never surrender.

The future is all around us. Waiting in the moment of transition born in moments of revelation. No one knows the shape of that future or where it will take us. We just know that it is always born in pain.

The American people face a reckoning. They will have to make a decision about whether they will surrender to neo-Nazis or purge it and the swamps in which it thrives. There is a great challenge and paradox to overcome in such a decision: We are running out of time – having lost its full meaning over the past few years.

This year could be one of the most important in American history, along with the Civil War, World War II, and the tumultuous years of the 1960s, which saw America’s third founding. “in the triumph of the civil rights movement and the Black Struggle for Freedom. The American people were prepared to endure the pain of having to find themselves again, after becoming lost in time during their final years. Or are too many of them now accepting this state of loss and brokenness as the new normal?

The year 2022 will bring us the answers, for better or for worse.

Read more about America’s “fash” moment:–but-time-is-broken-in-america-can-we-recover-from-this/ It’s a new year – but time has broken in America. Can we recover from this?

Huynh Nguyen

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