Sunday, June 29, 2008

There was no Murder in the Cathedral: On Tim Russert, Ruslana, and all the rest


The Parapolitical Mind (is there one?)--Why did the Kazakh supermodel fall to her death? No, this wasn't because of the bear market mini-crash (mini?!) this week. It's clear--even though there's no evidence whatsoever--that Kazakh supermodel Ruslana Korshunova was murdered by the United States Government. So was Tim Russert--or at least according to the predictable crop of banal paranoid-schizophrenics who are pronouncing it.

"But," they will say, "Her life was fine, she was successful and had so much to live for." Says you. Methinks thou dost protest too much. What's good for the goose isn't necessarily good for the gander, but nobody's silly enough to claim this was a case of defenstration yet:

Witnesses described seeing her plunge from a ninth-floor balcony in the building on Saturday afternoon.

Local media, citing police sources, said there was no sign of a struggle inside her apartment and that Korshunova was believed to have leaped to her death.

A friend told The New York Post, however, that Korshunova had just returned from a modeling job in Paris and seemed "on top of the world."

"There were no signs," the unidentified friend was quoted as saying. "I don't see one reason why she would do that."("Kazakh Model in Suicide Plunge," Reuters UK, 06.29.2008)

These are the same kind of observations I kept getting around the time that Jeane Palfrey committed suicide--that's suicide, not murdered. But we're all credulous about something, and we've all made those wild leaps in our lives. God knows this writer has. It's just that some of us do it nearly every single time someone famous dies, or when it doesn't fit our personal--even national--mythologies. Anti-authoritarians, take-note: not everything is state-sponsored.

When overweight press lapdog Tim Russert died of a heart attack, the response was involuntary for some of us, just as it was with the Palfrey suicide and a gauntlet of others over the decades. If you follow the pseudo-logic of these paranoid-schizophrenic reactionaries who populate the internet, nearly everyone who ever died in human history was murdered by the United States Government, even before there was one.

Yes, there is a humorous side to all of this.

Why am I writing about this? The answer is simple: being involved in the Palfrey affair has brought me into contact with this kind of peculiar social animal--the sensationalist kook who claims to "have the facts," like Obama accuser Larry Sinclair. Self-deception is a mental game we've all played. These claimants never do have the "facts," just lies, half-truths, innuendo, high talk, and self-serving delusion. They aren't alone. Just look at the millions who still believe the war in Iraq and Afghanistan is legitimate. Why do they--we--do it? Why do we deceive ourselves? A look at the worst of us is in order.

Many of these individuals are washed-up hustlers like Larry Sinclair, or Alex Jones, and they see an opening in a scandal, especially when someone controversial and famous dies. Simply-put, they smell money. Others just wish to believe something that makes easier sense of a very complicated modern reality. Others simply cannot face a horrible personal reality. Some might be a combination of both, like Kathleen Willey, an accuser of the Clintons:

According to Willey, during a meeting in the private study off the Oval Office, Clinton embraced her, kissed her on the mouth and fondled her breast. She also claimed he placed her hand on his crotch.

Clinton denied ever assaulting Willey in the incident which allegedly took place five years before the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Willey never gave evidence to a Clinton's impeachment trial after some members of the House and Senate refused to allow her to testify.

On the same night the alleged assault took place in November 1993, Willey's husband Ed died from a single gunshot wound.

The Virginia lawyer was over £300,000 in debt and had embezzled money from a client.

He left a suicide note in which he apologised for running up the debts, and also a $100 lottery ticket for his wife.

Willey claims in her book that the autopsy on her husband failed to show it was suicide. ("Hillary Clinton faces sensational claims from another woman in Bill's past, The Daily Mail, 11.07.2007)

As you can tell, the widowed Mrs. Willey has a very real motive in constructing a fantasy narrative that obscures the obvious reasons behind the untimely suicide of her husband Edward, an inarguably fallen attorney (sound familiar?). It's possible she was involved in his road to ruin. Who knows? It's likely that Willey doesn't remember much of the run-up to her husband's suicide at all.

If we're honest with ourselves, we have to question her integrity and credibility, as well as her sanity. Did Clinton assault her? There's no solid evidence of this, only her claims, and we all know how well that holds-up in a courtroom. Actually, it sounds a lot like recovered memory, or more accurately, false memory syndrome.

Human memory works in some very funny ways. Our minds often protect themselves from threatening experiences and memories by editing or altering them. Nation states are no exception to this, being an amalgamation of millions of individuals. Our memory is not infallible, which is the reason why eyewitness testimony in courtrooms doesn't merit much credibility. And of course, we all tend to believe what we want to believe. These are the shortcomings of subjective experience.

The only way to prove a memory is through corroboration, as there is a human tendency to believe the impossible, and to miss what's right there in front of us. Memory is fallible, but there's more at work. We tend to move towards that which we wish to believe:

There is no use in multiplying examples. The point is that we are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.
When one looks at the all-prevailing schizophrenia of democratic societies, the lies that have to be told for vote-catching purposes, the silence about major issues, the distortions of the press, it is tempting to believe that in totalitarian countries there is less humbug, more facing of the facts. There, at least, the ruling groups are not dependent on popular favour and can utter the truth crudely and brutally. Goering could say ‘Guns before butter’, while his democratic opposite numbers had to wrap the same sentiment up in hundreds of hypocritical words. (George Orwell, "In Front of Your Nose," Tribune, 03.22.1946)

And so on. Yet, that aforementioned "source"who's only tangential to the Palfrey case is unlikely to change their opinion that the DC Madam was murdered. Never mind that there's no evidence of foul play: according to them, everything points to it, and all madams who go public who are found dead are murder victims. Some of this is because it's in their interest to hold this view. Just ask Larry Flynt.

The problem: there's no corroboration that Palfrey was murdered, and none is likely to be forthcoming. Not for Palfrey, not for Tim Russert, and not for Ruslana Korshunova. Just because we want some kind of notoriety or big payday doesn't mean it's true. This creature is everywhere on the internet, and lurking within all of us. It's the tendency towards individual and mass psychosis, often the prime-mover--if not a central cause--of social upheaval.

Don't believe it? Before the American Revolution, many colonists felt moved towards revolt against the Crown because they believed it was part of a Catholic conspiracy to topple their liberties. Pamphlets and handbills sold the story, just as the internet is today. As we now know, this "Papist conspiracy" was a phantasm, but it aided in mobilizing the mob towards revolt.

On the suicide of Ruslana Korshunova, Reuters UK, 06.29.2008: http://uk.reuters.com/article/mediaNews/idUKB65890320080629

"Hillary Clinton faces sensational claims from another woman in Bill's past, The Daily Mail, 11.07.2007: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-492205/Hillary-Clinton-faces-sensational-claims-woman-Bills-past.html

A gaggle of disturbed people positing that Tim Russert was murdered (sans evidence): http://www.rumormillnews.com/cgi-bin/forum.cgi?noframes;read=126372

The False Memory Syndrome Foundation: http://www.fmsfonline.org/

George Orwell, "In Front of Your Nose," Tribune, 03.22.1946: http://www.orwell.ru/library/articles/nose/english/e_nose

Revised, 06.30.2008