Wednesday, April 6, 2011


"Civilization is like a thin layer of ice upon a deep ocean of chaos and darkness."- Werner Herzog

"Cash rules everything around me, C.R.E.A.M., get the money, dollar dollar bill, y'all!"- Wu Tang Clan

If you think it looks like a horror movie... you would be correct, semantically speaking

 Those two quotes are a couple of my favorites - one being from a legendary filmmaker who has seen the world and knows what is capable in the best and worst (usually the worst) in man, and the other being from a Wu-Tang Clan song in the usual rapper way of gettin rich or dyin' tryin' - and they both came up while watching the sobering and shocking documentary Collapse, which is essentially a one-man-show ala The Fog of War with a man who says that the world will come to end.  That is, the way that we know it.

The subject in question is Michael Ruppert, a man who started out as a Republican LAPD officer in the 1970's, and in the intervening thirty years was asked to join the CIA, sort of, and saw drug deals from South America coming in to the US under their supervision (whistle blower), and then became an investigative journalist who has written books, published a newsletter available to Congress, and has little by little (or in the past ten years especially quickly) seen through his research and in just having two brain cells to rub together that the human race is in deep, dark trouble.

But hey, nevermind all that - he's SMOKING! ahh!

He calls up those two quotes in his talk to the camera and director Chris Smith (of the great American Movie) - about how fragile civilization really is based around the world's dependency on oil, for everything really (not just the gas you put into your car but the car itself, the engine, the tires, etc), how we use energy, and for the second quote how much we are based around a really fucked system of money.  Nevermind that Ruppert predicted the financial crisis of 2008- he wasn't quite the only one, though he did have one of the clearest voices in it- but that he states, without a moment for BS or cynicism, that the system of money not just America practices (i.e the Fiat currency, or the other kind that has to do with gambling on money in the banks) but around the world will collapse.

And why not, one might think?  Based on how much money there is to borrow or take out, or even to print, money at some point will just stop dead in its tracks.  But this is based moreso around the more general thesis regarding energy: aside from Solar and Wind, according to Ruppert, who has his own reservations about how good those can work, no other energy ideal at present can work, and oil will, sooner rather than later, just run out despite what politicians say about oil reserves in Alaska or the Middle East or whathaveyou.  It's a system that is further broken, one recognizes (if not learns), from Ruppert since it's also put alongside population growth, which has skyrocketed since the industrial (OIL) revolution began over a hundred years ago.  So, depleting oil + mass populations going past 7 billion + a broken financial system that Bush and Cheney helped make and that Obama is prisoner to = The Horror.

Sorry, Plainview, there's less milkshake to come in the collapse of society

So, what to do about it?  Frankly, Ruppert says, not that much.  He doesn't give a specific date and time, only that it will be more gradual than one can expect.  One of the more terrifying prospects he states is that society, oddly enough, will collapse not all at once but gradually, as we lose resources like food ("You'll have water for a few years," he also states deadpan), and that people will have to figure out a new way to live.  It's nothing short of the end of civilization much the same way it came for the dinosaurs after a time, who when they roamed were their self-made "rulers" of the planet.  Maybe become a self-sufficient farmer, though don't count on the soil all the time, he says, and maybe look to Cuba(!) to understand how to really get by by using the land instead of companies and horribly-mass-made agriculture, which has further fucked the planet.

Some of this may sound crazy, the rantings of a guy on the fringe who writes a stupid column in a paper.  But there was only a few times that I sensed anything 'off' about Ruppert - once especially in a paranoid moment where he says that Cheney and Rumsfeld personally kept a close eye on him and followed him due to his research and writings - and that his arguments are based around facts that you and I know, or should know by this point anyway (oil has been a big issue for quite some time in this sense, and the financial system I don't have to expound on further), save perhaps for the stuff about agriculture.  And for a while he seems pretty clear and cold in his talk to the camera, sometimes done interrotron style like Errol Morris.  But what's so chilling is that Smith's questions back at him are answered, mostly with clarity and thought behind everything said.  And when Ruppert finally breaks down emotionally, we can see why.

Collapse fills one with imminent dread, and Ruppert's own comparison to civilizations and societies being like the three kinds of people on the Titanic - those who were 'deer-in-headlights' who won't know what to do, the sheeple if you will, the 'well, what can we do? let's make life-boats' crowd, and those who go back to the bar and go 'screw it, I don't care what you say, gimme a drink' as the boat sinks ever so quickly - and as well about the 5 stages of grief coming into play with societies, not just people.  This is one of the parts that made the most sense to me; over the past couple of years, maybe moreso since the election of Obama, it's become a nation that's angry about something, anything, even if it's not anything worth getting angry about or, of course, because of religion.  At the moment, he says, we're in the second stage of anger, which is a tough part to get through before finally reaching acceptance, the fifth stage.

Next summer, see Michael Ruppert in "Inception 2: CHAOS REIGNS" where he goes into the minds of as many people he can to try to tell them how fucked we all are in our dreams, planting the idea is all

Ruppert is a man kind of at a crossroads between anger (mostly at the assholes in charge who won't do shit to really change energy policy in a meaningful way, or those who just say he's nuts without listening to what he has to say) and acceptance (he now spends his days retired, listening and playing music, and walking his dog).  I have to wonder if he goes between states of Lewis Black-style "WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU, CIVILIZATION!" and more serenity at the fact that, if nothing else to him, there's little else to do about it.

But one thing is for certain, I couldn't look away from him, or dismiss him.  Seeing and hearing him talk in this film is akin to that whole scene in JFK where Garrison meets with Sutherland's Mr. X - there's a lot of speculation, but a lot of truth put in there in the supposed nuttiness; a man who has gone through much in life, a lot of eye-opening consciousness expansion, to get to where he's at with, at least to him if not more, indisputable facts (hence why he doesn't debate in the media).  Even when he could come apart at the seams he pulls it back in with stuff that is hard to refute: energy, food, money, things that we need, things that will tear us down bit by bit. 

Bottom line, if you're not chilled to the bone by this film, or filled with an even deeper-than-Woody-Allen sense of 'the sky is falling' existentialism, I don't know what to do for you.  That the film, I almost neglected to mention, is shot with striking use of light and shadows, in what looks like a boiler room, and with excellent montage use of footage of cars, highways, the occasional chart and oil and industry, is another triumph of filmmaking for Smith as a documentarian.

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