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The Empire of Illusion…

1 January 2010 11 Comments

“We ask…to be fed lies. We demand lies. The skillfully
manufactured images and slogans that flood the airwaves
and infect our political discourse mask reality
and we do not protest…”

The worse reality becomes, the less a beleaguered (annoyed)
population wants to hear about it, and the more it
distracts itself
with the squalid pseudo-events of celebrity
break ups, gossip and trivia. These are the debauched
revels of a dying culture.”

“A culture that cannot distinguish between
reality and illusion dies…”


The quotes above come from The Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle by Chris Hedges.

I came across it just the other day when I was with my aunt in this bookstore right outside of Alexandria (in Virginia). It builds on how our society is governed by illusions, and how these illusions are destroying the American mind, American culture and the nation itself.

Just skimming through some of the pages blew my mind, so I sat down with a pen and paper to copy some quotes out of it while we were there. Here’s a few more of them:

“We will either wake up from our state of induced childishness
- where trivia and gossip passes for news and information, where
our goal is not justice but an elusive state of happiness – or continue
our headlong retreat into fantasy.”

Those who cling to fantasy in times of despair and
turmoil inevitably turn to demagogues and charlatans
to entertain and reassure them
, and these demagogues –
as they have throughout history – lead the crowd,
blinded and amused, towards despotism.”

Chris Hedges(Hedges has been a foreign correspondent for over 20 years, working for the New York Times, National Public Radio and more. In 2002, he received the Amnesty International Award for Human Rights Journalism. Check out his Amazon page here.)

The book has 5 chapters, and each chapter covers a different aspect of our societal illusion. Here’s the table of contents:

Ch. 1 – The Illusion of Literacy,
Ch. 2 – The Illusion of Love,
Ch. 3 – The Illusion of Wisdom,
Ch. 4 – The Illusion of Happiness, and
Ch. 5 – The Illusion of America

We were only in the bookstore for a second, so I didn’t get a chance to delve into it like I wanted, but I did read something on the chapter on wisdom. It seemed to be about our education system: how we like to think of ourselves as educated and intelligent, but if you think about it, we’re really not intelligent at all. In actuality, the opposite is true, because the education system inhibits our ability to think critically and independently.

From that chapter comes the following:

The elite universities disdain honest intellectual
, which is by its nature distrustful of authority,
curious, fiercely independent and often subversive.”

“They (the universities) organize learning around
minutely specialized disciplines, narrow answers and rigid
structures designed to produce such answers…”

Here’s an audio clip from Bro. Phil Valentine where he builds on the same thing. It’s from an old-school lecture called “The Mis-education System in America,” and although the quality isn’t that good (because of the equipment available at that time), he still comes with some interesting ideas. Check it out:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

And here’s more from Chris Hedges:


Native American Wisdom for Getting Focused & OVERCOMING ADD...
You're Ahead of Your Time, So STOP TRYING TO TAKE OTHER PEOPLE ...
Inspiring Poetry for Motivation: Classics from the Old Rhymeboo...
How to Use Productivity to Gain Respect & Build Self-Esteem
My Upcoming Speaking Engagement in QUEENS, NYC (& More Free...


  • Bryan (author) said:

    This is another subject I’ll be going in depth with in later on…I’m posting this here now because it falls in line with a lot of what I’d like to discuss in the near future.

    What Hedges builds on is something that applies to both the society AND the individual – we distract ourselves and feed ourselves on illusions of our own importance and ability ALL THE TIME…

  • Today's Transcendence » Recommended Scrolls: Powerful Reading said:

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  • Tokeli said:

    You MUST read the entire book to really get the truest flavor of our nation’s depravity. The chapter on the pornography institutional machine is frightening as a free-thinking woman. Get the book and read it again and again.

  • Bryan Ogilvie (author) said:

    Yeah…you’re right Tokeli. I did read a few parts from the section “The Illusion of Love” and it was ON-POINT…his insight and lyrical swordsmanship is serious.

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