You might have heard about the BBC documentary The Power of Nightmares, tonight I watched it. Well actually, I watched the three-hour series with an interval of The O.C., which made for an interesting switch of pace and context. Anyhow, if we can drag ourselves away from the tawdry world of teenage romance and high school drama and concentrate on the tawdry world of international terrorism for a while, it was a very interesting few hours. (I should probably mention that my watching this show was the result of some actions of dubious legality, DMCA anyone? Not that I would recommend such actions. For some reason, while I would never download a film, I don't have any problems downloading TV shows that aren't available on DVD. I think of it in the same way I would think of my Mother videoing said show and sending me the tape. Similarly, while I don't think one should download songs from one of the mass file sharing networks, I see no problem in borrowing a friends CD and making a mp3, or m4a, copy of it. I'm not sure that the relevant authorities have quite the same flexible interpretation of what's right and wrong.)
The documentary contrasted the rise of the neo-conservatives and islamists over the last 50 years. The filmmakers traced a very interesting path, starting with a high school dance in America and ending with dirty bombs (which are apparently a crock of shit). I was particularly interested in the portion of the film that concentrated on the Soviet Union. It started by explaining how the neo-conservatives lied about the power and influence of the Soviet Union, and ended by explaining how the Soviet Union crumbled under its own corruption, with very little effect of outside influence. Which reminded me of the conversation I was in at Hallow-e'en, strange little circles the world forms.
Anyhow, to cut a long story short the documentary was very well done. But being as its main point was one that I believed in already, the threat of terrorism is grossly exaggerated, I'm probably a biased observer. The documentary went in to a lot of detail discussing particular, well publicized 'arrests' of terrorist cells in the UK and US and pointed out how the cases fell apart under closer examination. In one such case a home video of a trip to Disneyland was used as evidence that a group of young Arabs were planning a terrorist attack there, and the fact that it looked so much like a home video of a holiday was used as proof that it was something more sinister. Lack of evidence being used as a proof evidence existed was a recurring theme throughout the documentary, with the neo-conservatives applying it successively to the Soviet Union, Bill Clinton and now the terrorists. Also despite all the hoop-la surrounding the Tube attacks in London, the only terrorists who have been prosecuted in Britain since September 11th 2001, under the anti-terror laws, were members of (Northern) Irish groups.
I wrote some of this post in the bar this evening (and some of it I tidied up on Friday morning). This prompted several conversations about nightmares. I recanted my childhood nightmare in which the world changes from it's normal form into one in which everything has the consistency of cooked pasta, this was somehow terrifying. And I was told, by one of the barmaids, about two of her nightmares, a fist fight in which you can not hurt your opponent and trying to run away but being unable to move. If I wanted to psychobabble I'd probably say that her nightmares focused on inadequacy, or helplessness, as they each involve not being able to do something, but I'm not quite sure what my pasta nightmare is supposed to symbolize.