Believing stuff is very important to me. If you’re making things in an imaginary world, as I do a lot of the time for most of my various works, you rely on the ability of the human brain to construct a separate reality from the one they are in. In the business we call this the ‘suspension of disbelief’ to make it seem safe. But it is not safe. Not at all. It is loaded with power and horror and worry and fear. There is no suspension of disbelief. There is just belief or not. We, as humans, are wired to believe. And as a theatre practitioner, an occasional magician and the writer and performer of a haunted walk I’ve learnt maybe one or two things about the convincing of folk that stuff which is imaginary is real. But first, lemme digress a little and talk about sports.
Those of you who know me will maybe be a little surprised to hear this but you know what I like to do every now and then? I like to get a bit boozed (no surprises so far) and watch the rugby. Yup. I like it. Only if the game means something, I won’t go watch Marist play St. Bedes and think that that means anything (on account of it doesn’t. It’s like me watching No Sex Please, We’re Sixty by The New Plymouth Repertory Theatre for acting tips) but say it’s some sort of final thing. Sure. I’ll even yell at the TV.
And as I watch it, despite my lack of A) sporting prowess B) knowledge of the intricacies of rugby C) aspirations to be a professional sports person I still believe. I carry that most quintessential NZ dream, I could be an All Black, if I got my shit together and did some running and whatnot. This is utter bullshit. There is not a chance I could do so. Not for a minute. But I get caught up in it. Caught up in the excitement of the moment. And this isn’t something I do regularly. Maybe once or twice a year.
Imagine if you did this once a week. I dunno, every Sunday maybe? You would be practising believing wouldn’t you? Getting good at it.
Here’s a thing about the internet (which I love dearly, but sometimes it is shit) no matter what you’re into, you can find someone else who is in to it as well. That’s so important I’ll say it again.
On the internet, no matter what you’re into, you can find someone else who is in to it as well.
What if that person kept reinforcing what you were into as well? You could normalise it just like that.
Then you could probably quite easily make the leap that people that didn’t believe the same things as you were inhuman, evil and threatening your way of life. I mean, you’ve done all this practice… what are they saying? That you can’t be an All Black? But that’s the NZ dream! Fuck them!
You’d probably get crazy angry. I mean you’ve invested so much in something that you’ve forgotten was never real.
Dogmatic, unthinking belief in anything is dangerous. Extreme belief even more so. The human brain is created to recognise patterns and draw meaning from them. If you constantly reinforce patterns that are based on imaginary terrors, on the fear of migrants ruining your country, on the correctness of one political system, on the purity of your crusade then you will find you can justify pretty much anything to yourself.
Think for yourself. Question authority.
What are you believing in, and why?