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John Howard: The Conspiracy of Grey MenAuthor: Andres Vaccari • Oct 7th, 2005 •
by Andrés Vaccari
The following is an excerpt from an official report prepared by Andrés Vaccari, on behalf of the JG Ballard Institute for the Study of Eroto-Responsive Kinetics, Canberra.
DISCLAIMER: The following photos have been modified by the patients referenced by this report. The JG Ballard Institute for the Study of Eroto-Responsive Kinetics, Canberra implies no endorsement of any kind whatsoever by their publication.
The Conspiracy of Grey Men
“The Grey Men,” Dr Travis explained, “play a pivotal role in these kinds of fantasies. The appearance of this archetype is contemporary with the dawn of large bureaucracies and the rise of pseudo-rational economic ideologies. The Grey Men share the ideal traits of bureaucrats, accountants, lawyers, businessmen and other exemplars of the human fauna spawned by industrial capitalism. They are emblems of efficiency and procedure, to whom people are abstract quantities, and society a series of equations of greed and demand. Their code words are ‘inevitability’, ‘invisibility’ and ‘profit’. Their language is a mixture of esoteric jargon and mathematical ephemera, with constant references to quasi-alchemical concepts like ‘The Invisible Hand’, the ‘Balance of Trade’ and ‘The Trickle-Down Effect’. It is not surprising, therefore, that we are witnessing a marked increase in these paranoid fantasies after the Liberal Party’s rise to power in 1996. It is not a coincidence either that patients are becoming fixated sexually on the figure of John Howard, the Australian Prime Minister – the living embodiment of Grey Man.”
The Mechanics of Inhumanity
During one of the studies, a series of photographs was presented to a group of schizophrenic patients, who were instructed to group them in a meaningful schema. This series included: 1) a diagram of a Watt steam engine; 2) Liberal Party figureheads; 3) the disfigured genitalia of anonymous car crash victims; 4) well-known environmental disasters; 5) Jeanette Howard, the Prime Ministers’ wife, eating at a corporate dinner; 6) queues at banks and Centrelink offices; 7) victims of police brutality; 8) Victorian ex-Premier Jeff Kennett’s hairstyle; 9) Iraqi refugees at Port Hedland Detention Centre.
Sixty-five per cent of patients strongly associated the disfigured genitalia with various powerful figures in the Howard Government, a phenomenon doctors interpreted as expressing powerlessness – projected as psycho-sexual impairment – before a divisive and hermetic political regime. The Liberal Party figures were the objects of mutilation scenarios, and often the photos themselves were torn or cut. Also, forty-nine per cent of patients reported various elaborate, Sadean erotic fantasies. In these, they took submissive roles, often involving binding and genital disfigurement.
The Sleep of Reason
Dr Travis explained that the advent of discourses like “Scientific Management”, “Human Resource Management” and “Economic Rationalisation” had introduced a novel figure into the pantheon of modern psychosis. These prophets of efficiency and mechanism had become insistent iconic presences in the cosmologies of the deranged. Dr Travis said that the new millenium would bring nightmarish variations on these archetypes. He cited a recent US study, where patients in various states of terminal psychosis described terrifying meetings with cold female inquisitors, who would read out long strings of numbers, soliciting detailed information such as physical characteristics and financial assets.
These visitors, clad in neat, spotless grey suits, dictated intricate megalomanical theories that explained society through the workings of a cryptic “Economic Realm”, which they described as a land of milk and honey where the souls of workers and managers travelled after death, and which was ruled by a benevolent, all-seeing entity.
During one of the studies, long-term inmates were provided with Conceptual Assassination Kits, and the ensuing fantasy-elaboration process was monitored closely.
In 87 per cent of cases, the figure of Prime Minister John Howard emerged as a favourite target of assassination. Elaborate death schemes were put forth, many of which involved multiple automobile disasters and byzantine torture machinery. Twenty-one per cent of patients singled out Minister for the Environment Robert Hill as a preferred object of death, with the proposed methods of execution clearly echoing the present global devastation: death by toxic waste poisoning, melanoma and famine.
Psychotherapists concluded that the Prime Minister’s lack of any vital human traits – such as compassion, imagination or sexuality – made him a favourite vessel for various paranoid projections and erotic decontextualisations. In a minority of cases, this perceived emptiness facilitated reconceptualisation of Howard as a robot or a computer-generated image.
John Howard’s Conceptual Pudenda
Shortly before his unexplained disappearance, Dr Travis outlined the results of his research in a manuscript presently in the possession of a Federal Police Task Force.
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