L.B.: Vertigo's on First

Left Behind, pp. 461-465

In the seven pages remaining in this book there are six phone conversations, some pager and intercom action, a cab ride, another New York-Chicago flight, and the introduction of a new character who dominates a few pages, turns out not to matter much and goes away without affecting the story.

This last is Det. Sgt. Billy Cenni of New York’s finest. He is unnamed when we first meet him, just one of the indeterminate number of police and/or “security” to arrive in the U.N. conference room where Jonathan Stonagal and Global Viceregent and Emperor of Britannia Todd-Cothran are lying dead from a single bullet.

A plainclothesman asked questions. Buck headed him off. “You have enough eyewitnesses here. Let me leave you my card and you can call if you need me, hm?” The cop traded cards with him and Buck was permitted to leave.

To recap: Stonagal and T-C tried to have Buck killed. He was forced to fake his own death, racing across continents incognito to escape with his life. One week later, he encounters these men face to face for the first time. This meeting occurs behind closed doors and it ends with both of his enemies dead. No reason to keep Buck around for questioning then, hm?

So the world’s worst police detective is letting people leave the scene of the crime and thus the world’s worst reporter is able to flee from a still-unfolding story. The authors then provide a more detailed look at Buck’s journalistic M.O.:

Buck grabbed his bag and sprinted for a cab, rushing back to the office. He shut and locked his office door and began furiously banging out every detail of the story.

Based on this scene, here are some of the GIRAT’s tips for all you young reporters out there:

1. If you see news happening, run away as fast as possible.

2. Don’t talk to anyone.

3. Don’t take notes or record anything. It’s OK to carry around a big tape recorder, just make sure you never use it.*

4. Write in an otherwise empty, locked room without consulting notes. The whole story should exist only in your head — that’s where news comes from.

It’s not clear why Buck is in such a hurry here. He’s scurrying around like he works for WGW newsradio and he needs to air this story ASAP as a breaking news bulletin. But he actually works for Global Weekly, a magazine with a languid lead time and no way of publishing a fast-breaking story. In any case, Buck’s furious banging is interrupted by a phone call, the account of which begins with what may be the five least plausible words in this book:

He had produced several pages when he received a call from Stanton Bailey. The old man could hardly catch his breath between his demanding questions, not allowing Buck to answer.

“Where have you been? Why weren’t you at the press conference? Were you in there when Stonagal offed himself and took the Brit with him? You should have been here. …”

Statement! Two all. Game point. …

” … There’s prestige for us having you in there. How are you going to convince anybody you were in there when you didn’t show up for the press conference? Cameron, what’s the deal?

There’s a bit of a sequence-of-events problem here. Bailey is upset and asking about things he doesn’t know yet.

By the end of this chapter, Stanton Bailey will have talked to Steve Plank and to several U.N. officials and police/security officers who have all been mind-whammied into believing that Buck wasn’t “in there when Stonagal offed himself.” So eventually, after talking to those people, Bailey ought to be angrily demanding answers from his star reporter. But as far as he knows at this point, Buck was in the earlier meeting. Instead of asking the kinds of questions that would entail (“Are you alright?” “What did you see?”) Bailey seems to have already moved on to the kinds of questions he will want to be asking later, such as “How are you going to convince anybody you were in there?”

It’s not that hard to imagine reasons why Buck might have skipped the press conference. He might have been busily interviewing the other people with him in the room when the supposed suicide/murder took place. He might have tracked down an interview with Mrs. Todd-Cothran. There are dozens of different ways he might have been racing to move the story forward while his colleagues were all playing catch up at the press conference, scrambling to get the second-hand version of the story Buck just witnessed first-hand.

Once Bailey learned Buck hadn’t been doing any of those things, either, then he might be upset that Buck had missed the press conference, but instead he jumps right in with this “Why weren’t you there?” questioning because — like the authors — he knows ahead of time where this chapter is headed.

That this press conference has already taken place is also remarkable. The police apparently have already finished their investigation of the crime scene, completing their interviews with more than a dozen eerily repetitive and obviously rehearsed eyewitnesses,** wrapping up everything so tidily and quickly that Nicolae was free to go ahead with his presser on schedule, pronouncing his evidently brief RBO and ordering the newly designed flags of the new One World Government to be flown at half-staff while he takes advantage of the paid bereavement leave outlined in the OWG Personnel Handbook. And all of that took place in the time it took Buck to rush back to the office and type up a few pages.

“I hurried back here to get the story into the system,” Buck explains. He didn’t have time to finish getting the story because he was too busy already writing it. Bailey doesn’t care about the story, as he’s already said, he’s concerned with “prestige”:

“Don’t you have an exclusive with Carpathia now?”

Yes, it’s another post-press conference “exclusive.” Buck is a master at lining up these exclusive interviews right after his interviewees have answered questions from the entire press corps, Nightline and People magazine.

Buck had forgotten that, and Plank hadn’t reconfirmed it. What was he supposed to do about that? He prayed but sensed no leading. How he needed to talk to Bruce or Chloe or even Captain Steele! “I’ll call Steve and see,” he said.

Buck has been a born-again RTC for less than half a day but he’s already completely absorbed the native idiom. “He prayed but sensed no leading” conveys a raft of beliefs about the meaning, nature and practice of prayer that Buck shouldn’t have any experience with or knowledge of. Yet as soon as the “transaction” occurs, the moment he is saved, he emerges full-grown with all of the cultural tics and learned piety of someone who had lived for decades in a particular kind of evangelical church.

That particular kind of evangelical church no longer exists in the world of Left Behind. It was whisked off the planet along with nearly every person who spoke its lingo and adhered to its forms of piety. Yet whenever anyone in this post-Rapture world converts, they instantly begin talking about “sensing the Lord’s leading.” The specific shape and form of piety in this one culture seems to be for the authors inextricably and indistinguishably intermixed with the meaning and substance of the gospel. They seem unable to imagine a Christian who does not pray, worship and speak exactly as they do.

There’s a reason that Pentecost and the Great Commission are emphatically cross-cultural. If everyone you know who shares your faith also shares your culture then you end up with no way of knowing which is which, no way of knowing where the one stops and the other begins, no way of knowing the ways in which they have or haven’t been allowed to influence one another.

Anyway, Buck is understandably not relishing the idea of a one-on-one session with the man he just watched kill two people and then brainwash a dozen others:

Should he allow himself to be in a room alone with Carpathia? And if he did, should he pretend to be under his mind control as everyone else seemed to be? … Would he always be able to resist the influence with God’s help? He didn’t know.

So Buck calls Steve (actually, he calls Steve’s pager and then Steve calls him back, just to get a little more telephony into the story) and asks whether or not the interview is still on. Here we arrive at the part of the story that Stanton Bailey already seems to have known:

“You heard what happened and you want an exclusive?”

“Heard? I was there, Steve.”

“Well, if you were here, then you probably know what happened before the press conference.”

“Steve! I saw it with my own eyes.”

“You’re not following me, Buck. I’m saying if you were here for the press conference, you heard about the Stonagal suicide in the preliminary meeting, the one you were supposed to come to.”

Buck didn’t know what to say. “You saw me there, Steve.”

“I didn’t even see you at the press conference.”

“I wasn’t at the press conference, Steve, but I was in the room when Stonagal and Todd-Cothran died.”

“I don’t have time for this, Buck. It’s not funny. …”

The problem is that it is funny. Jenkins is shooting for a frightening sense of bewildering disorientation — something like the prose equivalent of Bernard Hermann’s score for Vertigo — but he ends up with something more along the lines of “Who’s on First?”

The authors themselves seem far more disoriented than Buck does. Granted, this section calls for a tricky bit of writing — conveying that two characters hold such wholly unreconcilable perceptions that they are scarcely able to communicate. But it takes Buck a bit too long to figure out what everyone is telling him, and even then he doesn’t offer much in his own defense:

Steve hung up on him. Marge buzzed and said the boss was on the line again. “What’s the deal with you not even going to that meeting?” Bailey said.

“I was there! You saw me go in!”

“Yeah, I saw you. You were that close. What did you do, find something more important to do? You got some fast talking to do, Cameron!”

“I’m telling you I was there! I’ll show you my credentials.”

“I just checked the credential list, and you’re not on it.”

“Of course I’m on it. I’ll show ‘em to you.”

“Your name’s there, I’m saying, but it’s not checked off.”

“Mr. Bailey, I’m looking at my credentials right now. They’re in my hand.”

“Your credentials don’t mean dirt if you didn’t use ‘em, Cameron.”

This business with the credentials is beside the point. Say you’re arguing with a friend who doubts you actually went to a concert or a ballgame. You wouldn’t bother showing her the tickets as proof because, as Bailey points out, your having the tickets wouldn’t prove you actually used them. So instead you would try to convince your friend by telling her what you saw at the concert or the game — things you couldn’t have seen if you hadn’t actually been there. Buck never does this, so Bailey keeps at him:

“I just talked to three, four people who were there, including a U.N. guard and Carpathia’s personal assistant, not to mention Plank. None of them saw you, you weren’t there.”

By this point Buck is so caught up in the Duck-Season/Rabbit-Season back and forth over whether or not he was actually at the meeting that he completely misses the repercussions of what Stanton Bailey is telling him: Everyone else who was in that room has been mind-whammied into believing that Buck was never there.

And it’s not just Steve, Hattie and the others from the room. It’s bigger and more widespread than that:

“A cop saw me!” Buck insists to his boss. “We traded cards!”

He decides to track down Det. Sgt. Billy Cenni — he’ll vouch that Buck was really there. That’ll show ‘em.

So he calls the precinct and asks for Cenni. He tries multiple pronunciations. He spells the name out for them. He has them look in the directory for the entire department. This is recounted in a page and a half of unwelcome detail, finally arriving at this:

“Personnel says there is nobody in the New York Police Department named Cenni, and there never has been.”

And that, in turn, leads Buck to this astonishingly dim conclusion:

All Buck could do now was try to convince Stanton Bailey.

Yeah, because that’s what’s important here — that he “convince Stanton Bailey” that he was really in the room.

Buck has just learned that the Antichrist has singled him out, brainwashing dozens of others into forgetting that he had ever been there. Why would he have wiped out every trace of Buck’s presence unless he had come to suspect that Buck was onto his secret? When Buck left that room, he was sure that Nicolae had believed that he had been successfully reprogrammed, but now that Nicolae has chosen to mind-whammy him right out of the picture it would seem that, somehow, the Antichrist had figured out that Buck hadn’t been fooled. And now Nicolae apparently has henchmen posing as police. Who knows where else they may have infiltrated. Nicolae’s spies could be anywhere. They could be everywhere.

That all sounds a bit paranoid, of course, but a bit of paranoia would seem to be called for when one is dealing with the Antichrist, a massive conspiracy and mysterious strangers passing themselves off as the cops. Yet, weirdly, Buck never entertains any such thoughts. Nor does he consider their flipside — that maybe he is just being paranoid, or maybe he really is losing it.

With all that Buck has just seen and heard, it would seem reasonable for him to question whether or not he was still reasonable. He ought to at least consider the possibility that he’s losing his mind.

This would be, at this point, a plausible and rational hypothesis. The entire world seems to be bearing witness to a version of events that contradicts what he believes he has just seen and heard. That seems to leave two possibilities: Either everyone else has gone mad and he alone has kept his sanity, or else the other way around. The latter possibility is simpler, and thus likelier,*** so it at least ought to be considered as a possibility.

Yet neither Buck nor the authors give this likely possibility a second thought. And because they never give it serious consideration, they never definitively rule it out. By refusing even the slightest doubts about his own sanity, Buck comes across as insanely confident in his own certainty. This, sadly, is what the authors apparently think it means to have “faith.”

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* Seriously, Buck had his bag with the tape recorder in it right there in the room where Nicolae was working his mojo. The authors had him leave it, unused, in the corner. Thousands of different plot possibilities would arise from having had Buck surreptitiously tape-recording the entire murder and mojo and every one of those possibilities would have been much, much cooler than leaving the @%#$ bag unused and untouched in the corner of the room.

** Between the implausibly similar and practiced accounts of these witnesses and the unlikely description of the crime itself — with the elderly Stonagal racing around the room faster than the able-bodied T-C could move to safety — the detectives’ BS-meter should be spiking in the red. Nicolae, of course, must have worked his mojo on these investigators, otherwise, by the twelfth rendition of the witnesses’ identical account, they’d have to be suspecting some kind of Orient Express conspiracy in which everyone in the room was somehow complicit in the deaths of these two men.

*** It’d be fun to rework the whole book in a Shutter Island/”Normal Again” vein, with Nicolae Carpathia turning out to be Buck/Rayford’s psychologist desperately working to save him …

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Praline

    the fainting goat (a goat that faints when startled, distracting predators from healthy members of the group
    I was under the impression that fainting goats are a mutation of domestic goats – ie, they’ve been bred by humans rather than evolved in the wild, which isn’t exactly natural selection. Also, like I said, there’s a difference between an immediate crisis like a predator and chronic stress of the kind that tends to stimulate depression. The self-destructive examples we’ve had on this thread have been crisis strategies rather than long-term stress issues.
    At times of great difficulty however, people who were especially stressed would develop depression, and with it reduced appetite and reproductive drive, which would reduce stress on the tribe, allowing more productive members a larger proportion of the food pie, so to speak.
    Nah, I doubt it. In practice, your average depressive is much more demanding than your average healthy person. Let’s break it down. (I know it’s only an example, but just for interest.)
    You have a tribe with some sick, non-productive members who are eating less. Those sick members are unable to pull their weight, but they’re still consuming resources – they might not eat as much, but they still eat something, especially as a tribe with any kind of functional social system is unlikely to be willing to watch fellow members starve. Say the sick members are only eating 20% of what they used to, but doing 5% of the work they used to: their consumption-to-work ratio has substantially increased. And that’s leaving aside other kinds of work, such as oh, hut-maintenance, wood-gathering, tiger patrols and so on, which the depressed members will still need the full, 100% benefits of but be unable to do their share of providing, again increasing their consumption-to-contribution ratio. Without their help, the other members of the tribe will have to work harder to keep the resources coming in.
    So the healthy members of the tribe suddenly find themselves doing more work than previously, and if they lived in primitive conditions, they were probably working pretty hard to begin with. Now they’re doing work than they can comfortably cope with. In short, they’re dealing with a much increased material burden.
    At the same time, they’re also coping with an increased emotional burden, because the presence of even one depressed person, never mind enough to make the kind of difference you’re theorising, tremendously raises everybody’s stress levels. (It’s not the depressed person’s fault, but depressed people are hella hard to live with. Their behaviour can also be divisive, which will strain the cohesiveness of the healthy tribe members, decreasing their efficiency.) Stress increases your chances of illness and is fatiguing: not only are the healthy members doing more work, but they’re in a poorer condition to do it, not just emotionally but physically as well.
    So at times of great difficulty, the functioning members of this imaginary tribe are doing more than their share of work while living in more debilitating conditions. My money’s on the ‘clean’ tribe.

  • Cowboy Diva

    well. as long as we’re playing with hypotheticals…
    can we also pretend codependency is a genetic trait? Could there then be people in the hypothetical tainted tribe who be genetically predisposed to caring for the depressed individual(s) regardless of resource-consumption/support-of-tribe ratio?
    I do like the concept of tiger patrols, however, especially if it includes a proto-Elmer Fudd admonishing, “Shh. We’we hunting tigews.”

  • hapax

    Actually, now that we’re playing hypotheticals, of what earthly use is the genetic mutation that predisposes individuals to prefer the piece-of-crap storyteller over Homo Shakespearianus?
    And can we isolate and remove it, to advantage future Kit Whitfields over the descendents of L & J?

  • Ursula L

    Another hypothetical:
    Depressed people require more care from other members of their community. So they will be more likely to survive and thrive in communities with a strong “sense of community” – where people are more interdependent, and more likely to help each other out.
    Community and cooperation are a big part of what makes humans human. As humans evolve, and as human culture developed, more marginal individuals (with all sorts of disabilities, including depression) were likely to survive and be cared for.
    Depression, as a trait, being a side-effect of the trait of human community-building. The evolutionary advantage of being in a family/tribe with a strong sense of community caring outweighing any disadvantages that having a few depressed members of the family/tribe may create. (In the same way that walking upright made human hips less well-suited to childbearing – but the advantages of having one’s hands free to work still made walking upright an evolutionary advantage.)

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Praline

    Could there then be people in the hypothetical tainted tribe who be genetically predisposed to caring for the depressed individual(s) regardless of resource-consumption/support-of-tribe ratio?
    Based on how many depressed people’s families struggle to help them nowadays I’d say there almost certainly is. Trouble is, I think it’s an effect of your basic look-after-others-now-and-they’ll-look-after-you-later gene, the human tendency to bond and cooperate that leads to the wonderful world of reciprocal altruism that probably saved us from being eaten by tigers the minute we stepped out of the trees in the first place. And the ‘clean’ tribe has it too. Everyone does, and I don’t think it has anything to do with the depression gene. A tribe with reciprocal altruism and no depression stands a much better chance than a tribe with reciprocal altruism and depression; the depression eats up a lot of altruistic energy that might otherwise have been spent teaching the children how to invent better tiger traps.

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Praline

    Hapax, I love you. :-)
    Depression, as a trait, being a side-effect of the trait of human community-building. The evolutionary advantage of being in a family/tribe with a strong sense of community caring outweighing any disadvantages that having a few depressed members of the family/tribe may create.
    That sounds very sensible.

  • Jeff

    that probably saved us from being eaten by tigers the minute we stepped out of the trees in the first place.
    Wouldn’t it be lions, not tigers? Africa, not Asia? I know our old friend Smilodon is often refered to a a “Sabre-toothed Tiger”, but isn’t more accurately called a “Sabre-toothed Cat”? (Personally, I blame the brontosaurus aptosaurus!)

  • Amaryllis

    Wouldn’t it be lions, not tigers?
    I know I promised not to quote him any more, but I really need to cheer myself up right now. Thus, The Purist.
    (Those who are tired of Nash quotes, don’t click.)

  • Jeff

    Thus, The Purist.
    One of my favorites!

  • Reynard

    Posted by Cactus Wren: Of course Mind Siege is hilarious. I haven’t even read it, but I can tell it must be: it’s by LaHaye and David Noebel, the man who popularized the idea that since rock music is rhythmic and rhythm is hypnotic, and people can be hypnotized into becoming Communists, then the entire rock music industry must be a massive Communist plot.
    Never mind Rock music, what about pretty much *ANY* genre of music? (Other than, maybe, 12-tone, Gregorian chant [aka "synchronized moaning", according to an acquaintance of mine] , or other, intently dissonant styles.) Even the most hillbilly-ish, down-home, amelodic, wheeze-it-through-the-nose Gospel song has to have at least a *hint* of rhythm or else it’ll fall apart into just plain noise. Does this mean that all of my beloved Classical composers* were agents of Stalin??? (And, yes, “Agents of Stalin” *does* sound like a good name for a Russian Industrial/Metal band…)
    *Yes, yes, I know; Mozart was a Mason, and he actually *was* trying to take over the World… <⁄snark>

  • http://accidental-historian.blogspot.com/ Geds

    Even the most hillbilly-ish, down-home, amelodic, wheeze-it-through-the-nose Gospel song has to have at least a *hint* of rhythm or else it’ll fall apart into just plain noise.
    Side note: Noebel’s Wikipedia article is hilariously biased…
    Anyway, if Noebel is who I think he is (which the Wiki hasn’t enlightened me on, so I got nothin’), the issue isn’t rhythm itself, it’s the type of rhythm.
    See, the human heart beats thusly: BUH-buh-buh, which, as we all know, is the way that a waltz goes. Waltz’s are okay. Rock music, however, tends to go buh-buh-BUH, which is the reverse of the human heart beat. That throws the mind out of whack and allows the devil in. Plus there’s probably something about that wicked vegetarian stew recipe if you play that one McCartney song backwards…
    Oh, and apparently if you put an egg on stage at a rock concert it will be hard boiled at the end because of the power of the reverse syncopated beat or whatever this highly scientific concept is called. It’s true because somebody said he did it this one time.
    And I am not making up the preceding paragraphs. I’m probably not remembering things completely correctly, as I ran across the insanity therein mentioned a couple years ago and haven’t thought of it since, but that’s the heart of one of the major anti-rock arguments. Although David Noebel doesn’t seem to be smart enough to make it, so I might be thinking of the wrong guy.

  • Jeff

    Noebel’s Wikipedia article is hilariously biased…
    I changed “Today, countless Christian youth have fallen victim to the popular ideas of our modern world. Most have adopted these ideas into their own worldview, while still others go on to renounce their Christian faith altogether.” to “He believes that today, countless Christian youth have fallen victim to the popular ideas of our modern world, and that most have adopted these ideas into their own worldview, while still others go on to renounce their Christian faith altogether.”

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    ‘Evolution’ can become the secular equivalent of ‘God’s plan’ if we aren’t careful.
    I remember William Gibson and Bruce Sterling making that point in The Difference Engine. A minor character had made a reference to his wife’s role in the house as being “part of God’s plan”, until one of the lords of the new post-Babbage meritocracy gave him the hairy eyeball. The guy immediately changed his tune to “part of evolution’s natural roles” or some such.
    Different instrument, same tune.
    — DamnedYankee
    “Men of Sin” will glom onto and quote any Cosmic-level Authority — Bible, Koran, Marx, Darwin, Freud, Reason, Nature, whatever — to justify whatever they were going to do anyway.

  • Tonio

    ‘Evolution’ can become the secular equivalent of ‘God’s plan’ if we aren’t careful.
    I agree. A better description might be “evolution of the gaps.” The larger issue may be a human discomfort with the unknown and a human tendency to assume purpose. Maybe this is what drives the speculators – they might want their speculations to be true because they see having no answer as the only other option.

  • Abelardus

    ‘Evolution’ can become the secular equivalent of ‘God’s plan’ if we aren’t careful.
    Here be dragons.

  • Reynard

    Posted by Geds: See, the human heart beats thusly: BUH-buh-buh, which, as we all know, is the way that a waltz goes. Waltz’s are okay. Rock music, however, tends to go buh-buh-BUH, which is the reverse of the human heart beat.
    Actually, the average/normal Human Electrocardiogram sine wave is closer to BUH-BUH-BUH-buh, which is pretty close to some of the more driving Metal beats that I’ve heard. (BTW: if it *were* in waltz rhythm [buh-BUH-BUH buh-BUH-BUH], you’d probably want to get to a CICU pretty quickly because you’d be in something like Ventricular tachycardia.)

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Praline

    The larger issue may be a human discomfort with the unknown and a human tendency to assume purpose.
    Maybe so. But if we don’t keep an eye on that tendency, we’re skating dangerously close to the Just World Fallacy.

  • Cowboy Diva

    I always thought ventricular tachycardia was more of a rate issue (hence, “tachy”) rather than a rhythm issue, although at high enough rates it could lead to atrial fibrillation, which would definitely throw a rhythm off. Anyone here care to enlighten me?

  • Me

    Studying depression as a malfunction sounds entirely sensible. It was Wesley Parish’s suggestion that depression might have evolved because it conferred advantages that I was disagreeing with.
    I’m not sure that malfunction is the right word here. If it’s being reinforced by evolution or some other means, then it’s functioning precisely how it’s supposed to, it’s just that how it functions is ultimately harmful to us.
    For instance, the gag reflex and nausea are rather unpleasant and gross to me, but they are still traits that are there for a reason – namely to remove toxic (or potentially toxic chemicals) from the body.
    Personally, I would bet on the theory that depression was originally a self-defense mechanism following the first response (panic, fight-or-flight mode, etc) when short term attempts at escape or something like it are ineffective. The one-two punch is a bit like the immune system, where an inflammatory response (like fight-or-flight) provides enough back up to help in less extreme situations, reserving the big guns, the white blood cells (like depression), for a more serious or chronic problem.
    If we think about it, it makes a good deal of sense. In the cases where we’ve more or less created depression – in dogs after multiple periods of exposure to inescapable shocks and such – it’s a response to long term suffering where blindly attacking or fleeing are out of the question for one reason or another. The natural response in such a situation is to curl up into the fetal position and just shut down. It’s almost a more sophisticated version of playing dead.
    Just my two cents.

  • Me

    ACK – I forgot to add this part in my editing:
    Vomiting and the gag reflex are hijacked or accidentally triggered by various pathogens, either to propagate themselves or as a byproduct of their growth. The same functioning is triggered and it’s functioning perfectly, but I suppose this could be called a malfunction because it is being set off inappropriately or unnecessarily.
    Yet, we have no evidence for or against that an outside force or some such thing is triggering or manipulating the whole process of depression. Personally, having known some one with chronic stress syndrome, I think some people may be inherently more vulnerable to the daily slings and arrows (or even the less frequent but more serious crap that life throws at us). If placed in the wrong situation on the wrong day, perhaps such people could be catapulted through the whole panic phase and land in the more extreme depression phase. For people with chronic stress syndrome, I also suspect that depression’s trigger is somehow damaged, leading to the panic phase simply working overtime and going a little haywire.
    Now to be slightly more off-topic, has any one else heard about the theory that Americanization and Depression are related? (See – http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/118048.php and/or the book Culture Jam, which cites studies that Americanization and Depression correlated in Japan and South Korea)
    Personally, I’m not sure whether to write this off as native or conservative cultures saying, “Shut up, it’ll be fine in the morning” only to be replaced by a culture where it is okay to talk about it, or if the culture loss produces disillusionment which is then either mistaken for or contributes to depression. Given rates of depressions among non-immigrant (or at least not fairly recent ones) I’m leaning towards this being due to the specifics of American (or perhaps Western?) culture. But, I’m not sure if it’s just that we’re more open about the problem or we actually increase it, because I could see both being argued, but neither proved.

  • Hawker Hurricane

    My $.02
    Anger, hate, fear, and depression are part of the same response to danger system.
    Danger threatens.
    Can you defeat it? You feel anger.
    Can you defeat it, but not right now? You feel hate.
    Can you flee it? You feel fear.
    Are you unable to flee or fight? Depression.
    Note, that humans, with are wonderful imaginations, react to things that aren’t truly dangerous in the sense of ‘do something or die!’. Thus, we feel anger toward the jerk on the freeway who cut us off, we hate the city council for not fixing potholes, we fear that we will be embarrassed at work… and our depressed because our team lost.

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Praline

    and our depressed because our team lost.
    There’s a difference between that kind of depression and clinical depression, though, which is what we’re talking about. You’re talking about a mood of feeling down; clinical depression is an illness that damages the prefrontal cortex.
    Personally, I would bet on the theory that depression was originally a self-defense mechanism … It’s almost a more sophisticated version of playing dead.
    I don’t think that really works; it’s not a very effective self-defense mechanism that leads you to consider, and sometimes attempt, suicide. Nor is it a very effective mechanism that causes you to get into fights, and depression often raises aggression levels.
    It’s an effective self-defense mechanism that babies panic if they’re too far from their parents: that leads them to stay close to their protectors at a vulnerable age. Similarly, if depression solely led you to become sleepy and unmotivated, the idea might work; it would be a kind of hibernation, a way of waiting out the bad times. But in reality, it also involves symptoms like aggression, self-harm, recklessness and suicidal thoughts, all of which put the organism in greater danger rather than making it safer.
    I think you’re using too narrow a model of symptoms. You say that with dogs, ‘it’s a response to long term suffering where blindly attacking or fleeing are out of the question’: dogs may just lie down, but human sufferers very often do blindly attack people, either physically or verbally, and they do very often flee situations that cause them stress, such as looking for work, turning up at court, connecting with friends and family, or seeing a doctor, even when fleeing is the self-destructive course. The symptoms of depression are many and varied, but the common thread is that they’re dangerous to the sufferer, and often to those around them as well; self-preservation is not a feature.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Buck has been a born-again RTC for less than half a day but he’s already completely absorbed the native idiom. “He prayed but sensed no leading” conveys a raft of beliefs about the meaning, nature and practice of prayer that Buck shouldn’t have any experience with or knowledge of. Yet as soon as the “transaction” occurs, the moment he is saved, he emerges full-grown with all of the cultural tics and learned piety of someone who had lived for decades in a particular kind of evangelical church.
    Most likely an author (or authors, or author self-inserts) who don’t know anything about anything outside the four walls of their church and who can only THINK in Christianese.
    A fish doesn’t know it’s wet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/neil.macinnis Neil MacInnis

    Buck has reason to believe the cop’s a henchman of Nicolae but there’s another option here; the cop was immune to the mojo too far some reason and was also singled out. If this were a T.V show better writers could have been hired and made the detective a recurring anti-hero to Buck and Ray’s pure goodness. Thn again nobody reads left behind for nuanced plots.


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