I was reading an account of American movies being so popular in China. But there are restrictions on what movies the dictatorship allows the public to watch. One forbidden movie that was mentioned surprised me—Ghost Busters! You all remember that one—hilarious! What’s so subversive about it?
Even though the movie is a comedy, the idea of ghosts and life after death is forbidden, according to the government. You’re not allowed to think of anything beyond the material world. This is to consign us to a claustrophobic universe, and there are parallels in America where the constraints on what we’re allowed to think are more subtle but just as pervasive.
A case in point: The New York Review of Books ran two articles on “Science” and the afterlife. The author was cited as having written a book on Charles Dickens, with no indication that he had any knowledge of survival research. The articles focused on popular books on the subject, especially the very popular but also well-informed bestseller by the neuroscientist, Eben Alexander.
The aim of the review was obvious: Negate the possibility that there was anything serious about the notion of an afterlife. None of the issues, cases, or notable researchers like William James and Frederic Myers are discussed, none of the numerous weighty tomes that are basic to the history of the subject. The articles gave a spurious picture of what researchers have to say on the subject. The review was a form of fake news about a subject of great human importance.
Taking issue with the term “Science” attached to these articles, I wrote the New York Review of Books a polite letter, pointing to the fact that neither article showed a hint of the “science” they had advertised in their title. They didn’t publish my letter nor any letters on the topic; so I cancelled my subscription to this patently dishonest publication.
Of course, Americans can and do publish good books on life after death. But they are rarely treated with the respect or the attention they deserve by the mainstream press and academy. The reason is that the official, dominant culture in America, as in China, is based on materialist ideology. To be a proper citizen in the communist or the capitalist Leviathan, you must resist the temptation to think about transcendence. The State has put you in a box, and you are to stay there. The main difference between the Chinese and the American treatment is the degree of hypocrisy between them, the American surpassing the Chinese.