Spurred on by a multitude of interested bloggers, two new articles from LA have effectively disassembled Theresa Duncan’s public image. She never received the degrees she claimed she had; she took full credit for collaborative work; her done deals were more like the half-sincere moviemaker promises that even most of us get from time to time. The crumbling resume at the bottom of this deep, moving tale is full-on pulled-rug zeitgeist; we can each count on a similar deflated ending.
The lies she told to sustain that fabricated reality with inevitably devolved into a massive, consuming paranoia that started off articulate and Radiohead-y but turned rambling and deadly. She was convinced that a cabal of Scientologists were after her, coordinated by Beck (reverse-mirror scenario of the Devil’s Haircut video).
To the list of stories that don’t check out, let me add: she could not really have been as moved by the book of choice called out on her Wit of the Staircase blog, Multitude by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. A true Hardt-Negriphile would have understood from Multitude’s precursor Empire that the conspiracy theory doesn’t exist. The appearance of conspiracy theory is just a quirky byproduct of the spectacle.
“We do not mean to suggest that there is a little man behind the curtain, a great Wizard of Oz who controls all that is seen, thought, and done. There is no single locus of control that dictates the spectacle. The spectacle, however, generally functions as if there were such a point of central control…. Conspiracy theories of governmental and extragovernmental plots of global control, which have certainly proliferated in recent decades, should thus be recognized as both true and false. As Frederic Jameson explains wonderfully in the context of contemporary film, conspiracy theories are a crude but effective mechanism for approximating the functioning of the totality. The spectacle of politics functions as if the media, the military, the government, the transnational corporations, the global financial institutions, and so forth [the Scientologists] were all consciously and explicitly directed by a single power even though in reality they are not.” 3.5
Conspiracy theory serves the same purpose today that superstition did before—the communication of fear. Just because you’re paranoid, don’t mean they aren’t after you.
L.A. Times: The world as Jeremy Blake and Theresa Duncan saw it
L.A. Weekly: The Theresa Duncan Tragedy
Chris Lee’s LA Times report ends:
“Schlei also pointed out that one of Blake’s favorite movies was Robert Altman’s adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s “The Long Goodbye,” in which a character played by Sterling Hayden takes his own life by walking into the sea.
“Life imitates art,” Schlei said.”
The Long Goodbye had two separate runs at the Film Forum this year.