The assumptions Quizro
identifies here are not terribly different from the assumptions that fed the internecine conflicts
after it became a state religion
following the reign of Constantine
While the closest parallels to this closed system
of thought may be found in the beliefs that we are given to understand were held by many of the gnostic
sects destroyed in the course of conflict, my own reading finds that many of these features and beliefs were prevalent also in the emerging orthodoxy
of that time. Elaine Pagels
(The Gnostic Gospels
) provides a good starting point in reading about this period, as does Peter Brown
, especially his treatment, The Body and Society
For the science fiction tie-ins, I would start with Philip K. Dick, especially his (few) books from VALIS onward, which develop this theme in detail. Many of his friends and supporters feel he was undergoing a profound psychotic break at about this time, but however one chooses to interpret or characterize his mental state, the books written during his period of epiphany certainly capture this mindset as few others have managed to do. The Matrix, Total Recall, Enemy of the State and other recent films develop these sorts of themes. Small wonder that many, like Minority Report and Imposter also happen to have been based on short stories by the late Philip K. Dick. Also of note, the creation of a Philip K. Dick award which has gone most frequently to writers identified with the cyberpunk genre of science fiction.
No doubt that this is a prevalent theme in current entertainment, and perhaps a dangerous one, though I wonder which is more dangerous: the fact these ideas are expressed in fictional form, or the possible blurring of lines among some particular subset of mentally vulnerable viewers? I recall (poorly, and even perhaps mistakenly) that Francis Ford Coppola was hugely upset that there was a big up-surge in military enlistments shortly after his Apocalypse Now was released.
In that case was:
- the movie a recruiting tool?
- Did its nihilism appeal to disaffected youth, mostly young men born near the end of the Baby Boom years?
- Or did the movie's release simply coincide with a surge in enlistments taken in response to the Recession of 1979?
- Or was it simply "Morning in America"?