In the crime novel Käferplage (to be published in English as ‘Campbell’s Fab Store’ at a later point in time), which I am currently writing and publishing as a serial story, the characters are confronted with the question of truth and reality, and how to distinguish them from lies and illusion. Here is an excerpt from the eleventh chapter.
German-speakers may already start to read the story online at https://kaeferplage.kanope.de.
He didn’t know what annoyed him more: that he had allowed himself to be ridiculed, or that this incredibly self-convinced person had not even considered looking at the circumstantial evidence, but instead just put it in a box labelled ” silly stuff”, along with all the other things that “everyone knows” can’t be true. The majority of people went through the world blindly, believing what they saw was self-explanatory. Yet what they saw was shown and explained to them – by media that served quite different purposes than reporting the truth. As if it were so outlandish that those who were rich and powerful would like to remain so. “If I had made billions in fraud, deceit and murder, I would likewise do whatever was necessary to ensure that people heard my innocuous explanations, not the squawking of those affected or the reports of the investigators,” Zach grumbled into his three-day beard.
Because most people could not distinguish reality from the media-produced theatrical backdrop, Tony Blair had succeeded in rushing Britain into a war against Iraq. Young soldiers had thrown their lives away helping to search for weapons of mass destruction that had been made up… to cite just one provable recent example of established media willfully painting a false reality in its entirety. Not an exception, but the rule. There were major crimes – even of breathtaking dimensions – happening right here and now in front of everyone’s eyes, but one was not allowed to mention the bare facts, either matter-of-factly or in jest, if one wanted to keep one’s income, home, friendships, freedom and health. As a private investigator, he knew only too well how that went. The worst injustices happened with the knowledge and approval, often even with the participation of the authorities, covered up by ‘journalists’ who knew when to look the other way and who to denounce. That is why he was not at all surprised that at least one of the two groups of people – the confirmers and the deniers of the authenticity of the Mal Evans Archive – had allowed themselves to be used to convey a certain impression. Resourcefulness was punished while the dog’s obedience to the master paid off. And the master wanted the unanimous display of professional or administrative authority. When everyone said, “Listen to the experts; there’s nothing to be seen here!”, only a few dared to risk a second look. Peer pressure was an effective way to bring free-grazing sheep back into the fold.
Zachary Ziegler owed his success as a detective to the fact that he did not give in to such pressure when it came to the truth. No one was immune from deception, but one had to retain the freedom to consciously perceive and admit one’s mistakes. Those who remained glued to the theatre chair – be it a chair in the stalls, be it a box seat – out of comfort, fear of standing out from the crowd or for the sake of feeling good would never know who these people on stage really were or what they were doing behind the scenes. They lived in an elaborately constructed world of make-believe. After a while, they forgot that it was artificial; it became the world as such, no matter how absurd it might get. That’s why people like Commissar Wickens disgusted Zach. They acted as doorkeepers, dictating to others the spaces in which they could mentally move, what they could or could not do, think or ignore, under penalty of social ostracism.
For someone like Zach, the taboos postulated by people like Wickens raised questions. The detective had feared he had revealed more than he had learned until the commissar had sort of poked his nose at something: the motive for the two violent deaths related to the Evans memoir – and for the disappearance of the manuscript – might have been the looming exposure of an impostor in the ranks of the world’s most successful rock band. If second-tier acts like the Monkees or Milli Vanilli were already punished with commercial annihilation for merely pretending to be musicians, the same accusation would cause an earthquake in the Beatles‘ case. It would overshadow the cherished memories of untold millions of music listeners, undermine the credibility of internationally important personalities and ruin the image of a country and an industry. Not least, billions of British pounds were at stake. Compared to that, what was a paltry million for the yellowed manuscript or the lives of two small characters who had made their living from the waste of this Beatles machinery?
Zach wanted to see if the trail Wickens had tried to throw him off of might lead him further.