Yesterday, I began researching the 1954 Coup conducted by the CIA in Guatemala again, a research topic I’ve been obsessed with for as long as I can remember. Every time I try and conduct research on this event I have to stop after a couple of sentences. It bothers me. Deeply. It’s just too close. I’m actually living, and I’ve been living for the past 31 years in the wake of this calamitous political event, that took place over 60 years ago in Guatemala. But yesterday, I stopped to consider if I really needed to go down this path, yet again. A path where I get caught up in the details of the coup and lose the bigger picture. It should be enough for me to know that this event took place and know the major facts about the event. And I do. I can outline the beginning, middle, and end of this event and never be at a loss for words with which to populate and continue the narrative. But this path that I’ve been on, where the art practice I’ve painstakingly cobbled together over the past couple of years, starts to become eerily similar to what a conspiracy theorist does, is something I have to follow. I don’t have the level of derision some people hold for conspiracy theories and those who champion their existence. In fact, I have a lot more in common with the person who takes their distrust for authority, power structures and ultimately the United States a little too far that it begins to veer off into incoherent diatribes, then the run-of-the-mill person who has no distrust of the government and has a hard time believe any government official would intentionally mislead their constituency.
There have been times, where I feel like I need to stop this research. And just move on. But something inside me just cannot seem to get over it. I just can’t. So here I am writing a blog about how my art practice is starting to resemble the ramblings of a conspiracy theorist. So what. So what if my research reveals how the Catholic Church had direct involvement with the overthrowing of a democratically elected President in Guatemala in 1954. So what if my research reveals that E. Howard Hunt, infamous for his role in Watergate, who during this time was working for the Central Intelligence Agency, known the world over as the greatest intelligence service of any country in the world, is quoted as saying “I wouldn’t presume to trace the lines of authority within the Catholic Church… how they get their information they deal with… We’ve always said in an admiring way that the Jesuits (The Society of Jesus is a religious order of the Catholic Church headquartered in Rome) form the greatest intelligence service in the world and always have.” What am I supposed to do with that information? Just ignore it. Or think of it as the ramblings of an old, washed-up spook? So, what do I do? I instinctively turn to my place of refuge and seek guidance and clarity. I turn to J.R.R. Tolkien and the universe he created. Whenever I’m having a hard time making sense of complex ideas or anything really, I’ve always found that Tolkien usually comes through. So here we go….
If you’ve read J.R.R. Tolkien, specifically The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, you should be familiar with Lord Sauron and his quest to rule middle earth. In this trilogy, Sauron (CIA) is the big bad guy, the evilest and most powerful entity in Middle Earth. And all of the might of the Fellowship and the free world is directed towards stopping this manifested evil. But do you know about Morgoth? If you don’t know, Morgoth is an Ainur in Tolkien mythology. The Ainur are divine spirits, Morgoth was the first and most powerful of them all. Morgoth is actually credited with creating Arda, which is the name Tolkien assigned to the whole earth where his stories took place. Morgoth created a whole planet. Sound familiar? The Holy Roman Empire or the Roman Catholic Church should definitely be credited with shaping huge portions of Earth. The Catholic Church has played a pivotal role in the creation of the Earth we live in now. That level of power isn’t common. Sauron on the other hand, can be seen as Morgoth’s greatest servant. So, while Sauron is the big bad guy in the LOTR trilogy he still serves a master, someone stronger and older than himself.
Now here comes E. Howard Hunt, a servant to the CIA (Sauron), and someone who was an active participant in the 1954 Coup, an event that then director of the CIA, Allen Dulles, would later describe as “one of the greatest accomplishments of my life.” Hunt is quoted as saying “We’ve (CIA/Sauron) always said in an admiring way that the Jesuits (Morgoth) form the greatest intelligence service in the world and always have.” In other words, if this is true, I’ve been under the impression that I had already found the end-all-be-all (Sauron) of this evil that ravage a nation, left over 200,000 Guatemalans dead, many of which were buried in mass graves, and forced my parents to look for a better life for themselves and their children abroad.
Maybe the CIA and my obsession with understanding IT is all just a dodge. Maybe I’ve been wrong this whole time. Maybe I’m wrong again. And again. But the work continues. The art never stops. Can’t stop. It’s the only thing that I think works anymore. Art.