Let me upset all you conspiracy theorists. JFK was assassinated by a loner called Lee Harvey Oswald and Princess Diana died in a tragic car accident. Yes, I know, it’s so boring, but so is much of life. And maybe this is the point about such events.
The reality of the life of JFK and Diana was that they were far from boring. Rather, they were sensational; so to admit that their deaths may not be as sensational as their life is a bit of a let down. Maybe we need to invent something more, to do justice to who they were.
This does, infact, fit into a historical pattern. Although seemingly different people, JFK and Diana were charismatic and died tragically young.
The template for this kind of death was set two millennia ago with Jesus Christ, who was also charismatic and died tragically young. With Jesus, it was not acceptable that he could have a normal death, so almost immediately we find the beginnings of a conspiracy. Judas betrays him, and the Sanhedrin conspire to have him executed.
After the event, the death cannot, of course, be normal. Rather, he is Resurrected – he cheats death – and finally ascends to Heaven under his own terms. And in this way, the whole thing is sensational.
JFK and Diana share the sociology of the above – and in more ways than this. For instance, all three were in the business of changing society. Indeed, following them, society DID change. So could it be that it was the event of the death that became a catalyst for change?
If we accept this as a possibility, then we can see how additional factors are placed upon the death by a social need for them to be seen as iconic. Which brings us to a simple point about an event. Is an event a circumstance in itself, or does our appreciation of the event after the event become part of the event too?
Basically, what I’m hinting at, here, is that there is a ‘relativity’ to an event which automatically takes into account the impressions people have of the event. And what is remembered is not the event itself, but a social history stamped upon it.
In times past the social processes involved formed new religions. Today, we live in a more secular society, so to satisfy the need to sensationalise a point of social change, we have invented conspiracy theory to keep the process going.
Hence, conspiracy theory may be a thing to be ridiculed by many. But it could well have an important social function. But I still think JFK was killed by a nutter, and Diana died in a pointless accident.
© Anthony North, Feb 2007