Check This Out

At the Safeway check out, between “People” and “O,” a magazine commemorated the 55th anniversary of JFK’s assassination. “From the secret files of ‘The National Enquirer,’” it said. “LBJ ordered the murder.” “Brother Bobby stole president’s brain.”
It occurred to Goshkin, based on the rack space this magazine commanded, that belief that a conspiracy lay behind this murder had penetrated American culture more deeply than he had believed.
His friend Fortsch, an early believer in the responsibility of a particularly vast and elegant conspiracy, had explained that the Warren Commission had been ordered to cover it up because, had the truth been known, the American people would have arisen and overthrown those in power. It occurred to Goshkin that this belief in the American people had been misplaced.
Fortsch had later explained that the reason so many other conspiracies had come to flourish, conspiracies involving, among others, the CIA, Mafia, Cubans, Russians, and Texans, was that those in power had fostered them in order to taint by association with their lunacy the one true conspiracy, which was the one in which Fortsch believed. It had occurred to Goshkin that, while this might be true, the same argument could be made by believers in each of the other conspiracies.
Goshkin had once admitted to Fortsch that his resistance to belief in the vast and elegant conspiracy was motivated, at least in part, by an unwillingness to accept that our fates were in the hands of such an all-powerful cabal of evil-doers. Fortsch had accepted this concession. But when Goshkin later posited that Fortsch’s own belief was motivated, at least in part, by an unwillingness to accept that our fates were in the hands of a random universe in which a nebish like Oswald could kill a mensch like Kennedy, Fortsch replied that Goshkin was in league with the coverer-uppers.
It occurred to Goshkin that everyone wove a cocoon of the meaningful around him/herself, be it religion, politics, family, art, the Oakland Raiders, the Grateful Dead, within which to hunker against the emptiness and chill.