A phenomenal critical success when first produced by Western Theatre Conspiracy in 2004, Omniscience is much more than a murder-mystery set in a quasi-familiar contemporary landscape of high-tech urban warfare. The plot, not surprisingly optioned already for a movie, is redolent with untrustworthy “embedded” journalists manufacturing positivist pseudodocumentaries about the ongoing victories of our military forces over any and all stripes of vaguely defined terrorists, hell-bent on destroying the “wellness” of our contemporary “free society.” We recognize immediately the storyline’s seamless meld with everyone’s favourite post-9/11 reality TV show, the Evening News. On reflection, however, that recognition is strangely discomforting if not downright threatening.
Omniscience subtly and relentlessly begs the question of how many of our freedoms we have already lost to the institutions engaged in our surveillance “for our own protection” and the uses they make of the power over our lives we have voluntarily abrogated to them through our support of such phenomena as The Patriot Act, anti-terrorism legislation and Operation Enduring Freedom. But ubiquitous surveillance has become a fact of our everyday lives not only in our public acts, but also in our private spaces where increasingly every conversation we have is monitored for the purposes of corporate and careerist “quality control.” What is so unique about Omniscience is not its patently transparent storyline, but its dialogue which so utterly reconfigures language that nouns become verbs, making all human actions a reflection of “industry standards” and corporate “best practices,” and verbs become nouns, so that no one can do, and everyone just is—no independent thought or action is conceivable that is not based on its ideal and preconceived corporatist template. What is so unsettlingly disturbing about Omniscience is how perfectly accomplished Tim Carlson is in his “dialoguing” of the corporatist, military-industrial Newspeak of our age.