Welcome to La-la Land

We are lost in images.

Prom night. These girls are in love - obsessed, consumed - by an image. The image is of the fantasy prom, or a disney princess. The most likely source of this image is a film.

We make the mistake of thinking that our fantasy images can be real. We seek to bring them over into the real world, blurring the line between fantasy and reality.

For these girls the dress, the makeup - the 'prettifying' or 'slutifying' - are not about wanting to appeal to boys; even if from the outside it would appear so. Boys have nothing to do with it. It is about realising the fantasy image. The real world signifiers (short skirt =  male attention) become insignificant next to the fantasy signifiers (short skirt = what the fantasy person wears, i.e. fulfilment of image). Meaning is lost in a world of cut-out fantasy images.

The reality of the situation (the actual prom) threatens to bring the person back down to earth, because reality cannot compare to fantasy. But instead of realising our mistake and relinquishing our images, we attempt to twist reality to fit our fantasies. We dismiss what is real, making everything unreal.

On this charge, film has a lot to answer for.

Films sell us fantasies that get lodged in our brains. They give us images that we are compelled to realise - make us chase apparitions - and they do it without us even realising. Their images filter into our subconscious, sneaking in through the back door. Before we know it we have built layer upon layer on top of them. We have based our hopes and dreams - our lives - upon them. They become near impossible to dislodge without risking a total breakdown.

And often all of this happens whilst we are young. Their images become so ingrained and prevalent that we may even think that they are part of the natural order; that human beings naturally desire these things and that, importantly, there is no viable alternative. Once you've built a skyscraper it seems like madness to knock it down to check its foundations.

Films are not the only culprit; and the symptoms of our 2D culture are not just confined to young girls who want to be princesses.

When an image - the short skirt, the revealed leg - becomes detached from its real world signifier - male attention - meaning gets lost. When this happens over and over again, it becomes the norm.

We are in a culture that encourages us to lose sight of reality. One thing can mean a million things. Play around, be creative. It needn't mean that. It needn't mean anything. Eveything is unanchored.

From a narrow perspective this all seems like good fun. Life is short, so play around while you can. But there are severe consequences.

Through repetition of this pattern, we are becoming more and more conditioned to only look for the image, and not for the truth that lies underneath it. As long as you say you're sorry convincingly enough then I don't care whether you actually are or not. I'm only interested in the speech, the sensation: not the reality.

We are becoming conditioned to stop short at the surface, and to not look beyond it. Ours is a superficial culture, in most senses of the word.

In some contexts we may be able to convince ourselves that this is a harmless development. But in others we cannot.

Politicians need no longer even make a show of sticking to their word. They can say one thing whilst openly doing another, just as long as the way in which they said it is convincing enough; that it sounded right, good, strong. They can be as dishonest as they like, as long as they have the right stuff; a winning smile, an air of heroism, a good marketing campaign.

Politics, as with so many things, has become unanchored. We need only look at the majority of our media coverage to see that it is almost entirely show. Journalists - by name only - touch every superficial detail whilst circumventing the mundane and often inconvenient reality. 

When a person loses sight of what is real and what is fantasy we generally seem to consider them a bit barmy. If we can, we try and bring them back to the real world, remind them of what is true and what is false.

Collectively we are going barmy. Can we bring ourselves back to the real world?


Related posts:-
The Real Thing
The Tyranny of Novelty
Life Amongst the Rubble
Post-modernist Soup
The Perils of Radical Subjectivity 
Information and Knowledge
Tasteful Distance
Arrows pointing at Arrows
Leaving the Vessel
Only Playing

You ought to be more like me

A note on difference and criticism

Most people do not want to hear criticism because they are solid, like statues. They are not open to change and are primarily interested in defending themselves - i.e. in defending the shape that they have become. They are not interested in becoming a different shape and so defend against attacks that may crack, shatter, or otherwise deform them.

At the opposite end of the scale are people who are more fluid. They have not settled on a shape. These people are more open to things that may deform them, including criticism. They are less likely to defend against an attack, inasmuch as they perceive themselves as having less to lose by being deformed. They are shape-shifters. Now this shape, now that. Like a liquid, they can fill many forms.

Neither of these is inherently better or more desirable than the other. One might be more adaptive - more favourable - in a certain context, just as the other is more favourable in a different context. Each has its place.

Because they are more able to adapt and change, fleixble people are more able to see, speak and act upon the Truth. They are its natural guardians. This is because the Truth may often be at odds with the way we live, with who we have become. It may point out inconvenient and disturbing things about us. To act upon the Truth (and to a lesser extent to see and speak it) requires those who are able to adapt themselves to it, regardless of where its trail leads.

It is therefore the role of the flexible people to steer the rest in light of wisdom, of the Truth.

It is the role of solid people to bring weight, balance and consistency to the whole. They add reality. Liquids cannot hold a form; but solid things can.

They must, therefore, be as they are and must not seek to change. They must accept their various shapes. When viewed from the context of the whole species, these people - hard and soft, curved and straight, large and narrow - all balance each other; just as the ballast on a ship must be correctly positioned to provide both weight and balance. These are people of substance and integrity. Without ballast a sailing boat may be capsized by the wind in its sails. Ballast - weight - keeps it steady.

It is, therefore, both unfair and short-sighted for those who steer - those more flexible types - to criticise a solid person for being what they are, for their solidity (be it  too large, too narrow, too hard, or too soft).

And visa-versa. Fluid types must not be criticised for their lack of solidity. As with the sailing boat, society needs both, for different reasons.

Criticism is only truly useful in helping another see themselves more clearly. At best, it provides clarity. It leads, in other words, toward Truth. And Truth being the province of flexible types, criticism is rightly theirs and theirs only. It is their tool, a double-edged sword, wielded in the name of Truth. In medieval times honour dictated that a knight in armour  must only battle with another also in armour, and a similar rule applies here. The sword of Truth must only be used against another of like-kind; never against a solid person. Criticism is, after all, irrelevant to someone who cannot - and should not - change.


Related posts:-
Small Part/Large System
Small Mind/Large Mind 
Everything is Connected
Maintaining the Balance
The Colour Wheel 
The Colour Spiral
Assuming a position
Get Real