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