reality: it ain’t necessarily so

At issue is whether meaning is an objective reality as opposed to an elaborated form of plain vanilla illusion arising from perception and dressed to the nines or is meaning a subjective reality, a fluid boundary shifter that reflects that the world we inhabit is kind of fake. A Society of the Spectacle mounted by necessity to convince us that we live in a real world despite the impression of being surrounded by actors and stand-ins where life is a scripted fraud with everyone behaving as actors.

…But what is reality? As the comedienne Lily Tomlin put it, “What is reality? Nothing but a collective hunch.” In other words, isn’t what we call “reality” in large measure socially constructed? How can we possibly say somebody is not well adjusted without knowing what they are supposed to be adjusted to? What if you are “not adjusted” to living in a Nazi society? Isn’t that a sign of mental health, not illness?…

---"I refuse to be intimidated by reality anymore. After all, what is reality anyway? Nothin' but a collective hunch. I made some studies: Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it." "My mind didn't snap, it was trying to stretch itself into a new shape. The cerebral cortex trying to grow a thumb of sorts."--- Read More: image:

…And thus, all of a sudden, if you want to define “mental illness” you have to define what a “healthy” society is. There is no other way to determine what is actually maladaptive! Maladaptive compared to what? “Sick” compared to what definition of health?

So then, as a theorist, you must start looking at different societies and cultures, in an attempt to understand how human beings in different times and places have defined “health” or “normality” or even “reality.” And this leads you very quickly into anthropology, or the study of the development of the human species at large.

So back you go into history and prehistory, trying to make sense of it all, trying to find what it means to be “normal,” because otherwise you have no way to define what it means to be “abnormal” or “sick;” and therefore — if you are honest — you have precisely nothing you can actually recommend to your patients. How can you “cure” them if you can’t even define “health”?…

---Foucault also insists that we have to abandon the common sense assumption that there is a real world outside ourselves and that we can have knowledge about it. This is another illusion of humanism, he claims. Our minds are confined to the realm of our language. Though he shares this assumption with structuralist theory, Foucault denied he was a structuralist. He took the 'primacy of language' thesis straight from Nietzsche. Through language, Nietzsche contended, human beings imposed their own arbitrary constructions of meaning on what would otherwise be nothing but chaos. If we could think of the world beyond our minds, Nietzschean philosophy holds, there would be none of our categories, causes, or hierarchies, and none of the boundries that we think separate these things and fashion these forms of order through language. Moreover, we should not think that our language reflects reality in any way, or that the words we use correspond in some direct sense to objects in the world outside. --- Read More: image:

So, we are continually confronted with theories of reality when in fact there is no fixed reality. It becomes a game replete with cheating, moving the goal posts, bribing the referees, which all help to maintain the illusion of reality which can be seen as being created as a means of control. There are too many variables that affect how we see reality. Just think of the issue of power, how a Donald Trump perceives compared to single welfare mother. Because we perceive, almost everything is a mirror, perhaps distorted or tricked, but a projection of an illusion that does not directly reflect reality. A filtering process. An altered copy, impure of the truth.

…And — I hate to divulge the inside secret of anthropology, but, there are no answers in anthropology. All you find is that human beings start to show up, say, 400,000 years ago. And then a bewildering variety of cultures and societies start to flourish, and thousands of different norms and rules and beliefs and practices and ideas and arts and everything else imaginable, simply explode on the scene.

So very soon you realize that you can’t even begin to make sense of all that without some sort of mental categories that will help you sort and classify and organize this differentiated mess. What is useful and not useful? What is good and bad? What is worthy and unworthy? What is true and false? And suddenly, you are a philosopher….

It seems we will always vascillate, be tempted between multiple planes of form and meaning, to the extent th

llusion and reality invoke confusion, each look as coming as the other, certainly enough to posit a strand of the origins of anxiety and trauma. In the end before we turn off the lights, we cannot say that what we see is actually the truth- maybe a question of feeling, faith, and intuition as composite sensation- because it is only a fragment of the illusion.

…Oh no! You cannot even begin to make sense of the human condition without looking deeply into philosophical issues. Even those who totally reject the importance or the validity of philosophy — they give philosophical reasons for the rejection! In other words, whether you like it or not, to be human is to be a philosopher, and your only choice is whether to be a good one or a bad one….

Zizek:The Wachowski brothers' hit Matrix (1999) brought this logic to its climax: the material reality we all experience and see around us is a virtual one, generated and coordinated by a gigantic mega-computer to which we are all attached; when the hero (played by Keanu Reeves) awakens into the "real reality," he sees a desolate landscape littered with burned ruins - what remained of Chicago after a global war. The resistance leader Morpheus utters the ironic greeting: "Welcome to the desert of the real." Was it not something of the similar order that took place in New York on September 11? Its citizens were introduced to the "desert of the real" - to us, corrupted by Hollywood, the landscape and the shots we saw of the collapsing towers could not but remind us of the most breathtaking scenes in the catastrophe big productions. When we hear how the bombings were a totally unexpected shock, how the unimaginable Impossible happened, one should recall the other defining catastrophe from the beginning of the XXth century, that of Titanic: it was also a shock, but the space for it was already prepared in ideological fantasizing, since Titanic was the symbol of the might of the XIXth century industrial civilization. Does the same not hold also for these bombings? Not only were the media bombarding us all the time with the talk about the terrorist threat; this threat was also obviously libidinally invested - just recall the series of movies from Escape From New York to Independence Day. Therein resides the rationale of the often-mentioned association of the attacks with the Hollywood disaster movies: the unthinkable which happened was the object of fantasy, so that, in a way, America got what it fantasized about, and this was the greatest surprise.--- Read More:

…And so, once you decide that you want to try to be a good philosopher, then this tends to happen: if, as a philosopher, you ever allow yourself to decide that you have some actual conclusions — about the nature of reality, the nature of human beings, of spirit, of the good and the true and the beautiful — than you very quickly realize that it is absolutely mandatory to try to make society a place in which the greatest number of people are free to pursue the good and the true and the beautiful. That becomes a burning categorical imperative, and it eats into your soul with its unrelenting moral demand.

As Foucault pointed out, one of the many great things about Kant is that he was the first modern philosopher to ask the crucial question, What does it mean for a society to be enlightened (in Kant’s essay, “What is Enlightenment?”)? In other words, not just “enlightenment” for you or me, but for society at large! Or Karl Marx: philosophers in the past have merely tried to understand reality, whereas the real task is to change it. To be socially committed!And so, as a modern philosopher, you are suddenly in the broad field of political theory. You realize that Bodhisattvas are going to have to become politicians, as weird as that might initially sound. Read More:


Yet he also offers a bleak analysis of how we are brought to see a form of reality which considerably narrows our view of what is possible and identifies how, in our own time, our perceptions of sexuality might be being used for this very purpose. He shows, too, that despite the opportunities for resistance a normalising process results from the effective problematisation of (arguably equally valid) modes of existence. Therefore, while it might be possible to draw comfort from his view that power outcomes are not inevitable and can be resisted, he offers no revolutionary option (what, indeed, would we revolt against?) His message to those who want to do more than just study the mass media but somehow affect the outcomes is really no more than “It ain’t necessarily so” but in an age when arguably a false certainty is a major barrier to change, maybe “It ain’t necessarily so” is in fact a particularly potent message. Read More:
Richard Kazis:Benjamin argues that under capitalism, the mechanical reproduction of reality onto film not only fails to be progressive, but it is dangerous. This is due, in part, to the vary nature of film. Before the painting. Benjamin notes,

“the spectator can abandon himself to his associations. Before the movie frame he cannot do so. No sooner has his eye grasped a scene than it is already changed” .

The film draws the viewer along. As Duhamel is quoted,

“I can no longer think what I want to think. My thoughts have been replaced by moving images” .

For this reason, the propaganda value of film is great, greater than that of a painting or another more static art form that invites the spectator to contemplation. The Nazis knew this well: Leni Riefenstahl’s films are cases in point. The films are awesome. inspiring, even “artful,” yet they try to sweep the spectator along in a mystified passion for the cult of Führer and Fatherland.

The film is the art and communications medium for modern times, Benjamin claims. He writes in a footnote,

“The film is the art form that is in keeping with the increased threat to his life which modern man (sic) has to face” .

Further, film is the only medium that can reproduce the masses and bring them face to face with themselves.

“Mass movements are usually discernible more clearly by a camera than by the naked eye … The image received by the eye cannot be enlarged the way a negative is enlarged. This means that mass movements, including war, constitute a form of human behavior which particularly favors mechanical equipment” .

The struggle for the allegiance of the masses, the central political struggle of our tines, cannot help but revolve around the use and abuse of the film medium. Read More:

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