What, in short, is in the periphery of Adonis, what in the shadows, behind the movie set kitchen? What is left unsaid? I can’t help but fantasize about the contents of the superhero’s garbage can. Does he recycle? What’s left of the now contaminated residuum of those single-serving wrappers of Cliff Bars? Are his Almond milk containers and plastic jugs of pea protein clogging up a landfill? Those leftover tins of tuna and sacks of raw, organic almonds, once lovingly stored in his stainless steel Frigidaire, now finding their way to the ocean to be inhaled by a sperm whale?
This may be dismissed off-hand as the bizarre world of the madman, but it’s indicative of a broader social pattern of grave suspicion of social reality, a kind of full flowering reifying the post-truth world we’ve found ourselves in. Entertainment has conquered reality after all, and buried the world of facts with it. Everything became suspicious, cynical. Art or entertainment no longer a reflection of the real world, but its hall of mirrors absorbing reality itself. Only when everything became an absorbing simulation, reality became somehow more melodramatic. It was emotional. It was meaner, fearful, dumber. The masters of the suspicion proliferated in tandem with the explosion of the phony world, and everyone’s lost their minds.
La Mer from Fragile Dignity on Vimeo.
The great derangement in this society is precisely the manner in which a culture falls apart. And this is why there is no easy fix. It’s like we’re approaching a socioeconomic event horizon. In physics, the event horizon is the zone where time and space and reality are warped beyond all recognition as one enters into a black hole. We’re in the middle of this process sociologically, approaching the singularity of capitalism, entering the final acceleration where the fabric of this social reality will become more and more insane, reality turned upside-down, where the earth really does seem flat and fascist, in-real-life social reality molded by Facebook algorithms. Where we see all the paranoid tropes and fears and desires whiz by faster and faster so that we can never keep up with the 500 television shows we can’t seem to turn off vying for our ever shorter attentions, where our deranged reality becomes spaghetti-fied and ripped apart at the seams.
Yet we are trained by the stories of this self-styled individualism, its attendant self-obsession over personal wounds and desires that must be faced. As if stories were there to serve only a private therapeutic function. This basic level of selfish heroism is in fact a fantasy. And perhaps, I suppose it could be argued, a necessary one in some respects because it is itself a bulwark against an unbearable reality of our own foolishness, our own meaninglessness, our own boredom, the slow tedium of everyday life. We are, perhaps all, in fact becoming Walter Mittys – or perhaps a better more recent example is Sam Lowry from the film Brazil – one of the quintessential American heroic tropes. We’re all timid bored milquetoasts trapped in an addicted consumer-driven neoliberal dystopian nightmare who increasingly rely on heroic fantasy to cope with reality becoming more and more unbearable.