Exit Woodward and Bernstein, enter Jack Bauer. We’re in fantasy land now: all the president’s men can put Humpty Dumpty back together again. We’ll stop those bullets. We’ll put Jack’s skull back together. We’ll restore our timeline. We’ll recriminate. If only in fiction.
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.
What strikes me about this is that mass media society has total domination of our cultural memory. We scarcely have any cultural memory from before film or television.
Contrary to the cry for myth of Rollo May and Joseph Campbell who prescribed myth as a panacea, America really is drowning in fictions, myths and fantasies, and is ever more engulfed in an entire simulacrum of illusions. We’re not starved of myth so much as we’re starved of grounded Reason.
If the simulation of empire is broken – what sort of blowback might be a fitting comeuppance from these Frankenstein’d gunslingsers from Frontierland? What sort of robojihad might they wage against McWorld’s future technotopia? What other vengences, what other of hell’s gates from the depths of history might be woken once simulation’s zero death game is betrayed?
Jean Baudrillard once made a startling claim, or perhaps it was more a kind of desecration of our shared illusion, when he stated that it is banal to claim that the apocalypse is in the future. Rather, the apocalyptic event is something that occurred in the past. It’s a kind of statement that is like tossing a rock into the middle of a pond, it’s ripples will find every edge of our social reality. The apocalypse is everywhere around us, we just have to be able to call it for what it is: the dystopia of the present. Much of our movie culture, as evidenced by the domination of Disney and Marvel blockbusters, is enthralled with fantasy, rosy hopes, and glossy, polished reflections of our spectacle. It takes a special motion picture to tear the veil away and have the courage to find the dignity within the desert of the real.
When I was taking life science in middle school, there seemed to be an overwhelming concern with the ecosystem in all the chapters of the textbook and in most of the lectures we were presented. It […]