Sunday, June 24, 2007

The unreal real...

In his book, Mediated, Thomas de Zengotita talks about the overload of information and compares it to "The Blob." It swallows all the sharp edges and reduces things to soundbites and 15 second video clips. It lives on reflexitivy...making everything about us. We are all like method actors in our own lives, and in the lives of others. We deal with 9/11 or Katrina or the VT shootings by being so supersaturated by constant barrage of information that we must deal with it in a way that dulls the edge of the realness, the pain, and discomfort. One way to do that is to make real events unreal and live events non-live. We see video clips of the World Trade Center collapsing and we watch a movie by the same name. We see "live" video coverage that happened in the past, so it's not not technically "live. But it is...but we detach. It's a movie, no, it's real...and the movies are more real than the live TV. I'm confused, are you? The Blog has rounded the edges and absorbed the thing outside it. The event is covered, analyzed, dissected. It becomes representational. And the Blob moves on to the Next Event that can be absorbed.

Of course we know the difference. When we think about it. When we take the time to separate how the real and the unreal effect us dozens of times a day. When we think about it and analyze what we are seeing and feeling. But in the mix we usually don't.

We can't get outside The Blog, so it's hard to really look at. It's the state of our world. Watch The Queen, and you see our mediated world in action at the death of Diana. The people became part of the play. Reflexivity ruled the day. We are part of the action, the purpose, the meaning. The mourners took control and wrote the script, and the Death of Di becomes an Event-Story. The Queen capitulates to the nation of mourners who were taking the Event-Story and making it as much about them, their grief, as about Di.

Read the book. It doesn't provide "answers." There are no answers. There is reality, and we need to be aware of what our world is really like. It's a very interesting world!

1 comment:

Karen said...

This book is a "life-changer" in the sense of how we view ourselves and our world. It doesn't prescribe any actual changes to be made - which would be ridiculous :D - but rather exposes how we experience our lives today (quite differently, I would guess, from the people in the "World Food Photo Essay" sitting next to their bags of grain). It is certainly not the same as even 10 years ago and never will be again.

Our technologically enabled and enhanced self-consciousness has provided the ability and necessity to reflect upon *everything* (making actual *action* considerably more deliberate).

Love the book (almost done!), but skip the chapter on Politics (unless you're rather fond of Clinton and find Bush intolerable). His points on their styles and abilities were point on, but things got a little unnecessarily personal (JMHO).