Monday, May 14, 2007

Some Thoughts on One of My Favorite Pet Topics

I am afraid that my original blogging site is not going to last much longer. It has been down more than up recently, it seems, and that has resulted in many bloggers leaving. Pity. It was so fun back in its heyday.

I am transferring a lot of my posts from there to my other blogs. This one was originally found here. Over at that site, I'd written rather a lot, in both posts and comments, on reality and illusion and their relationship. This post was just some random thoughts I'd collected along the way.

I guess it's no secret that I have a little pet topic that I often like to revisit, that being our perceptions of reality and illusion. I am particularly interested in how this question intersects with the arts. One of the things I loved about Malcolm Campbell's novel The Sun Singer is his exploration of the connection between reality and our perceptions and representations of reality.

I've written enough blogs about this topic already, probably, but the topic always attracts my attention when I come across it. I don't have the energy or the clear head at the moment (I'm in a jetlagged fog) to post a well-crafted blog on the topic. But I have recently come across a few things that might be of interest to anyone who doesn't mind exploring my pet topic a bit further with me.

David Slavitt writes in his article "My Movie Years: George, Zsa Zsa, and Others" in the most recent issue of Boulevard:

What movie stars are for, after all, is to provide an iconography for our private lives. From their enlargements, distortions, and simplifications, we find a kind of clarity.

Heidegger, Husserl, and Merleau-Ponty are not the philosophers for the masses, or even Ortega y Gassett. Those are Bruce Willis and Tom Cruise and Julia Roberts. We project. Or, more accurately, we ingest, find our representatives and incorportate them, taking what we can of their styles and stances as a way of facing the vicissitudes and opportunities of life.
(p. 83 of No. 64)

This all reminded me of some recent posts by Celebrity Talk, such as this and this. It brings to mind an older post of hers too. (And searching for an older post of hers is a quick reminder of how prolific a writer she is!)

Slavitt has more:

It is only slightly awkward to be writing about a movie star I never met, but it is more accurate, more representative. How many ordinary people get to hobnob with film stars, after all? It is irrelevant. The part they play in our lives does not depend on personal contact but is a matter of mostly projection and fantasy. The actual human being has little to do with the transaction. (p. 84-85)

That brings to mind a very profound observation by my godchildren recently. Here's the conversation, roughly:

Them: [singing Eine Kleine Nachtmusik]
Me: Wow! You know Mozart!
Them: Of course we know Mozart, we hear him every day. He's on Little Einsteins.
Me: Yeah, I like Mozart. He is one of my favourites.
Them: He's not real, you know. He is a cartoon.

Cute/funny as that is, it is the same notion expressed by Slavitt. How real are these personalities which seem to become so much a part of our lives, though we've never seen them? Are they just cartoons? I guess I would say that in our lives, yes, they are just "cartoons," despite whatever reality they are attached to elsewhere. It is an odd thing, isn't it? This detachment from reality of the media personalities we allow into our lives and our homes.

I guess this ends my notes and scattered reflections for the moment. I've posted enough about it elsewhere, with more fully developed thoughts. Other blogs I've written that address these ideas include these:

Real or Imagined, What is the difference?

Paying a Visit, again

I Don't Know Much About Writing

Rip Off Reporting

The Enemy of Thought

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