from KingsleyDennis Website
Our materialistic mode of life is accelerating and expanding so rapidly that it is saturating our modern cultures to the point of abstraction. Life in materially-privileged societies is increasingly shifting into a world of image and show.
Many people today are
living within their bubbles that are customized by all the digital
conveniences tailored to individual needs. By being surrounded by
conveniences that satisfy all our needs we are deliberately
excluding so much else, including all of life's serendipities.
One result of this is that things which once stood in opposition to one another are losing their meaning and becoming indistinguishable. That is, fixed identities that used to make life easy for us - us/them, friend/enemy, good/bad, and the rest - are now more like false realities...
Life has shifted, or has been pushed, into a realm of invention that is being exploited ever more overtly by politicians, mainstream media, and their propaganda machinery.
Out of this, a different sense of reality has emerged that succeeds in absorbing differences and contradictions and making them seem smooth rather than jagged.
And the result is what I
refer to as
And this smoothness is presented as succulent and easy to swallow. Our modern cultures want us to think that they are simple, smooth, and therefore require our willing obedience.
As a consequence, many of us no longer know, or care in knowing, where the resistance is. And if we do feel the need to express resistance, we find ourselves at a loss of where it should be placed. The 'smooth ideal' is that society is managed so there can be no efficient resistance against it.
This is what Herbert Marcuse once referred to as a,
The hyperreal evades any real contact. It is like being at the end of a phone call when waiting for the automated voice service. This evasive strategy of the hyperreal has succeeded in obscuring any site of resistance.
It's all so 'real,' and
yet of course it is not.
We are no longer faced
with the threat of struggling with our shadows - we are now faced
with the threat of our clones. This may be the radical illusion we
are slipping into.
The notion of illusion is not the main issue - rather, it is the medium through which it is conveyed. Or, more importantly, whether it is deliberately exaggerated and amplified.
And how, by who - and why?
Illusion is now perhaps our greatest industry, especially in western societies. Illusion is the consensus story we are told when growing up and which we all believe in. It's the story that's always been told because,
No wonder there is so much confusion, which is then fed by another great western industry:
Hyperreality plays a somewhat different game, with new rules and a different deck of cards. The paradox today is that those of us caught up in the game have no idea what the gameplay is.
This is similar to a Jorge Luis Borges short story 'The Lottery in Babylon' where all activities in life are governed by the lottery; that is, by chance. And the lottery is run by 'The Company,' the rules of which not only are the rules of the game but become the rules of life.
If that's not confusing
enough, then we need another hyperreality pill...
There is an underlying feeling that something is not quite right, yet our sense of reality often appears so extreme that it becomes 'extra-plausible.'
It appears that strange walls of falsehood are being erected between the individual and what is real. The result is a distortion of how we see things. In other words, a perception distortion.
To put it simply,
When mass society adheres to a collective delusion we call it normal, or 'reality,' and if one person strays too far from this consensus thinking then we often label them as delusional, or unstable.
It is as if we have been struck by on-coming car headlights and we are like dazed rabbits in the middle of the road.
Better not sit around too
long wagging our fluffy tails!
Any basis of truth has slipped into the sleek substitution - the simulation.
Let me ask a question:
There is no more truth in politics than there is in someone wearing a laboratory coat in a television commercial trying to persuade us to buy a particular brand of detergent.
There is persuasion and falsity that parades as an element of truth, yet it is a pure simulation.
We have slipped into an
age where the new 'reality principle' tells us that nothing is out
of reach and that almost everything can be bought for a price. That
is, the real is solid and exists as the flow of goods, services,
desires, wants, pleasures, and an almost instant availability.
Perhaps we are already in this state right now; after all, the hyperreal is contagious, like a chain reaction.
In the hyperreal world the space of communications is condensed into the simultaneous now; marginal spaces on the periphery are now the hidden spaces where secrecy flows in offshore networks.
Our networks of mobility and movement are fragmented into those that privilege some and exclude the many.
Even the space above our heads is colonized by the satellites that spy on us. We have street views being watched and analyzed by Google. Our movement, speech, and text being spied on, processed, and interpreted by intelligent algorithms.
We have injected a
'smart-virus' into the Earth in order to monitor all activity.
Only the hyperreal economies remain in the spotlight. There is now a global offshore world that moves in exclusive, mostly secretive networks.
The phenomenon of offshoring has transformed peripheral and marginal places into central nodes. Offshored economies had mostly operated in the unseen shadows until the scandal of the Panama Papers in 2015. This massive leaking of documents led to political and celebrity scandals across the world, forcing many politicians to resign from their coveted positions.
Presidents are now further pressed to release their tax returns to prove their legitimacy.
Yet with the farce within
the hyperreal, such players as US President
Donald Trump can evade these
processes with blatant deceptions. Offshored secrecy and
surveillance are central to the functioning of contemporary
Our urban habitats,
information flows, financial transactions, have all shown increased
density at the same time as velocity. Financial crashes today are
more explosive because they affect so many more systems on a global
level. They are dense in their complexity.
Within these extremities we lose touch with anything that once came close to the real...
We are in the slipstream
of the hyperreal where the substitute replaces its former host. And
the substitute is 'always-on' 24/7.
We can be in the office while speaking with colleagues across the globe; or chatting with friends on another continent whilst remaining seated on our sofas. The contradiction here is that hypermobility creates its own sedentary life.
This was explored in the
Surrogates (2009) where people
purchase remote-controlled humanoid robots to conduct their social
life and affairs whilst the real person remains at home wired to
their chair. Of course, everyone chooses a pretty or handsome
humanoid to represent them (just like avatars in the online world)
whilst their real bodies lie fat and underused in the unmoving
It has all happened too quickly for us and our senses have not fully adjusted. Some of us are struggling with aching bodies, restless sleep cycles, and tired eyes from all the screens in our lives. It is not motion sickness we are suffering from more and more but monitor sickness.
One of the features of
hyperreality is that communication occurs extremely rapidly, and we
are bombarded with information almost constantly.
Then the next day they have disappeared into a black hole of amnesia and replaced by another twenty-four-hour dose of attention-topics.
This hyperreal lifestyle
creates a background noise; a seemingly endless low static buzz that
infests our everyday spaces. It's like the static we experience when
changing radio channels, or when a digital television channel isn't
This is the dilemma...
The hyperreal takes the wounded soul and Photoshops it into a caricature of its former self. It becomes glorified and falsely beautified into the less real, but with hyper-appeal. Events and issues are glossed over, making truths little more than quick sound-bites that flash before our eyes.
Despite these absurdities
we are still living in a world that is physically very
We wish to know as much as possible about what is going on in our environment because this used to be an evolutionary survival strategy for our ancestors.
Yet our distant ancestors didn't have the Internet, smartphones, and a whole array of connected gadgets - they had clubs and hatchets.
We've changed our rhythms, or rather our new technologically-pervasive environment has altered our rhythms, and we've not had sufficient time biologically, as well as psychologically, to adjust.
We are waking up to a world in a new rhythm, with a new, faster speed and an altered resonance; and frankly for most of us it makes us feel as if we're partially inebriated.
The world is making our children respond to its hyperreal energy, and then subsequently we go about tranquilizing them.
The rise of young schoolchildren in the modern world taking medications for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is phenomenal. In such a world it becomes much harder to practice and maintain certain types of attention, such as,
We are accessing
information, yet less so are we translating this information into
rich, interior states or memories.
We need to retain our attentiveness instead of giving in to the lazy approach of digitally-offloading our attention. We cannot navigate our own path through life by GPS.
At the same time, retaining attention should not require artificial, chemical inducers. Nor should it require copious amounts of fantasy masquerading as the real.
Many highly developed cultures are already basking in the 'Disneyfication' effect where western commercial pursuits, practices, and values are promoted around the world as a panacea for all.
Disneyfication gives us bigger, faster, and better entertainment that's the same the world over - US mass culture values on the global stage. Disneyfication hides the 'real' places, yet paradoxically many people seem to prefer being in the imaginary.
Perhaps its real function is to make us believe that the rest of society is imaginary and only that which resides within the walls of Disney is real. In the hyperreal the spectacle becomes the lived space of our social lives.
Disney is colonizing our
lives and that colonization becomes the new world map.
This 'imaginary map' finally became the only remaining reality of the great Empire:
This is where the Real
loses its center and becomes origin-less.
We are given new maps of celebration and celebrity that hide a commodity fetishism - yet where is the meaning?
We crave for meaning...
Many of us are in this situation:
The answer lies in becoming beyond difference.
Life has always been a sequence of events that we ascribe meaning too. When we experience this sequence in a reasonable enough form then we create our meanings.
It is when this sequence of events and signs becomes asymmetrical, non-linear, or accelerated beyond our limits of standardized perception that we begin to lose our ability to ascribe significance to it.
Hyperreality is the zone where this slippage occurs and meaning loses its anchorage. The result is that we feel we are being carried away from ourselves.
We are being pulled into
the flux and flow of this hyperreality and we lose sight of the
ground. Not only the grounded-ness of place, but also our inner
ground - that part of us which makes us feel human. It is the
soulful part of us that we are losing.
We should remember that the 'Real' exists somewhere inside of us and keep this in mind as the world outside continues its head-long rush into a frenetic, whirlwind of chaotic events.
In the end, we can only truly rely on our own good sense and intuition.
As Václev Havel stated in one of his addresses,
We must try to remain stable and as sane as possible as life accelerates into its own hyperreality. Otherwise we may not find our own center within the global maelstrom.
The ride has only just