By Kingsley L. Dennis | kingsleydennis.com
‘The attraction of the void is irresistible.’ ~ Jean Baudrillard
For those who really feel like you’re not sure of what’s actual and what’s unreal then you aren’t alone. Our materialistic mode of life is accelerating and increasing so quickly that it’s saturating our trendy cultures to the purpose of abstraction. Life in materially-privileged societies is more and more shifting right into a world of picture and present. Many individuals at this time live inside their bubbles which are custom-made by all of the digital conveniences tailor-made to particular person wants. By being surrounded by conveniences that fulfill all our wants we’re intentionally excluding a lot else, together with all of life’s serendipities.
Actuality – no matter that’s or was – has retreated behind a spectacle of make-believe that’s enjoying at being the brand new, shimmering façade for the 21st century. One results of that is that issues which as soon as stood in opposition to at least one one other are dropping their which means and turning into indistinguishable. That’s, fastened identities that used to make life straightforward for us – us/them, good friend/enemy, good/dangerous, and the remaining – at the moment are extra like false realities. Life has shifted, or has been pushed, right into a realm of invention that’s being exploited ever extra overtly by politicians, mainstream media, and their propaganda equipment. Out of this, a special sense of actuality has emerged that succeeds in absorbing variations and contradictions and making them appear clean moderately than jagged. And the result’s what I confer with as hyperreality.
The hyperreality capsule
It’s not the jagged capsule we’re pressured to swallow, however the clean capsule we’re prepared to pop. And this smoothness is introduced as succulent and straightforward to swallow. Our trendy cultures need us to assume that they’re easy, clean, and subsequently require our prepared obedience. As a consequence, many people not know, or care in understanding, the place the resistance is. And if we do really feel the necessity to categorical resistance, we discover ourselves at a lack of the place it must be positioned. The ‘smooth ideal’ is that society is managed so there could be no environment friendly resistance towards it. That is what Herbert Marcuse as soon as known as a ‘comfortable, smooth, reasonable, democratic unfreedom.’ The hyperreal evades any actual contact. It’s like being on the finish of a telephone name when ready for the automated voice service. This evasive technique of the hyperreal has succeeded in obscuring any website of resistance. It’s all so ‘real,’ and but in fact it isn’t.
The unique notion of hyperreality (a time period borrowed from semiotics and postmodern concept) is an lack of ability of consciousness to differentiate actuality from a simulation of actuality, particularly in technologically superior societies. We’re not confronted with the specter of fighting our shadows – we at the moment are confronted with the specter of our clones. This can be the novel phantasm we’re slipping into.
But the novel phantasm of the world has been confronted by all cultures. It has been described by mystics, symbolized by artwork, and struggled over by philosophers. The notion of phantasm just isn’t the primary concern – moderately, it’s the medium by way of which it’s conveyed. Or, extra importantly, whether or not it’s intentionally exaggerated and amplified. And the way, by who – and why? Phantasm is now maybe our biggest business, particularly in western societies. Phantasm is the consensus story we’re advised when rising up and which all of us consider in. It’s the story that’s all the time been informed as a result of ‘that’s the best way it’s all the time been.’ No marvel there’s a lot confusion, which is then fed by one other nice western business – remedy.
Hyperreality performs a considerably totally different recreation, with new guidelines and a unique deck of playing cards. The paradox at the moment is that these of us caught up within the recreation do not know what the gameplay is. That is just like a Jorge Luis Borges brief story ‘The Lottery in Babylon’ the place all actions in life are ruled by the lottery; that’s, by probability. And the lottery is run by ‘The Company,’ the principles of which not solely are the principles of the sport however develop into the principles of life. If that’s not complicated sufficient, then we’d like one other hyperreality capsule.
Please sir, can I’ve some extra hyperreality?
Hyperreality – the lack to differentiate the actual from simulation – has grow to be our new actuality construction (notion set) and is constructed so that everybody believes in it and goes together with it. There is an underlying feeling that one thing just isn’t fairly proper, but our sense of actuality typically seems so excessive that it turns into ‘extra-plausible.’ It seems that unusual partitions of falsehood are being erected between the person and what’s actual. The result’s a distortion of how we see issues. In different phrases, a notion distortion. To put it merely, hyperreality may be described because the normalization of delusion. When mass society adheres to a collective delusion we name it regular, or ‘reality,’ and if one individual strays too removed from this consensus considering then we frequently label them as delusional, or unstable. It’s as if we’ve been struck by on-coming automotive headlights and we’re like dazed rabbits in the midst of the street. Higher not sit round too lengthy wagging our fluffy tails!
The hyperreal smoothes and soothes all contradictions. When as soon as we thought we had ‘left’ politics and ‘right’ politics, these distinctions at the moment are nullified. There is not any extra any ‘left’ or ‘right,’ solely agendas that use various means to accumulate the identical energy. Any foundation of fact has slipped into the glossy substitution – the simulation. Let me ask a query: Do we actually assume that the face of politics, for instance, represents any vestige of fact? There is not any extra fact in politics than there’s in somebody sporting a laboratory coat in a tv business making an attempt to influence us to purchase a specific model of detergent. There is persuasion and falsity that parades as a component of fact, but it’s a pure simulation. We now have slipped into an age the place the brand new ‘reality principle’ tells us that nothing is out of attain and that nearly all the things could be purchased for a worth. That’s, the actual is strong and exists because the movement of products, providers, wishes, needs, pleasures, and an virtually immediate availability.
The query now’s how far can the world go earlier than yielding to a everlasting state of hyperreality? Maybe we’re already on this state proper now; in any case, the hyperreal is contagious, like a sequence response. Within the hyperreal world the area of communications is condensed into the simultaneous now; marginal areas on the periphery at the moment are the hidden areas the place secrecy flows in offshore networks. Our networks of mobility and motion are fragmented into people who privilege some and exclude the various. Even the area above our heads is colonized by the satellites that spy on us. We now have road views being watched and analyzed by Google. Our motion, speech, and textual content being spied on, processed, and interpreted by clever algorithms. We’ve injected a ‘smart-virus’ into the Earth in an effort to monitor all exercise.
Our clean digital flows permit – with precision and effectivity – for a lot of features of our nationwide and personal economies to be shifted to the periphery the place the key networks function. Solely the hyperreal economies stay within the highlight. There is now a worldwide offshore world that strikes in unique, principally secretive networks. The phenomenon of offshoring has reworked peripheral and marginal locations into central nodes. Offshored economies had principally operated within the unseen shadows till the scandal of the Panama Papers in 2015. This large leaking of paperwork led to political and movie star scandals the world over, forcing many politicians to resign from their coveted positions. Presidents at the moment are additional pressed to launch their tax returns to show their legitimacy. But with the farce inside the hyperreal, such gamers as US President Donald Trump can evade these processes with blatant deceptions. Offshored secrecy and surveillance are central to the functioning of up to date societies.
Hyperreality can also be about disappearance.
Please sir, are you able to inform me the place I can discover some hyperreality?
Hyperreality shouldn’t be solely about velocity and velocity; it’s also about measurement – issues are condensing into ever smaller areas earlier than disappearing altogether. Our city habitats, info flows, monetary transactions, have all proven elevated density concurrently velocity. Monetary crashes in the present day are extra explosive as a result of they have an effect on so many extra methods on a worldwide degree. They’re dense of their complexity.
On the core of the condensed type what we as soon as knew as the actual begins to vanish. On the extremity of economics, the worth of cash disappears. On the extremity of warfare there isn’t any actual humanity, solely madness and immense sorrow, loss, and ache. On the extremity of sexuality there isn’t any heat solely the pornography of lust and the commodity of want. On the extremity of goodness there’s the greed to do good. And even on the extremity of affection there isn’t a actual love, however obsession and possession. Inside these extremities we lose contact with something that when got here near the actual. We’re within the slipstream of the hyperreal the place the substitute replaces its former host. And the substitute is ‘always-on’ 24/7.
An ‘always-on’ hyperreal world additionally creates the phantasm of mobility. Exactly as a result of we might be related all through the world by the applied sciences in our pocket we’re not required to maneuver. We could be within the workplace whereas talking with colleagues throughout the globe; or chatting with pals on one other continent while remaining seated on our sofas. The contradiction right here is that hypermobility creates its personal sedentary life. This was explored within the sci-fi movie Surrogates (2009) the place individuals buy remote-controlled humanoid robots to conduct their social life and affairs while the actual individual stays at residence wired to their chair. In fact, everybody chooses a reasonably or good-looking humanoid to characterize them (identical to avatars within the on-line world) while their actual our bodies lie fats and underused within the unmoving chair.
We’ve but little cultural expertise to guard us from the invasion of simulation, artificiality, and the hyperreal. It has all occurred too shortly for us and our senses haven’t absolutely adjusted. A few of us are scuffling with aching our bodies, stressed sleep cycles, and drained eyes from all of the screens in our lives. It isn’t movement illness we’re affected by increasingly more however monitor illness. One of many options of hyperreality is that communication happens extraordinarily quickly, and we’re bombarded with info virtually always.
The hyperreal brings to the fore a convincing assortment of disastrous non-events. Every thing that’s occurring one way or the other will get reported, transmitted, and commented upon, creating an explosive babble of micro-impacts that dominate our superficial conversations. Then the subsequent day they’ve disappeared right into a black gap of amnesia and changed by one other twenty-four-hour dose of attention-topics. This hyperreal way of life creates a background noise; a seemingly infinite low static buzz that infests our on a regular basis areas. It’s just like the static we expertise when altering radio channels, or when a digital tv channel isn’t but synchronized.
Many people live in a high-velocity, always-connected, post-historic world. For these people who find themselves not but attuned to this it’s extremely disagreeable. Issues seemingly happen, however we aren’t fairly positive. That is the dilemma. The hyperreal takes the wounded soul and Photoshops it right into a caricature of its former self. It turns into glorified and falsely beautified into the much less actual, however with hyper-appeal. Occasions and points are glossed over, making truths little greater than fast sound-bites that flash earlier than our eyes. Regardless of these absurdities we’re nonetheless dwelling in a world that’s bodily very actual.
The hyperreal in overreaction and overload
We ultra-react as a result of we’re regularly underneath bombardment by a stream of data that retains us in overload. We want to know as a lot as attainable about what’s going on in our surroundings as a result of this was an evolutionary survival technique for our ancestors. But our distant ancestors didn’t have the Web, smartphones, and an entire array of related devices – that they had golf equipment and hatchets. We’ve modified our rhythms, or slightly our new technologically-pervasive surroundings has altered our rhythms, and we’ve not had adequate time biologically, in addition to psychologically, to regulate.
We’re waking as much as a world in a brand new rhythm, with a brand new, quicker velocity and an altered resonance; and admittedly for many of us it makes us really feel as if we’re partially inebriated. The world is making our youngsters reply to its hyperreal power, after which subsequently we go about tranquilizing them. The rise of younger schoolchildren within the trendy world taking drugs for ADHD (consideration deficit hyperactivity dysfunction) is phenomenal. In such a world it turns into a lot more durable to follow and keep sure kinds of consideration, akin to contemplative, reflective, and introspective thought. We’re accessing info, but much less so are we translating this info into wealthy, inside states or reminiscences.
It’s as if we’re afraid to be bored. We might really feel that being bored – or being boring – is a failure; that we have now did not make use of all the knowledge and alternatives at our fingertips. But the mind is regularly working exhausting to course of all info and exterior impacts, and so we have to take time without work to loosen up, recharge, and replenish. We have to retain our attentiveness as an alternative of giving in to the lazy strategy of digitally-offloading our consideration. We can’t navigate our personal path by means of life by GPS. On the similar time, retaining consideration shouldn’t require synthetic, chemical inducers. Nor ought to it require copious quantities of fantasy masquerading as the actual.
Many extremely developed cultures are already basking within the ‘Disneyfication’ impact the place western business pursuits, practices, and values are promoted around the globe as a panacea for all. Disneyfication provides us greater, quicker, and higher leisure that’s the identical the world over – US mass tradition values on the worldwide stage. Disneyfication hides the ‘real’ locations, but paradoxically many individuals appear to choose being within the imaginary. Maybe its actual perform is to make us consider that the remainder of society is imaginary and solely that which resides inside the partitions of Disney is actual. Within the hyperreal the spectacle turns into the lived area of our social lives. Disney is colonizing our lives and that colonization turns into the brand new world map.
The Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges famously wrote of an ideal Empire that created a map that was so detailed it was as giant because the Empire itself. The precise map grew and decayed because the Empire itself conquered or misplaced territory. When the Empire lastly crumbled, all that remained was the map. This ‘imaginary map’ lastly turned the one remaining actuality of the good Empire: a simulation of the as soon as bodily actuality that has now been colonized by its personal spectacle. That is the place the Actual loses its middle and turns into origin-less.
The hyperreal too evades a way of origin, which accounts for the rise in nostalgia, retro-revival, and other people dressing up as superheroes. Star trek conventions, talking Klingon, and getting into an entire new universe meshes with the web worlds and their avatars. Within the realm of the hyperreal the origin is origin-less, and actual place is place-less. We’re given new maps of celebration and movie star that cover a commodity fetishism – but the place is the which means? We crave for which means.
The hyperreal incorporates every part inside itself. There is not any outer or internal inside its realm. The one escape is a type of transcendence – a course of or act of gnosis – that may see by way of the superficiality of the spectacle. That is the present dilemma – our methods are extending however not transcending themselves. Many people are on this state of affairs: we go for extra of the identical, solely just a little bit totally different. The reply lies in turning into past distinction. Life has all the time been a sequence of occasions that we ascribe which means too.
Once we expertise this sequence in an inexpensive sufficient type then we create our meanings. It’s when this sequence of occasions and indicators turns into asymmetrical, non-linear, or accelerated past our limits of standardized notion that we start to lose our capacity to ascribe significance to it. Hyperreality is the zone the place this slippage happens and which means loses its anchorage. The result’s that we really feel we’re being carried away from ourselves. We’re being pulled into the flux and move of this hyperreality and we lose sight of the bottom. Not solely the grounded-ness of place, but in addition our internal floor – that a part of us which makes us really feel human. It’s the soulful a part of us that we’re dropping.
In these hyperreal occasions we have to discover a new stability and association between issues. Our previous preparations are shifting, and people issues as soon as in perceived stability and order are dropping their moorings. We should always keep in mind that the ‘Real’ exists someplace inside us and hold this in thoughts because the world outdoors continues its head-long rush right into a frenetic, whirlwind of chaotic occasions. In the long run, we will solely really depend on our personal good sense and instinct. As Václev Havel said in one among his addresses, ‘Transcendence is the only real alternative to extinction.’
We should attempt to stay secure and as sane as attainable as life accelerates into its personal hyperreality. In any other case we might not discover our personal middle inside the international maelstrom. The journey has solely simply begun.
Concerning the Writer
Kingsley L. Dennis is the writer of The Phoenix Era: A New Period of Connection, Compassion, and Consciousness, and The Sacred Revival: Magic, Thoughts & Which means in a Technological Age, out there at Amazon. Go to him on the internet at http://www.kingsleydennis.com/.
References: Yates, Francis. The Rosicrucian Enlightenment. London: Routledge, 2001.  Quoted in Noble, David F. The Faith of Know-how: The Divinity of Man and the Spirit of Invention. London: Penguin, 1999, 134.  Davis, Erik. Techgnosis: Fantasy, Magic and Mysticism within the Age of Info. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1998, 9.