Thursday, January 10, 2019
How To Stop Being A Fake
The first step, naturally, is surrender to the simulation, the phoniness, the ever-present influence of the culture upon us.
It cannot be entirely avoided.
Some degree of surrender is required.
How are you faking it?
As a start, reflect just on the nature of your work.
Even before considering work, think of the educational preparation for it. If oriented towards manual labor, then perhaps you studied wood, metal, or auto shop in high school. The instructors taught you standard methodology for working with these materials. You learned to operate lathes, to use machines to bend metal, to tear down and rebuild an engine.
If oriented towards the professions, you probably attended college, institutions intended to inculcate students into categories of knowledge established by the victors of history.
If you leaned towards the logical, the cognitive, then professors immersed you in the depths of the basic sciences, from chemistry to physics. They included the essentials of mathematics, from trigonometry to calculus.
If more humanistic in nature, you were likely nudged towards classes which taught you the essentials of your particular field, from philosophy to literature, from history to political science.
In summary thus far, your preparation for work life involved few of your own choices. The curriculum was set. Long before kindergarten, you were readied for listening to instructions and following the rules.
Questioning of authority was unthinkable, verboten.
When your training was completed—and, yes, this would be an ideal time to think about obedience training for dogs—you entered the workforce.
Those preferring to work with their hands, or who were at least conditioned to believe they did, obtained work manufacturing wood or metal products, or repairing automobiles or airplanes.
Mostly, you worked the standard work week, 9am to 5pm. You then commuted home, mostly by automobile, turned on the television, watched a news program followed by a sitcom, and usually drank beer or wine to dull the boredom of living the prefabricated, simulated life.
If you had extra money or, better yet, a line of credit, you might also soothe the boredom through through enacting the consumption, namely buying mostly unnecessary items, expected to follow your production, namely working.
Still working the standard work week, and often commuting long distances in automobiles, those of you entering the professions received training in various procedures and methods which also long pre-dated your entry into your specific fields.
Accountants learned ways of managing ledgers; lawyers received instruction in writing briefs, filing motions, and making arguments; physicians were taught the basics of diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment. Customers, clients, and patients consulted them with their categorical problems, and they systematically applied methods for dealing with them.
In his book, Simulacra and Simulation, Jean Baudrillad painfully explores the way we live our lives in this fashion, as copies of copies. He writes:
Children are simultaneously required to constitute themselves as autonomous subjects, responsible, free, and conscious, and to constitute themselves as submissive, inert, obedient, conforming objects.
We value our capacities for freedom, consciousness, even rebellion. And yet, the culture guides us, and we willfully comply, with the the death-dance of production and consumption, of simulation, simulation, and even more simulation.
Baudrillad begins his chapter on advertising as follows:
Today what we are experiencing is the absorption of all virtual modes of expression into that of advertising.
What does he mean?
That the difference between living a meaningful life, and advertising for companies, has become blurred.
Branding is now ubiquitous.
You wear the blue shirt or the white shirt displaying your social status.
Most consumer items clearly and obviously display their brands, shamelessly advertising themselves even after you’ve bought them.
These products are not yours.
They remain theirs.
They use you to advertise for them.
Why, these firms should be paying you, not vice versa.
What an ingenious, world-class scam!
(It’s almost like you never really buy anything. You only rent items, and the companies which produced them use you to advertise them to others).
Consider these few examples:
Ecco shoes, Levi jeans, Ralph Lauren polo shirts, BMW automobiles, Lennar homes, Rolex watches, Apple phones, Starbucks coffee, Random House books, Viking stoves, and on and on. The simulations and copies replicate like rabbits. The examples are, literally, endless.
NASA recently announced that—no lie here—future space craft will likely display bright banner advertisements representing firms sponsoring particular launches!
We can look forward to:
Nike’s lift-off of a television satellite, or;
Amazon emblazoned on the hulk of the first stage of a rocket to Mars, or;
Facebook sending streaming social media capacities to the astronauts aboard the international space station, lest they have any time free of entertainment.
How to escape from simulation imprisonment?
Many ways exist, and here are two well-established ones:
The various methods of meditation, from yoga to zazen (sitting meditation), provide the necessary acceleration to escape the gravitational pull of simulation.
If you stick with it, you’ll see signs of you beneath the copy of the copy. You just might feel a surprising emotion, find renewed love for a friend, or discover your own unique thought on a topic.
Another well-worn vehicle is creativity, whether active or passive. Creating art through writing, painting, sculpture, photography, film or any other medium; observing art, through looking at books, going to museums, or visiting galleries, also offers liberation from simulation.
Art is the antithesis of simulation.
It is an effort to create something new and real, not a copy.
More globally, consider turning your attention away from doing and more towards being.
You just might find something new, original, personal, unique.
Baudrillad, J. (1994). Simulacra and Simulation. Trans. S. F. Glaser. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
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Alan Karbelnig, PhD, ABPP