Goodnight, sweetheart – lies of reality and images

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Could that illusion have only been a single year ago? Baudrillard has argued that ‘reality barely has time to exist, if it does at all, before it has begun disappearing’. It’s a bit like the last (spoiler) part of the HBO modern classic, Six Feet Under, in which Nate appears posthumously to tell younger sister Claire that she cannot capture the moment with a photograph – it’s already gone. (And this is pretty much its own snapshot of how I feel about photography. An image can be a trigger for a memory, ‘moments, nostalgia but incapable of capturing reality in its ephemeral and disappearing(ed) state’. Actually Baudrillard deals with this, too (in The Intelligence of Evil: or, The Lucidity Pact):

“Can photography exempt itself from this flood of images and restore an original power to them? To do so, the turbulent operation of the world would have to be suspended; the object would have to be caught in that single fantastic moment of first contact when things had not yet noticed we were there, when absence and emptiness had not yet dissipated . . . It would, in fact, have to be the world itself that performed the photographic act, as though the world were affording itself the means to appear, quite apart from us.”

And

“At any rate, the lens simultaneously captures the way we are there and the way we are no longer there. This is why, before the eye of the camera, we act dead in our innermost being, as God does before the proofs of his existence. Everything in us crystallizes negatively before the material imagining of our presence.” (italics – mine – as usual)

Go figure. The way this is described almost breaks my heart. Weakling.)

What does photography reveal in this possibly-real reality, though? Do we get anything from it? Especially in a now-visually-desensitized age, where a microsecond glance-and-swipe constitutes a dating decision?

“The worst thing for us is precisely the impossibility of a world without image feed – a world that would not endlessly be laid hold of, captured, filmed and photographed before it has even been seen. A lethal danger for the ‘real’ world, but also for the image, since where it merely recycles the real and immerses itself in the real there is no longer any image – not, at least, as exception, illusion or parallel universe. In the visual flow submerging us, there is no longer even time for the image to become image.” (italicized emphasis mine, emphatically mine)

It is a peculiar feeling, to be in one’s own life, or to see images of that life, and feel as though, in either case, upon reflection, you were not really there. Just outside watching it unfold, as though a secondary observer, but through a looking glass.

“This is the miracle: that a fragment of the world, human consciousness, arrogates to itself the privilege of being its mirror. But this will never produce an objective truth, since the mirror is part of the object it reflects.”

The reality is real and can be reflected but isn’t anything that can tasted, touched, felt ever again. Was it truly felt the first time… in that momentary, illusory glimpse of reality that possibly existed?

Image (c) 2018 S Donaghy (an image as good as any to convey the randomness of the simultaneously ephemeral and interminable moments of life…)

Being energy

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I have never been one much for metaphysical investigation, nor overly ponderous or scholarly about formal philosophy studies, but I am inching toward these areas, alongside deeper inquiry into physical and chemical sciences and physics, because suddenly these concepts, about which I know so little, have triggered something in my brain that is larger than idle curiosity.

As I wrote the other day, a book on “psychic phenomena”, which I had decided to read only because it sat untouched on my bookshelf for the last decade (how and why these kinds of books even came into my possession is something I’ve forgotten; I want to say that I received them from an ex, with whom I shared long-running jokes about my supposed psychic abilities), sparked a real interest in thoughts being things, about the extension of the “bodily, physical reality in the here and now”.

The psychic book, Awakening Your Psychic Powers, started with the argument that all things are interconnected – indicating that findings in quantum and subatomic physics (the part that most excited me) or thinking on the universal nature of spirituality (if one were to study all world religions and belief systems) as reflected in the philosophia perennis. This interconnectedness leads to a fundament of focusing and channeling psychic ability: Oneness, and accepting Oneness. It sounds New Agey and mystical, but if we were to cease seeing things as discrete, separate entities and instead accept everything as part of an interconnected ecosystem, as modern western physics does at the subatomic level, the physical boundaries we’ve concocted would fall. Spiritually, it argues, there are no boundaries in the first place.

“It is much easier for a consciousness rooted in a spiritual identity that exists beyond the constraints of time and space to accept the functioning of psychic ability as a natural talent. Not only does such a shift in identity make psychic functioning more natural, but it provides us with other needed benefits as well.”

In Einstein’s theory of relativity, “thingness” disappears as mass is equated with energy. “Things” become waves of energy/patterns. “Not only is everything on earth interconnected, everything is really the same thing – energy moving about and taking different forms. And that is one way to begin to imagine what is meant by the Oneness that lies behind visible creation.”

If we are to accept this, then something like psychic phenomena seems less implausible and more about a way of tuning in, perceiving and seeing.