Reality, at first glance, is a simple thing: the television speaking to you now is real. Your body sunk into that chair in the approach to midnight, a clock ticking at the threshold of awareness. All the endless detail of a solid and material world surrounding you. These things exist. They can be measured with a yardstick, a voltammeter, a weighing scale. These things are real. Then there’s the mind, half-focused on the TV, the settee, the clock. This ghostly knot of memory, idea and feeling that we call ourself also exists, though not within the measurable world our science may describe.
Consciousness is unquantifiable, a ghost in the machine, barely considered real at all, though in a sense this flickering mosaic of awareness is the only true reality that we can ever know. The Here-and-Now demands attention, is more present to us. We dismiss the inner world of our ideas as less important, although most of our immediate physical reality originated only in the mind. The TV, sofa, clock and room, the whole civilisation that contains them once were nothing save ideas.
Material existence is entirely founded on a phantom realm of mind, whose nature and geography are unexplored. Before the Age of Reason was announced, humanity had polished strategies for interacting with the world of the imaginary and invisible: complicated magic-systems; sprawling pantheons of gods and spirits, images and names with which we labelled powerful inner forces so that we might better understand them. Intellect, Emotion and Unconscious Thought were made divinities or demons so that we, like Faust, might better know them; deal with them; become them.
Ancient cultures did not worship idols. Their god-statues represented ideal states which, when meditated constantly upon, one might aspire to. Science proves there never was a mermaid, blue-skinned Krishna or a virgin birth in physical reality. Yet thought is real, and the domain of thought is the one place where gods inarguably ezdst, wielding tremendous power. If Aphrodite were a myth and Love only a concept, then would that negate the crimes and kindnesses and songs done in Love’s name? If Christ were only ever fiction, a divine Idea, would this invalidate the social change inspired by that idea, make holy wars less terrible, or human betterment less real, less sacred?
The world of ideas is in certain senses deeper, truer than reality; this solid television less significant than the Idea of television. Ideas, unlike solid structures, do not perish. They remain immortal, immaterial and everywhere, like all Divine things. Ideas are a golden, savage landscape that we wander unaware, without a map.
Be careful: in the last analysis, reality may be exactly what we think it is.
Besides, as often as not, we act as though it is. And that's what generates, among other things, consequences.
Tis Dante I prefer. In his Inferno he suggests the one true path from Hell lies at its very heart...and that in order to escape, we must instead go further in.
He thought: This makes about as much sense as believing that there is a Hell.
Oh, they said God was dead, all those beatniks and snooty-ass Frenchmen. Not me. I knew better. I said to them, "Wait, boys! Don't break cover yet awhile. He might be faking. I mean, they thought Saddam was dead. And the novel. And Glenn Close in that last scene of Fatal Attraction." That's what I said. But did they listen? Ohh no. They went right ahead and organized God's funeral. Well, don't count your chickens before they come home to roost...
You know, if He did once in fact actually exist.
Murder, other than in the most strict forensic sense, is never soluble. That dark human clot can never melt into a lucid, clear suspension. Our detective fiction tells us otherwise: everything is just meat and cold ballistics. Provide a murderer, a motive and a means, and you have solved the crime. Using this method, the solution to the Second World War is as follows: Hitler. The German economy. Tanks. Thus, for convenience, we reduce the complex events.
In other words, let's go deeper than how or who or where or when; let's figure out [once and for all] why.
To my mind, this embracing of what were unambiguously children's characters at their mid-20th century inception seems to indicate a retreat from the admittedly overwhelming complexities of modern existence. It looks to me very much like a significant section of the public, having given up on attempting to understand the reality they are actually living in, have instead reasoned that they might at least be able to comprehend the sprawling, meaningless, but at-least-still-finite 'universes' presented by DC or Marvel Comics. I would also observe that it is, potentially, culturally catastrophic to have the ephemera of a previous century squatting possessively on the cultural stage and refusing to allow this surely unprecedented era to develop a culture of its own, relevant and sufficient to its times.
In other words [perhaps] fuck them and the superheroes they rode in on.
Without my face, nobody knows. Nobody knows who I am.
But: don't stop with them.
If you know what I mean.