For example, do I exist, or am I just telling you that I do?

Some years ago while I was still working as a comedian I was watching another comic and kind of studying the audience, and I had a little epiphany. Lower case “e.” This wasn’t a finding Jesus, realizing I was gay, kicking heroin type epiphany. I’m not even sure it counts, in fact, because I don’t still subscribe to the idea.

What I began thinking about was the idea of creating our reality through perception, and how the only definitions we have are the ones we create, and choose to believe. If we choose to believe something, it is true. It was sort of Arjuna & Krishna thing.

The warrior Arjuna is in the midst of a terrible civil war. His advisor/concigliere/buddy is the god Krishna (thus showing that leader have always said that “God is on my side” just some have meant it more literally than others). Arjuna is feeling uneasy about slaughtering his cousins and neighbors, but Krishna reassures him that all of this is just a veil of illusion, and has no bearing on what’s really, really real. It was all very Matrix.

So my feeling, that night, was that since all experience is unique, and it is impossible to communicate with others without some level of façade, or illusion, then honesty, was in effect, impossible. Thus, if everything is a lie, then nothing is a lie. The only truth is that which we create for ourselves. So if you make up things about yourself, who cares? What you have made up as an idea of yourself is as close to the unvarnished truth as anything you’re likely to way when trying to be honest, while have the luster of at least reflecting who you would liketo be.

Now, I no longer believe this, but I am still fascinated with the concept, particularly in relation to celebrity and pop culture – both entertainment and political. Especially in the way that a moment of unvarnished honesty can become so jarring and confusing. We don’t want that – we want the polished, publicist-approved text. Tom Cruise? When he lectured the Good Morning America guy? Picked on Brooke Shields? Jumped around on Oprah? He stops the perfect control machine, acts like a human being in public and people think he’s gone crazy. Yet these sorts of things go on all the time, it’s just that usually it’s fixed through editing, reshoots, rewriting the answers to the interview questions. And we like it that way, because we want the illusion.

There’s a current interview with Tom Cruise in which he’s asked about his recent behavior, and the interview has so clearly been worked through and sanitized – preplanned answers, set talking points in order to explain away everything. Make it vanish. Yet it restores the illusion we so much want. When Oprah rips a guest a new one, or gets them to say something stupid, we want that illusion to be the reality, rather than the idea that those interviews are manipulated through editing so that she always comes out the people’s hero.

And celebrity culture, I suppose, is supposed to be this way, but the trickle down is kind of frightening. Celebrity illusion is now becoming the normative M.O. MySpace profiles, fictional degrees from prestigious universities, etc.

I don’t know…no point. Just interesting.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was actually The Today Show guy -- Matt Lauer.

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