Notes: Assignment 5 Research

Here are some very disparate notes to record the ideas in my head relating to the final essay we must write for UVC

What is reality?


Explore the REAL in contemporary society….

  1. Genesis – “In the beginning God created Heaven and Earth….”

(lots of stuff in-between) … to Enlightenment…. and then to

….Nietzsche  – “God is Dead”

2. Language is a constructed filing system for identifying ideas and transforming thoughts into actions. (i.e. Please feed the baby while I am away but not the red berries, they make him sick…) Syntax enabled people to communicate highly complex and very specific ideas, leading to technology and science. Classification and mental filing systems – we believed placed us at at top of apex of chain of being, another filing system. (See current exhibit at Welcome Trust which explores the fallibility of classification systems) Our ability to invent incredibly precise language has also led to scientific thought and understanding that reveals the mental filing system we’ve been using is actually not as ‘accurate’ as we once thought it was. Gender is fluid, animals use tools, there are lots of shades between black and white and both of those are not really colours at all but like shades on spectrum vary and change according to light. The filing system, the categories and classifications, we have to admit are nebulous and forever shifting. Things are no longer fixed as they once were.

The Kinks, Lola: “She walked like a woman, talked like a man, it’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world……”

3. Dada – meaning dissolving, language makes meaning, language becomes meaningless.(clip from Cabaret Voltaire?) Now is not the first time categories have been challenged. Institut für Sexualwissenschaft was brutally destroyed by the Nazi’s (subplot in Amazon’s Transparent)

4. Today and the most fundamnetal of western mental ‘filing’ system, that of linear narrative, is being questioned. If there was no beginning, there can be no end….no truth, no reality

Although some disagree  – interesting argument against Post Modern annihilation of ‘meaning’  (see the whole idea of truth and therefore definitive objective facts about our lives has been eroded.

Post truth politics (fashionable term right now) means we don’t trust our ‘reality’ one little bit.

a) Examples of current cultural texts that explore the disintegration of linear narrative  – Philippe Parreno, Turbine Hall, ANYWHEN “nonlinear narrative”

b) ARRIVAL  – Protagonist learns new language which enables her to perceive time in a non-linear way. There is no past, future or present.

Style – Many similarities in the styling, sounds, disorientation, technology, BUT MAIN SIMILARITY IS THE DECONSTRUCTION OF WESTERN NARRATIVES WITH BEGINNING, MIDDLE, END. But meaning is found another way…

The above explore meaning outside of western linear narrative. But nevertheless for now our language is in danger of failing to give us meaning. Our language cannot be trusted to give us firm narratives with beginnings, middles and ends. Without meaning, we can no longer rely on a sense of reality as we have understood it for so long. We are currently adrift and the unraveling has been going on at least since …Nietzsche and explored by Dada and Surrealists.

We’re in a state of extreme flux.

5. Old western reality: Triangle of God, Father, Holy Spirit,

which may have been replaced in time by Lacanian triangle,

New reality: Imaginary, Symbolic and Real

But our Symbolic cannot be relied on and our Imaginary is playing havoc with our relationship with the Real

(Once there is no structure and langauge has dissolved entirely, we are left with meaningless narrative. Or fake news. Or pathological liars. (See Craig Malkin’s Spectrum of Narcissism 1 – 10 Linear although it goes back and forth. In fact it and every other diagrammatic symbol could be circular.) Pathological liars destabilise Others’ realities. Others lose site of their own realties. Without reality there is a sense of being stranded high and dry, lost, anxious, disorientated.) – Probably irrelevant in 2000 word essay 

Language shapes reality. Language contains meaning. Meaning in language has dissolved and become nebulous. Dissolution of meaning leaves us without a reality we can hold on to. We cannot grab hold of reality. We are lost in non-reality. The Real is there but we don’t, can’t see it. As described by Debord. Brecht tries to show it with alienating affects – a form of deconstruction. Adam Curtis blames individualism. In Arrival and also Anywhen at the Turbine Hall, both cultural texts are concerned with allowing us to see a new way of experiencing narrative. “In the beginning God made the Heavens and …..”  – perhaps no longer applicable, certainly no longer believable…

Looking for something to anchor this discussion with in a similar way to how Death of An Author underlined A4.

Finally, Will Self’s article is interesting here too…Do we no longer need stories? 

Since posting this I have written another post where I added and built the themes I’ve looked at here.





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