So I ask you — what’s real? What’s really real in a world of digital makeovers, photo-shopping, and more illusions than a hundred Merlin’s could have imaged? One classic answer is: Perception is reality. But whence perception? Isn’t much of what we perceive a matter of someone and something manipulating our perceptions? The Robert DeNiro film ‘Wag the Dog’ helped make that point as Hollywood ‘created’ a war and then sold it to the American public. Oh wait — that wasn’t just a movie, was it!
Here’s the message.
Lately the general population has been lulled into confusing the difference between actual reality and concocted reality. Who are the concocters…? Well, a great many people can lay [or deny] claim to that dubious title. Depending on how you perceive it, some of the leading candidates are: the shamans, circus barkers, gypsies, mystics and prophets of the past; and now today’s Hollywood studios, television networks, ad agencies, political consultants, cable news channels, social media and the latest, smarmiest candidate for hustler-of-the-year: The reality-show producers of such epic orgies as ‘The Housewives Of,’ ‘Dancing With The Stars,’ ‘Bridezella,’ ‘Bachlorette,’ ‘Shark Tank,’ and the new Fox prospect I hear will go the name ‘How To Kill My Husband Without Messing The Sheets.’
OK, I made up that last one, but it sure sounded legit, didn’t it…?
So here’s my ‘solution.’ Why don’t we salvage these tortured misshaped versions of reality by focusing our time, talent and treasure on our eloquent versions of reality otherwise proudly known as art. You know, the arts of music, literature, theater, architecture, poetry and dance. Each of these represents someone re-shaping reality in sight or sound or touch for the better enhancement of humanity. Once a year we honor five of our greatest living artists at the Kennedy Arts Center in Washington where tens of millions of viewers applaud the greatness of such ‘illusionists’ as Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, Dustin Hoffman, Barbara Cook, Neil Diamond, Yo Yo Ma, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney and Elia Kazan.
These ‘illusionists’ are the kind we must not only honor but cherish. They — far more than even our bridge builders and university deans — make being human a joy. As for the other breed of ‘illusionists’ in our midst — well, my thought is perhaps we could put them all on a reality-show in space to air out there forever and ever and ever…..
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