Our Own Worst Faux?
Did it start with Gutenberg? Before him, all things were hand written. Or perhaps, Jacquard, prior to his invention, all things were handmade. Maybe it was Gregor Mendel, his knowledge removed nature from natural selection. But even these plateaus were places inhabited by humans with a sense of authenticity.
Artists have long portayed the unreal, the surreal and the impossible, but they did so as much to illustrate just how real our world is as to provide escape from it. A just where did the notion that fake, faux, imitation, false, and phony was not only acceptable, but preferable?
One word - bakelite. It was the first 'plastic' and the stuff that the first assembly line used to produce telephones used to make the ear and mouthpieces. That's when humans, especially those in the 'Modern World' got accustomed to holding, touching, carressing, juggling, needing and depending on something not real at all. That was when our plastic world began.
From there, the next great leap into the faux was nylon. Then rayon and then all hell broke loose. Teflon, silicone, plexiglass and all things instant, machine made, petro this and genetically engineered that.
Women's anatomies have become suspect. Full lips may simply be full of silicone, not to mention tits. Hair and moles can disappear and makeup can be permanent. You can't even be sure of the real color of someone's eyes anymore. That slim and svelte woman may simply have an insurance that covers any number of surgical procedures not available to her overweight companion. Even the term 'plastic surgery' belies our fixation on the fake. And men are almost as guilty of these deceptions.
Look around you right now. Look carefully. I'll bet that you cannot see real thing. Not a single item in your field of view is completely natural. That's what I'm talking about. It's so commonplace, this relationship we have with fakery, imitaion and deception.
Therein is the root of many of our current socio/politico problems. We've become so removed from the concept of genuine, that we don't even ask the question - 'IS IT REAL'? And THAT is the first question that should be asked about anything today.
Take politicians. Is there a more conspicuously artificial human construct? Why are we inclined to believe anything that issues from their mouthes. Would we take what a soda pop machine said in its computer generated robo-voice as Gospel? How is a politician, or a preacher for that matter, any better?
It is our reliance on things fake and phony that has lulled us into accepting ALL things fake and phony. Global warming, comprehensive immigration reform, competitive labor force, progressive taxation, limited warfare, moral relativism, intelligent design, political will, bipartisan cooperation, universal participation, national reform and the very idea of an honest lawyer are all concepts which cannot and do not exist in reality. Much like antimatter in Altoona or the square root of a neagative number, they all look good on paper but they don't really exist in YOUR world.
All of this dependency on things not real used to be something of a novelty. It has become one of the biggest potential problems we face today.
For instance, whereas all things real, either grow or just exist, fake stuff has to be 'produced'. And for some strange reason, fake stuff now costs much more to produce than real things. When did that happen? About the time your Mother brought home those first TV dinners. Since the mid fifties, we have been spending exponentially more every year in terms of energy, labor, time, and expense to make fake crap. If you could just be satisfied with some nice throw rugs and few large decorative rugs over a floor of colored and polished concrete, the world would be a much better place? 'WHAT'? You say. Sure, concrete is close to being natural, very cheap, easy to work with, lasts forever AND holds heat and cold better than the floors you have now. Wall to wall carpeting uses huge amounts of the same stuff you depend on to drive to work - oil - to produce. It is the bane of municipal landfills because it NEVER biodgrades and takes up too much space. Your house would cost less to build, less to heat and cool, less to maintain and last longer. But you've become accustomed to the fake stuff. See?
And speaking of houses. THIS is where I wanted to get to when I started writing this piece in the first place. The coming housing crash. There WILL be one, make no mistake, and it will be devastating, perhaps catastrophic. The 'crisis/bubble' isn't so much about lending practices or economic policy as it is about people who became lulled into a sense of the unreal. They got used to the fake and false around them. It was not realistic of them to think that they could afford a mansion on a clerk's salary. But they bought into it and now the piper will be paid. It could alter the very demographic profile of this nation. All of the areas which will be hardest hit just happen to be the 'blue states'. Those people will be forced to move into the 'red states' and might even actually have to rub elbows with real Americans. R.E.A.L. Americans.