9.16.2004

Welcome to the Desert of the Real

*WARNING: This was a nerdy exercise,it's probably not a fun read.*

While considering ways to blog about a date/outing I had with people that I met through my blog, it struck me how very postmodern this whole business was. I was blogging about a date I had with someone I met through someone who read my blog about dating and I knew that some of those people (at least one for sure) would now read about that date and themselves on my blog, which would likely affect the way I wrote about it.

If you haven't had the misfortune to study Postmodernism, here's a quick and dirty primer (ok, not so quick):
It's by nature indefinable and affects every aspect of academia and culture. It's one of those, 'you know it when you see it' things [Duchamp, Warhol, John Cage, Schoenberg, Punk Rock, Anti-foundationalism and Deconstructionism, Le Pompideu Centre(the building), amusement parks, video games, Bladerunner...,]. "The Matrix" was a Hollywood description of our postmodern fears. The writers of the script were well versed in pomo literature. (Check out the title of the book where Neo hides his contra-band diskettes.)

Some pomo fears relevant to this discussion follow. Simulacra (i.e. videos, VR, internet, etc.) are taking the place of real things. We're now the gods of an electronic universe (cyberspace) filled with simulations of the real universe. We've transcended the world of real objects and now conduct much of our business online, where nothing is real. Or is it? The term 'navel-gazing' is a good word for PoMo phenoms. Pop culture becomes increasingly more self-referential, (TV shows that refer to themselves as TV shows, like the Simpsons often do.) 'Reality TV shows' are the ultimate in PoMo, distorting both reality and TV. We are in danger of losing the distinction between the real and the unreal, so much so that sometimes we can't tell what is real anymore (i.e. The War of the Worlds scare).

Our simulations of reality have become so powerful that reality is now simulating the simulacra (i.e. real life Pac Man played in Manhattan, online relationships moving into real life, people imitating their TV-movie heroes) and even worse, simulacra are now simulating other simulacra, like movies about video games and vice versa. We've entered a rabbit-hole where the simulations of reality have now really distorted reality, and begun an infinite regress of distortion and simulation. Like two mirrors facing each other, Simulacra mirrors Reality which then mirrors simulacra mirroring reality mirroring simulacra mirroring reality mirroring simulacra.....

Enter my blogosphere generated real life date.

The postmodern nature of this date is a total head-trip. Check this out. I began publishing my memories of real life dating experiences online. My mental impressions of real events have been simulated digitally in blog form. Other people read the simulacra of my memories and then form their own mental copies of the simulation of my memory of my real life experience.

That was just a PoMo description of blogging, here comes the complicated part.

Because of my internet blogging activities I 'meet' other people online. We have no real life interaction, just email and blogging comments. Then, one reader of my blog-about-dates invites me on a real date with one of his real friends. So I go out and meet in real life this stranger that I first met in cyberspace. (My simulacra world has now spilled into my real world). We have a real nice time. Then I go home to blog about the date, so I can create a simulacrum of this real event. However, I know that the people who experienced that same real event will read the simulacrum of it. This knowledge affects the way I report the event online.

My current actions of blogging my memories are now changed by the fact that the people who shared an event with me in the past will read my representation of it in the future and have their memories of the event changed by incorporating with it their impressions of the simulacrum of my memory of the same event. (Are you lost yet?)

This fact matters to me because these people are now part of my real life. And things in my future could be affected for better or worse by how I blog this now (the simulacra of my past could change my real future.) For example, if my post offends everyone or anyone who was there then that might hurt my chances of getting another date in the future. (Not that I have anything offensive to say, this is hypothetical.) So the way I choose to electronically represent the past date could impact my real dating future.

To recap: I simulate online my past dating experiences with my blog and that caused me to have a real life date which caused me to simulate that date online which could cause changes in my real dating future; this knowledge causes changes in my blogging of the event which causes further distortions in the simulacrum of that event. So I've created a twice distorted simulation of a real event in order to manipulate my real future.

Welcome to the Desert of the Real.

Come back for more TRUE stories of the strange, sad and pathetic exploits of me not having sex in the city.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think you probably lost a lot of people on that...but I enjoyed it and I actually feel like maybe I learned something. More fun than reading about what exactly a corporation is, or the five major elements of a legal contract.
-Jill

JL said...

Yes, I know that won't be a popular post. I got a headache writing it. But I was curious to see where it would go, so I wrote it for myself. It's trippy stuff.

Anonymous said...

Your thinking too much. Just enjoy the ride.

Kim Siever said...

Wow. Look at the colours.

I am hungry.

JL said...

LOL!

Anonymous said...

Man, all I heard was blah blah blah blah blah. And Aristotle just said a bunch of words. It's so stupid.

Jack G

irishman said...

well i never thought i'd say i'd be thankful for having sat through lectures on postmodernism in college, but hey some day everything proves to have a use.

reading that post was still a complete headf*%$ though!

dont worry about it too much - if you sit around worrying about the post modern effects of all your reactions you'd never do anything.

life wasn't meant to be analysed - it was meant to be lived!

by the way whatever font you are using makes "pomo" look like "porno" at first glance... very strange!

JL said...

I'm not worried about it! Really. I just think it's interesting the way my weblife has moved into my real life and then back again and back again. I'm a thinker, that's why I've been in college for 10 consecutive years. And I'm also living, that's why I have stuff to write about. I've already written the next post, it's back to the usual stuff. I'll put it up tomorrow (Saturday).

Mike said...

"life wasn't meant to be analysed"
and this to the philosophy prof.

hmm, does writing about the fact that your simulation changes further change it and it also further change the interpretation?
I think more importantly do the people involved in said date enjoy Baudrillard or Phillip Dick? (or even the matrix I suppose)

JL said...

Yes.

I can't speak for the others but I like Philip K. Dick. I liked the first Matrix but the other two were poor disappointments. {The effects were fun and so was looking at Keanu in all that black Armani gear. But the dialogue was horrendous.

dJake said...

I'm seriously dumbfounded. The questions surrounding the orignal Matrix (not the sequels which ruined the premise for the whole concept) float in my head once again. What is real? Obviously we aren't plugged into the Matrix, but still... a vast majority of this world plugs into a primitive version of it. Which leads me to ask... where are the agents and how do I avoid them.

Anonymous said...

Then my work here is done.

You know, there are a lot of Smiths running around Utah.

Caiti said...

JL,

Personally this is one of my favorite posts of yours.

If I had time (or talent) I'd write a short story about "Real Blind Date Guy" running into "Blog Blind Date Guy." What would they say to each other if they met at a ward activity?

JL said...

Caiti,
That's a good question. What I want to know is can blog blind date guy leave the blogosphere to go to a real ward function? hmmmmm. It'd make for a good twilight zone episode.

I'm glad you and seemingly many other readers enjoyed this post. I had last Thursday off for the holiday and spent the entire day working on it. It was infinitely more engaging than writing a lecture on Kant's ethics or finishing that boring paper on 'truth' that was due in 2003. It's good to know my procrastination was time well spent. :-)

Anonymous said...

Fascinating analysis, but incomplete. You consider your blog reality entering your real reality. However, what if your real reality entered your blog reality (e.g. one of the men you write about discovers celibateinthecity)? Or unbeknownst to you, one of them has his own blog about you in a parrallel reality? Which simulacra is simulated then?

Caiti said...

Can Real Blind Date Guy meet Blog Blind Date Guy at a ward activity? Of course! Anything is possible in the PoMo world.

JL said...

This is the much pared down draft of this post. Originally I tried to see how complex I could make it. That's when I got the head-ache. Then I spent some time simplifying. But I am concerned about my real life entering my blog life. The fact that I considered what the people reading about themselves might think of my blog shows that my real life is infecting and distorting the simulacra of my life.

Everytime I post something about someone I feel a wave of terror at the thought that that person could discover this blog. I'm a horror-buff and thrill seeker so I enjoy the risk. :-)

By now Real blind date guy has probably read this because Kaimi at T&S posted it all over their front page. [Blog Kaimi should watch his back from now on since Blog JL wants to 'talk' to him about this! But Real JL likes getting more traffic so she's very happy with the publicity.]

Sarah said...

I got it. I worry about that stuff occasionally when blogging about stuff that's actually happened -- e.g. my job search, working at Disneyland, lining up for Star Wars -- because I know that there are people out there whose actions will be affected by what I've written.

Anyway, I thought it was a fun read.

Anonymous said...

I have to say I've been reading your blog for months and enjoying it all - this one took my enjoyment to a new level - ok my head hurts but it's a hurts so good kinda hurt - nice piece!

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