What is real?

Assuming that the world doesn’t end December 21st, I plan on returning to Trinity next semester and continuing on the premed track.  Luckily, going to Trinity means that its necessary to mix some liberal arts classes in with science courses. Next semester I will take a Chinese cinema class and a history class covering the late antiquity period along with biochemistry and evolution courses. I personally hope the world doesn’t end this, not only because I would have been twenty for less then two weeks, but also because I’m looking forward to the rest of my college experiences.

The aesthetic properties of media have been covered since the beginning of the semester, which is I why I relied a lot on Bernard Dick’s article Film, Space, and Image.  Before taking this class I never noticed camera angles or the distance of a shot in a movie. Now, however, I take notice when there is an extreme long shot or a close-up in a movie. The type of shot can help the director emphasize not only the tone of the movie, but also a certain emotion. For instance, a close up of an actor’s face emphasizes the emotion they are displaying; a close-up of an object emphasizes the object’s importance. Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, emphasizes a theory of Marshall McLuhan’s which states that our awareness of ourselves tends to flow outwards towards inanimate objects. I thought this was an interesting theory because it explains why we often see our cars and utensils as extensions of ourselves.

Image

Disneyland, part of a plot to convince us that everything else is real.

Throughout the semester, one of my favorite authors to read was Klosterman. I enjoyed his writing style, and I found his arguments thought provoking and easy to follow. In the article The Awe Inspiring Beauty of Tom Cruise’s Shattered Troll like Face, Klosterman poses the idea that living in a fake world is no different then living in the “real” world. While I found this notion to be disheartening, it brought up an interesting question. What is reality? If your life is a “cryogenic dream-world” is it any less real than the physical world? I found Baudrillard’s readings the hardest to understand, and therefore I liked them the least. However, his idea that Disneyland is only portrayed as imaginary in order to make us believe “that the rest is real” was a very interesting concept. Baudrillard was trying to make the point that the world, and especially the United States, is not “real” but is a simulation of what is real. In Disneyland most of the attractions are simulations of something that is real. In what we consider to be the “real world” there are simulations around every corner. For instance, the La Madeleine down the street is a simulation of an actual French café. So what we consider to be the real world is actually as “simulated” as Disneyland.

If I received a strange package with random pictures of myself inside, I would first conclude that I have stalker. Secondly, after taking COMM 2302 and carefully analyzing the pictures, I would think that the pictures symbolize the fact that what I consider to be “my life” and “my reality” may in fact be a “fictional story” to someone else. When we read stories in the newspaper about “real” people, are the stories and the people in them anymore real than fictional characters in books we read?  We will probably never meet these people, just as we will never meet the characters in the books we read. What makes one more real than the other?  Other people are interpreting my pictures and “my life” in their own way. Just as Animal Man’s life was only a story to comic book readers, and Truman’s life was only a story to TV viewers, my life is only a story to other people. My life is real to me, but to everyone else, my life is just a story. What will I do next? I suppose what I have been doing for the past nineteen years, live my life.

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