Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Realism, post-produced

"Everywhere tiny hands of terrorists Begin the beguine. In the year 2013 it has been estimated that world population will be doubled. And then? We do not wish to destroy. We are powerless to prevent."
-Tennessee Williams, 1978

Artists, certainly more sensitive, perhaps more perceptive, have often been the canaries in the coalmine for the human condition. They are compelled to re-enforce their perceptions of the wrongs of their civilization. It needn't be a radical surreal vista like Dali's, or a film of dire warning a la Kubrick, or any dystopian sci fi purged from the minds of Gibson or P.K. Dick. What the artistic soul sees, the rest of world can either ignore or let gradually seep into their consciousness. 

I know the planet is filling up, resources are dwindling; that there are barely enough jobs for everyone, enough food and water. In my mind the chances of the earth self-course correcting (thank you, Lost, for lodging that term in my head) with a more harsh environment, or a corporation-controlled government unleashing a plague that only the 1% has the antidote for (but who will be around to do their dry cleaning?) - they are both equally plausible.

In my own tiny corner of the globe, I toil in a basically unsustainable, vehicle-hungry suburb, where most businesses still can't wrap their heads around allowing their employees to work at home. Sure, everyone brandishes colorful, branded, reusable shopping bags, but the mall parking lots are full - so, that famous recession seems not to have made much visible impact.

I vacillate between relocating to a big city in order to live small and vehicle free, or move to a smalltown to do the same. Each comes with its own price; but, with a broadband connection, I'm good with either. My parents' generation moved into "gated" communities in droves, to stave off the crime and the poor, to recreate their bucolic post-war paradises (although my folks grew up in East Harlem, so I have no clue what the hell they think they're recreating). I get it; I sometimes dream about some sort of clean, safe Disney World-meets-Amsterdam scenario. I grew up watching Fantasy Island - I know these places can be made-to-order.

"This is not escapism; it is super realism, so gritty and detailed and authentic and goddam convincing that…I found my normal present-day 'reality' pallid by comparison."
Philip K. Dick on the impact of Blade Runner, 1981

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