Anonymous at Will
The Treachery of Images is a 1929 painting by surrealist painter René Magritte.
It was painted when Magritte was 30 years old, and, though the idea of the thing is now almost a century old, it continues to inspire generations to think deeply about the nature of thing or perhaps to simply get a tattoo that says, “Look at me! I like to think.”
Humor aside, I like to think of Magritte’s work as simply saying “Do not interpret me.” While this is, ironically, itself an interpretation, the idea gnaws at an matter which screams unceasingly in the ears of anyone engaged with modern society: one redressed over time as simulacra and simulation; as syntax, semantics, and semiotics; as representation and reasoning.
Now, while I have no intention of attempting a proper philosophical treatment of perception and reality, I would like to use what has been said to lay some ground rules for what this “blog” is and what it is not.
Anonymous at will
Almost anything that gains attention these days, becomes eventually becomes more ‘the place it fits in society and contemporary gossip’ that what it was or meant to be to begin with.
Likewise, the creators of these things thus become responsible for continually engaging in the chatter, social media flame wars, and other offensive and defensive means to preserve the distortion field surrounding themselves and their creation to accurately reflect their own perception or ambitions (to grow improve their image or grow their brand).
As creatures subject to oversimplified mental models, ones that often reflect our primal instincts of a role based social hierarchy, it’s easy to find oneself in a world in which everyone and even every idea is valued based on it’s “type” in a shifting cultural economy of signs and symbols, where the winners, in the most literal sense, ‘capture the public’s imagination’ having transacted in the lucrative business of (what is ultimately) deception.
And, this is where we get to the crux of the matter. Each time you look at social media post, read a news article, view any form of media you consume the representative interests of others, promoting or demoting an idea, person, or thing. Your mind makes a note of it. It factors into your mental models, and you perception is re-weighted to reflect these interests rather than what we might think you are thinking.
What’s just as bad as this mental manipulation is that the people who engage in this market are no better off, and the ultimate cost is that market of ideas remains broken such that there are no guarantees that the best ideas will rise to the top of our social consciousness.
The silver lining in all this is that at least we have a choice, and we have a market.
We can choose to significantly reduce our media consumption and systematically reintroduce it’s more necessary elements while observing how it effects us.
Moreover, as creators we can choose to disengage from the type of brand warfare that makes the market of ideas less interpretable and casts those of us who achieve social recognition as demigods, the heroes of our age.
That is we can choose not to worship others, and we can divert attention to our actions rather than the of task of self aggrandizement.
Some final notes:
Ultimately, I am drawn to the idea of a public journal:
- One that transparently catalogues ideas and personal stories apart from the influence of branding.
- One that, not being held to account for any external consequence, is free to chronicle the events of life in a manner that is free to be utterly truthful so that that truth may be judged on it’s merit alone.
It’s not unreasonable to believe that the popularity of an idea, should in some sense correlate with how much value it adds to an individual and ones community.
As such, this is an anonymous tale of how it all began, of how it transpired. At least, it is an attempt at one.
May your story resonate loudly with those it helps, and may you be made stronger in your weakness as you pursue truth and kindness.