The Concept of Reality and the Role of the Media

This essay explores the notions of various theorists on the subject of terrorism on September 1 1, with a focus on the concept of reality, and the role and effect of the media on that day. Through the use of theoretical frameworks social theory can provide an honest analysis. For the topic of 9-11, three theorists that have stood out and emerged most strongly are Slaves Sleek, Jean Baudelaire, and Jacques Dearly. This essay will concentrate on and explore their theoretical perspectives to bring out both their saltcellars and the important differences between them. Slavs] Sleek Is a

Logician-Marxist who uses the psychoanalyst theories of Lagan combined with a Marxist critique of capitalist society to form his own unique social theories. Lagan’s distinction between the Real’, the Symbolic, and the Imaginary, are fundamental to Seizes work, especially on the issue of terrorism. Understanding these terms is essential if one is to grasp Seizes theories. The three terms each relate too significant way that we experience the world. The Symbolic (or the big Other’) is the realm of language, and In linguistic terms it is represented by the ‘signifier’.

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What his means is that the world operates on mostly a symbolic level, because life, our reality, Is constructed by words. The Symbolic can be seen as the world of words that creates the world of things. Yet these words, as signifier, have no relation to the actual concepts they slangy. We are born Into the world of words, which means that we are born Into the Symbolic order. According to Lagan, this means that we are forever ruled by the conditions set by society that governs us through the rules of language.

The Imaginary is in turn structured by the Symbolic because it is the ‘signified’, it is what we understand by the world. Nevertheless, the Imaginary is not real as it is part of the ego and therefore fundamentally narcissistic. The imaginary is not the real self, but rather what the ego uses to make up for the loss or lack of the ideal self. Finally, the Real’, as defined by Lagan and used by Seize, does not refer to reality as we know it. It Is actually very far from what we believe to be the real, in that it is something that we never have any contact with.

In fact, from the moment we enter language we are forever kept away from the Real. It Is the opposite of the Imaginary and Is Impossible to imagine, because we have no conception of It. All we have Is the symbolic, the words, which separate us from the Real because there Is no actual relation between them and what they represent. This relationship between ten Symbolic Ana ten Real Is part AT want snakes Leeks perspectives on terrorism. He is especially interested in what happens when with an extreme, traumatic encounter of the Real, symbolization fails and we are forced to face it for the first time.

With regards to the September 1 lath attacks, Seize takes a Logician approach to the event in his essay Welcome to the Desert of the Real! ‘, where he explores the implications of the World Trade Centre collapse and the reasons behind the fascination and impact that the disaster caused. Like Lagan, Seize believes that we are not born into reality, or at least what we believe to be reality. The world as he sees it is a ‘symbolic order’, or a space that occupies the level of the symbolic, which is a linguistic dimension and has no direct relation to the real.

The symbolic, therefore, determines what we experience as reality. On September 1 lath, the (symbolic) world in which we live was attacked. The World’ here always refers to the capitalist consumerist order that was the target of the errors on 9-11. Seize views this world as “real”, as a “hyper-reality’ , partly because of its consumerist values and the influence of Hollywood. He also describes it as an “isolated” world, one that functions on the “De-metallization of the ‘real life’ itself”.

What this means is that reality is not reality at all, as already mentioned, but it occupies a symbolic space. This is constantly being strengthened by popular culture which bombards us with fantastical stories and images of catastrophe. The destruction we witnessed on our television screens in fact was not unfamiliar, and hat Seize is ultimately concerned with is the fantasy of this destruction, that existed before and irrespective of the actual event. Seize even believes that what happened that day was an “object of fantasy’ for all of us.

We live in a world where Hollywood, with its always improving special effects creates scenes of complete destruction and devastation that we do not question and we accept readily, because we know it is fiction. Moreover, we are entertained and fascinated by it because it is something so spectacular to see, especially since it is something we intrinsically do want to see. Fictions structure and regulate reality, and what Seize wants to do through his social theory is perceive the “reality in illusion itself”.

When something (an “absolute event” as Baudelaire puts it) like 9-11 happens, it traumatized the world in such a violent and disruptive way that it destabilize the coordinates which organize our reality. Thus, Seize says, we automatically factionalism it in order to handle it. Seize identifies as the cause of the huge impact of the WET collapse the very fact that fiction has actually replaced reality now, that fiction is what structures our reality because the oral functions on the level of the Symbolic.

When something disrupts this level or this world order that we abide to, then reality is shattered. The invasion of 9-11 therefore, was not only a physical invasion of America, but an invasion on what we know to be reality. For the first time, America, which was perhaps cut off from it before this day, was faced with the Real’. Things that we knew took place in other parts of the world, death on such a large scale/magnitude that supposedly only happened in third world countries, suddenly hit home. Ultimately, as Seize himself puts it, the “fantastic screen apparition entered our reality’.

Seize expands on the Logician idea of the fantasy in his essay, and explicates the “twisted logic of dreams” that occupies every human being. In another essay called ‘The Sublime Object of Ideology Seize explains that there is an unconscious fantasy in every person that is “structuring our social realty I en quietest en asks, wanly Is essentially psychoanalytic, is; why do we dream of catastrophe, and then often re-produce these twisted fantasies in various forms of popular culture, when we are more or less living comfortably and without constant fear or terror? Traversing the fantasy, Lagan’s notion, is what Seize proposes . It means that we should identify with and confront the fantasy, and not ignore it. It is only in this way that we can truly get closer to the Real. Facing it would be a big challenge, asserts Seize, because ultimately, “America got what it fantasized about, and this was the greatest surprise. ” Bodybuilder’s notions are quite similar to those of Seize in his essay ‘The Spirit of Terrorism’, where he too asserts that there is a ‘phantasm’ that we need to exorcise, that there is a “terrorist imagination which?unknowingly?inhabits us all”.

In Hollywood, this (exorcism’) is achieved through the creation of disaster films. Both Seize and Baudelaire mention the importance and significance of the disaster movie because of its ability to make something seem real, when in fact we know it to be fiction. They also believe that the world we live in nowadays is getting more and more virtual, and moving further and further away from the Real precisely because of our obsession with disaster as entertainment. Although a disaster film is impressive in its resemblance to reality, we are aware that it is not.

It is for this very reason that when the planes crashed into the twin towers on September 1 lath we could not handle such a combination of the event (which is the Real) with the fantastic. The sight we witnessed was one that we had only ever seen before on a screen, and thus was incomprehensible in its realness. To deal with it we had to resort to a “nightmarish” perspective. Because the world, the ‘reality we are immersed in, was hit by something so immense, we were forced to face up to that perverse feeling and the realization that it dwelled within us.

It is interesting that many films with devastating scenes resembling the footage of the collapse of the World Trade Centre towers were postponed after 9-11. Seize uses this as proof that the films themselves provide the “fantastic background responsible for the impact of the WET collapse”. Ultimately, Seize says that it is most important to realizes and identify what it is we unconsciously perceive in a “fictional mode”. All of this is echoed in Bodybuilder’s theory that reality as a “principle” is lost due to the strength of the fantasy, of the unconscious dreams of chaos.

Now reality has “absorbed the energy of fiction, and become fiction itself. ” It is because of the inability to incorporate the Real into our symbolic world therefore that we factionalism the event. This facilitation’s is somewhat dangerous. Being constantly faced with the image on the day that the WET was attacked neutralized it slightly and shielded the watchers from the ‘realness’ of it. This is what we do when reality as we know it is pulled out from its roots; we detach ourselves from it and associate it with what we know, which is fiction, although we are unaware that we do that.

The main cause of this facilitation’s on September 1 lath, according to both Seize and Baudelaire, was the media coverage. Baudelaire explores the ‘role’ of the media throughout the 9-11 attacks and stresses the importance of the unforgettable flash of images” that bombarded the world that day. Every moment was captured and replayed over and over again on our television screens. The pictures prompted an inner fascination that we have with scenes of destruction, of Allocates on sun a large scale. E level In a world winner ten Image dominates, Ana these are scenes the like of which we have seen many times before in Hollywood disaster movies. According to Baudelaire the image (of the two planes crashing into the twin towers) was practically the event itself, especially at the beginning of the event. The picture, in the form of the real time representation of the horrifying event, was the first thing that we saw. So before the event there is the image; “the image is there first, with the added thrill of the real”.

In the case of 9-11 the image and the event are inseparable, and if hypothetically speaking you were Just given the concept of the 9-11 attack, without the image, or the image without the concept, the impact would not have been the same. The media and the inner fantasy that is fed by popular culture, go hand in hand in shaping our reaction and interpretation of the disaster of September 1 lath. In fact, part of the tragedy of the terrorist attack was that the image caused more fascination than the event itself. Baudelaire saw the danger in the maximum media coverage on 9-11, that gave watchers an absolute “excess of reality’.

He is interested in the ambiguity of the media coverage, remarking that it worked in the interest of both the terrorists and their target, and expecting the media to broadcast the images was a big part of the terror itself. The media coverage and constant footage of the attacks by the local media networks in America and the main global news networks is another way in which the terrorists managed to avoid using their own weapons to attack, they knew they were controlling the media, in the same way that they took control of the (American) planes to crash them into the twin towers.

Deride too feels very strongly about the influence of the media on our interpretation of and our reaction to September 1 lath. In the dialogue ‘Autoimmunity: Real and Symbolic Suicides’ he explains that the seemingly impulsive reaction of shock and horror is not actually spontaneous, but conditioned by the media, or what he calls the “prodigious techno-socio-political machine”. Seize also ejects the assumption that our fascination and shock was impulsive, on the basis that everything we feel is an injunction imposed on us by the world order we were born into.

Deride, however, goes into greater depth with this indictment of the media by breaking down the models of discourse, through deconstruction, that control our thoughts. First of all, the naming of the event by using the date on which it happened is quite significant. The “something” that happened that day is a thing we cannot identify because we can barely comprehend it. It is “an ineffaceable event in the shared archive off universe”. Here, the universe refers to the shared world order of Western society. The very fact that it is ‘shared’ is what makes the media so effective.

We have no concept of the situation whatsoever, but using the name September 11 for what happened on that day seems fine merely because it is the norm. The repetition of it even helps in “deadening, distancing the traumatic”. This is another way in which we are shielded from the Real. Our impression, therefore, was in fact constructed by what Deride calls “an organized information machine”. In Logician terms, it can be said that the Real was delivered to us after easing through a system that distorted it using such means as language, rhetoric, image and media.

These act on a symbolic level (linguistically) and therefore what we get is a “conceptual mutation” of the truth. The influx of all this political discourse, that we take on and use without questioning it, influences our Interpretation. I en Tally AT all tans Lies In ten Tact Tanat essentially we make an interpretation of something that we do not even understand. Furthermore, the “system of interpretation” that we are born into causes everyone to think in the same way. Definitions, the concept of certain words can be changed freely by the powerful forces in society.

Thus, there will be unanimous understanding of words, even if it the meanings are distorted. The difference between the meanings of the words War’ and terrorism’ can be taken here as an example of how concepts are distorted in order to retain the ‘good’ image of the superpower. The terms are obscure, and there is in fact indecision about the concept behind the terminology. Yet the system still uses these words because the more obscure they are then the more we accept them, “semantic instability’ actually serves their purposes.

Moreover, since it is the superpower that controls the media, then it seemingly always remains on the side of the ‘good’. Our reactions are hence constructed through the absorption of the discourse of the media. Evidently, the main concern of these three theorists is with the falsity of our reactions to 9-11, that unknown to us, we are conditioned to think in a certain way. Social theorists often spark controversy with their writings because they challenge ‘safe’ commentaries about 9-11, focusing on the internal problems rather than the external. In other words, the theoretical perspectives of Seize,

Baudelaire, and Deride look not at the evil, immorality behind the act which we know to exist, but the inner cause, or the interior fantasy of the targeted world that conditioned the perception of the tragic event. In social theory there is always a preoccupation with freedom or the lack of it. Indeed, theorists are convinced that society subtly imposes on us an ‘unfounded’ that is difficult to detect. To discover and fully comprehend the extent to which we are conditioned we must re-assess reality as we know it and identify what we perceive as a facilitation’s of the Real.

Only then will the Real be slightly more clear. What happened on September 1 1 the, however devastating, exposed for the first time the foreign dimension that is the Real. An analysis of how this was reacted to provides a theoretical framework for social theory to identify and more clearly understand the nature of Western society. The theorists Seize, Baudelaire, and Deride, although they are criticized for being controversial, were not trying to indict society for what happened, but were looking for ways in which society can improve by self-reflection after such a horrendous event.

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