This morning, I had an imaginary conversation with my father. Imaginary, because he wasn't actually there, but was probably at home, eating his museli. buIf he had been there, however, this is the conversation I'm guessing we would have had.
A van drove past me on Collins St with Thylacine Constructions written on the side. I turned to my father, imaginarily, as said "Did you see that van?" He nodded.
I said "So, what kind of constructions do you think a thylacine would make?"
Dad said "I think it would be something quite dark and cave-like."
"Something pretty well camoflauged?"
"I guess the roof would be quite low, wouldn't it?"
"Yes, I'd imagine so. I don't think thylacines have much use for vaulted ceilings."
"No, you wouldn't think so. Especially now they're extinct."
"Well yes. I think their constructions would probably be made out of things they found around them."
"Reclaimed timbers and such like?"
We walked along for another block in silence, and then I had to turn off down Victoria St. My father (who wasn't there) waved goodbye and headed off in the other direction.
Yesterday Thieu and I both got our leave approved for next year. Thieu is taking long service leave and is heading OS for six months. I've been given three months and am going for part of the time, too. This is terribly exciting. Of course, it will mean that I have to defer a semester of my MA, but I'm hoping that this is going to be ok.
We're going to depart around March 20, which is really not very long away at all.
In yesterday's discussion of hyperreality I linked to a website charting the changing, fictitional face of Betty Crocker. Chuck left a comment about another American brand, Brawny Towels, whose public face has also undergone a makeover. (personally, I think I preferred him in his Burt Reynolds phase....)
In Australia, there is, of course, Redheads matches. And there must be more, I'm just having trouble thinking of them right now. Solo man? Mr Sheen?
“One knows quite well that there are no longer any exact images of the world, no more mirrors – there are only tricks with mirrors… a game with the vestiges of what has been destroyed.” [Jean Baudrillard, 1984. ‘Game with Vestiges’, On The Beach. London: 5: 19-25. 226]
So what does that mean, exactly?
Well, I guess he’s talking about the hyperreal: He’s referring to images as simulacra; ones that bear no relation to reality at all and represent nothing but themselves.
I don’t understand. How can an image represent nothing but itself? Do you mean like some kind of pure abstraction?
How about this: A mirror reflects something that’s placed in front of it. A trick with mirrors makes something appear to be there, that isn’t. The trick mirror is merely reflecting its reflection.
But there must have been an original thing there at some stage, to create the reflection…
Yes, probably. But it's so removed from this reflection of a reflection that the original thing becomes unnecessary, even meaningless.
I think I need an example.
Ok. How about a brand like the American “Betty Crocker.” There never was a Betty Crocker. She’s a marketing strategy, designed to fit the feel that the company wants to convey about their product.
She changes with fashion to always be recognisable as the type of comfy, home-baked mother / wife that the company wants us to want in our lives.
There may be real people like Betty Crocker, though.
Maybe, but that’s irrelevant. Betty Crocker is more like the ideal than they can actually be. She’s better than real.
Any more examples?
How about the embedded media in the recent Iraq / US war. Don’t you think that those journalists’ producers would be asking for footage which corresponded with the popular conception of what war looks like, as described in movies and tv shows?
They can only film what’s there. Are you suggesting they fabricated stuff?
You don’t need to fabricate. You are just selective in what and how you film. The camera represents some person’s judgement and viewpoint, don’t forget. It is never without biases.
So, I guess Big Brother falls into this category too?
Yes. Reality TV is all about simulation, I would say. People on those shows become actors playing themselves. It's about as opposite to reality as you can get.
You ask difficult questions, for an ant.
(I hope I have this right. If I don't, please let me know...)
I ended up taking Friday off and we headed up to the Prom in the late afternoon. Had a truly tremendous weekend, with the rain kindly holding off for most of the time and the wombats, which are becoming something of a terror at the Prom, not rampaging through our tent. The only downside was being jipped an hour by the start of daylight savings (and the seagulls who squarked us awake early both mornings.)
We went on a couple of great walks, setting out as a large group each time and with people peeling off owing to the demands of small children or just because not everyone wants to spend their entire weekend walking. La Spin, Thieu and I, however, do like to do this, so we tramped up hill and down dale with much joy. We confirmed the squeakiness of Squeaky Beach and were disappointed by the lack of bishops at the top of Mt Bishop (but enjoyed the view all the same.) La Spin and I sang Billy Bragg songs all the way down and Thieu tried to disassociate himself from us, for some reason.
At the risk of alarming my mother I must confess that the family curse of bad feet seems to be catching up with me the older I get, and I discovered that my well worn right hiking boot, which has never caused me any problems before, gave me a great deal of pain and I ended up just wearing my runners for most of the time. Another thing I don't want to think about.