IMHO 11: Media Mythos
story © Michael Betancourt, November 9, 2003 all rights reserved.
repost from The Miami Art Exchange
After more than a century of gradual development we have arrived at a point in time where all our desires, interests, beliefs, and thoughts are carefully tallied and counted through polls and marketing analysis to better sell us anything that we might happen to have a passing fancy for. This situation has resulted in a simultaneous creation and destruction within our collective psyches. The past has become as much a close world as it is a world before. The meaning which invested itself in all aspects of our arranged human world are now as meaningless as stones. We do not exist with the density of meaning which invested the worlds of our ancestors. This is what we have lost, destroyed by the need of manufacturing and consumption to always provide new goods, new services, even if these goods and services are themselves unnecessary, or even wasteful, of our lives and our money. The goods are produced, so there must be a market for them, consumers willing and able to pass over their currency for whatever thing it is that is sold.
To make this transaction easier for us, the marketing and public relations industries—they are industries in more than metaphoric sense—have evolved. Their only purpose is to make us desire and act on our desire by purchasing what ever object happens to be their task of the moment to sell. Meaning must be lost in this process or else we might not buy; with meaning comes responsibility and a connection to the past, with its prohibitions against exactly the kind of spurious activity marketing and public relations use as the basis of their sales pitches. Marketing sells objects; public relations sells ideas. Both use the same techniques to encourage actions by their audiences.
Human beings, however, do not survive well without a constellation of meaning surrounding them, and where meaning is absent, it is created. The so-called "gang" and youth cultures — while containing an element of the marketing and public relations sales pitches (it is inevitable that both would attempt to evacuate meaning from these cultures) — are spontaneous developments of meaning against the attempts at erasure by the industries which are adopted and reused by these groups. That both cultures are produced primarily by youths is not accidental. It is the youths who most need to make connections to constellations of meaning because it is only through such connections that individuals build relationships to the world beyond their immediate self. Without such connections there can be no community since a community is embodied specifically by individuals with specific, clearly defined relationships. It is a circular arrangement by necessity.
What happens when the bonds between the past meanings and the present world are broken is quite simple: without myths, fables and religion to provide a series of psychological tropes, those objects and stories told through the media replace the mythological world. Scooby Doo replaces the trickster Coyote; Hellraiser replaces Inferno, creating a world without possibility of redemption, where the monstrous can only be defeated momentarily because they will inevitably return in sequels (to high profits).
Once there was a mythological world which found its partner in the minds of individuals, a fact noted by both Freud and Jung. But it is a fact that seems less and less physically present with each passing day because what once was part of the natural order is now unusual; the images of our consciousness are created and marketed by the media, and it is here that we find the images we once knew reborn, reformulated to become something different. Our psyches are filled with imagery of media: electronic, fleeting, unreal, and unnatural. It is this which has become the source for our new myth world.
Copyright © Michael Betancourt November 9, 2003 all rights reserved.
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