Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thomas de Zengotita Essay

"...What all media, all representations—from street signs to photographs to emoticons—have in common is this: they pay attention to you, they address you. Sometimes generically, as with street signs, sometimes precisely, as with person-specific ring tones. And all that attention is flattering—indeed, it is a form of flattery so pervasive, and so essential to the nature of representation, that it has escaped notice as such, though it ultimately accounts for the oft-remarked narcissism of our time.3 The very process by which reality and representation become fused in the age of the simulacrum is delivered to our psyches by the flattery of representation. We have been consigned by it to a new plane of being, a new kind of life-world, an environment of representations of fabulous quality and inescapable ubiquity, a place where everything is addressed to us, everything is for us, and nothing is beyond us anymore.
During the mass-media age (roughly co-extensive with the modernist period), the hidden blandishments of representational flattery were already at work. Broadcast representations were implanting in anonymous spectators a desire for public significance commensurate with their unconscious sense of centrality—for it was, after all, to them that all performances were addressed. But celebrities were monopolizing public attention, gorging on it. The most basic of specifically human needs—the need for acknowledgment, for significance, for a place in the world—was left unsatisfied. Spectators were craving, however inchoately, their fair share of that attention. All that was lacking were the means. Until recently...