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Philosophy

Seduced by Illusion

I wonder what it is about an image that fools the mind so swiftly, so sweetly and so completely. The suspension of disbelief in the essential illusion with which we are presented is so natural and so subtle as to be all but invisible to us. It is perhaps precisely in this invisibility that they key to more than just images lies, dangling there just in front of us but somehow and mysteriously, mischievously beyond our everyday, unreflective perception.

Beyond biological programming towards the survival advantages of vision, beyond the cognitive and cultural training we undergo to learn to perceive particular kinds of images in or through and as a fairly narrow spectrum of interpretation and normative conceptual vocabulary – there is something else essential and mystifying (but not entirely unintelligible) about our shared human susceptibility to illusion.

In considering the illusory, the fictional and simulated reality we are led into a narrowing labyrinth of existential reflex. We by no means choose to be fooled or tricked by an illusion but find ourselves swept away in them because the foundational assertion of the reality of an illusory truth is in fact (and also) the core of self-identity and personality. This world of illusion (or myth, even ideology) is purely and simply an unsubstantiated truth that, however, and from within the moving frame of reference and belief system or web of interdependent words-as-meanings through which we interpret it obtains a bootstrapped and tautological, self-referential significance that not only fails – serially – to perceive the utterly unanchored and groundless emptiness of its own assertions of reality, but that is bound by this illusion to be eternally entranced and seduced by the illusion of an image.

We seek and unconsciously fixate upon that inauthentic reality in the mirror of the image, a language, a belief system or a technology because it allows us to indirectly (and inversely) obscure the essential fiction that we ourselves inhabit, that we are. Adrift in meaninglessness, we acquire meaning by the very practice, habit and seductive illusion of this emptiness.

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