Saturday, May 23, 2009
Something fascinating occurs when a group of people put their minds and will toward proving a belief they have. They give a life to something. They create a phenomena, an observable fact or event. Something that exists as long as they are there to will it into existence. Well, sort of exists. What exists is a collective will. A collective fantasy. One of the definitions of fantasy reads like this: the power or process of creating, especially unrealistic or improbable mental images in response to psychological need. Here is another word: chimerical. Existing only as a product of unrestrained imagination. What a great word. I am fascinated by the hoax that becomes believed. What is created? What is brought into this world? A hoax becomes something for as long as it is held as true. It has characteristics and observable circumstances. It can be as simple as an urban myth that lingers long after it’s perpetration, or as vast and entangled as a fully established religion. What happens when the hoax goes on so long that people who perpetrated it are no longer available to reveal it as a hoax? What is the power people have to uphold and maintain a fantasy? I think it is tremendous. Do we call it a hoax if the consequences, that take on a life of their own, were unintentional? What do we have when a hoax is perpetrated with intention, but spins off a whole life of it’s own, the ramifications of which, the original hoaxers could never have imagined? We are able to believe things that are not true. We can be misled, misguided, wrong. We are also capable of applying tremendous energy toward proving and justifying and rationalizing a fiction. We can create amazing constructs and elaborate systems that are all base upon our fiction. What works are these? People can devote a lifetime defending a false premise. There seems to be no mechanism in place to kick out a fiction once it has gone on long enough and established itself in the heart and minds of a critical mass of believers. Other people can be drawn into the phenomena and spend a life’s work trying to disprove the fiction and set the wayward souls a right. Thus two sets of lives are consumed by the hoax. Two lives, two groups, two generations. At what point do we stop recognizing the original hoax and just deal with the thing that has been manifest by it as a fact of our reality? Thus the hoax becomes the reality, which is the ultimate accomplishment of a hoax.