However, they do become reified, and then, failure to discourse in them is immediatelyinadequate, because in the ‘real world’ no-one listens. In the self-descriptions of society
inpolitics, in media analysis, in everyday sociology
inability to engage in discourse and inabilityto be heard is death. It is said that what they teach students of communications and journalism isnot about the real world. The real world has already been selected over at the main game. All thedisciplines of everyday sociology make up a discourse that is about itself.
Archaeology of virtual reality.
Sociology has long had a name for the way society’s self-descriptions conjure up their ownreality: reification. Reification is a natural consequence of the reflexive predicament of socialevolution. Reified things are virtually (i.e. effectively) real
and no less real for that. Virtualreality has been around since humans have been describing themselves
since nature inventedthe animal technology of language and humans ran with it. Like ‘Australians’, humans have longbeen keen to take up new information technologies.
Invasion of the body snatchers.
What if we reported events as media events? We would report the mountain coming to the media;otherwise it would disappear. We would report its use of vision, celebrity, issues, conflict, andviolence to replicate itself in stories and images. We would report the plots, terms and imagesusing the brains of journalists, editors, producers and the people out there as nests for theirreproduction. We would televise the same question stalking every interview: ‘How do you feel?’
How do you feel?
‘The distinctions of feeling are wholly abstract…they are not distinctions which apply to thesubject matter itself (Hegel)’. Feeling is supposed to be about concrete experience, and thehallmark of authentic individuality
hence its value as a way of hiding individuality from psycheand society. Its use as a term is a sign of the pernicious and unacknowledged reductionism of oureveryday sciences of self-understanding. Strange that what makes news is smarmy questioningabout such an abstraction, reducing everyone to ciphers so that they can be parasitised andhumiliated by the same response. Who would have thought that popular culture (in this case thenews) was more abstract than metaphysics. Like the cinema-going public, I prefer fiction todocumentary. This is mainly because too much documentary is biography
especially on TV.Everyone’s got an Australian story. Truth is not as strange as fiction. Truth is true
that is itsstrange fascination. The fictive predicament of biography, and worse, the delusive misuse of fiction’s licence are the chronic problems of biography. Biographers, screen or literary, cannotavoid this fictivity. We might call it the narrativity of biography, the fact that events have to beselected and an argument (story) constructed. We have the art of fiction to make a virtue of thisnarrativity. One way it does this is by inducing wonderful orgies of feeling to ruthlessly scrutinisethem. As for true biography, there may never have been such a thing. The epitome of badbiography is the schmalzy answer already selected for subjects by the question: How do you feel?The more guarded among us have always suspected that, like its congeners in sport and realityTV, a news appearance was humiliating, fictive and 15 seconds to be avoided if possible.
Examples of some handy terms that use us in society’s self descriptions: the media, thecommunity, society, culture, image, issues, real issues, deal with issues, public opinion, voterfeeling, in touch with, ordinary Australians, take offence, out there, low socio-economic,generation, young people, listen to, send the wrong message, sell, take on board, look ahead, whatwe need, leadership, work towards, manage change, at the end of the day, etc. Francis Bacon