Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Pathological Migration of Truth in a Post Po-Mo Society (Culture & Philosophy)

Manila Bulletin, Lifestyle Section (Art & Culture), August 25, 2008, pp. F 1-2.

"If you would be a real seeker after truth, you must at least once in your life doubt, as far as possible, all things."
- Rene Descartes, Discourse on Method

In a convoluted world of mass media, spoken words, texts and visual images cascade like insalubrious waters from a huge repository of dense and elliptical concept of created realities. Subliminal images, casuistic answers to the problems that are not yet existent, textual and visual intimations are barraged, aggressively, in the human psyche as though they were the embodiment of Truth.

The illusive landscape of realities had never been before portrayed and magnified in such a persuasive manner that even those who speak about it convincingly believe that it existed. What is sensational before the very eyes of the consumers in a consumerist society is more real and tangible than the Truth itself, which can be bland and boring.

A showbiz personality, for instance, who has a steamy liaison, is more appealing and titillating to the human senses than the person who is doing a benevolent act to the society. The former is worth millions of audiences while the latter is worth only a handful and fifteen seconds of praise on the television.

And those who have the power and money to influence the mass media possess the power to distort and bend reality for their own advantage than those who have nothing but the Truth, which is also, ironically, tradable depending on the price being offered.

A multi-national corporation can pour millions of dollars on a questionable product via a mass media campaign by tailoring the “truth” for global market even if the “product” threatens the well-being of the society or the environment. Corrupt political leaders can invent or twist the Truth in their favor by hiring a high caliber PR company just to maintain their power and popularity before the eyes of their constituents.

Lamentably, the commoditization of “Truth” in our post po-mo (post-modern) society is so blatant that those who can afford millions of dollars worth of “truths” possess the power to influence, dictate to, and manipulate people and society.

Does Truth still matter or is it just subservient to the created world of mass media and popular culture?

Conformity of Freedom and Created Needs

Mass culture, as part of popular culture, produces mass production of goods and services to satisfy the needs of the consumers. Mass media presented these goods and services in a highly fashionable manner in such a way that the credulous consumers believe them as the real panacea of their needs.

The main target of mass culture is the exploitation of the insatiable human needs, creating and inventing realities to gratify the same needs and wants, which are obsessively ravenous and self-centered. The more consumer products pour in the market the higher the human desire to accumulate the “goods” in a frenzy manner.

The manic urge to accumulate seems irrational and endless, resulting in “decisional exhaustion” and “estrangement of needs” (when a man has already obtained what he wants but finds inappropriate or irrelevant on the “needs” that he just acquired). The symptom is subliminally pathological, submitting and surrendering oneself without question to the multifaceted array of commoditized products in the global market.

Who can resist, for instance, a new technological gadget that promises more features than the previously sold in the market? Who can resist a “wonder drug” that promises overnight beauty or slimming effect or instant relief from hopelessness and depression? Who can resist a sublime promise of various political, religious and rebel leaders for a harmonious and prosperous society?

No one! Because the human psyche of a thinking being in a post po-mo society is anxious, nay, gullible to believe on anything or anyone that can satisfy the absurd quest for sensational “truth”. Consequently, rational judgment has been diluted with an inordinate array of product-collocations and subliminal messages that are bombarded in the human consciousness.

Freedom is no longer defined as “free will” but a freedom to believe, accumulate or belong to anyone or anything that possesses the power to mimic, create or twist the “Truth”.

The Pathological Migration of Truth

The Truth is discernible because it is perceived by a thinking being based on the empirical and metaphysical realities of this world. What happens if a thinking being ceases to rationalize and perceive the Truth, can the Truth still exists or will it transform into a new facet of truth to fit within the irrational realities of a thinking being?

Intrinsically, the evolution of Truth from medieval to modern period follows a dialectic movement, a Hegelian principle on thesis, antithesis and synthesis. In popular culture, the Truth does not evolve in a dialectical mode; instead, it subverts and mimics the Truth to become the archetypal reality of a consumerist society.

The mass culture commoditized this “archetypal reality” by inventing and creating “human needs” in the form of consumer products. The advent of highly technologic “mass media devices” magnifies and heightens the commoditized human needs in varying moods and manners as though they were indispensable in the lives of the consumers.

The sensationalized “truth” that is presented by mass media is so illusively real and tangible that it transmogrifies itself into a new reality, creating an endemic effect on the credulous society. This transmogrification process is the pathological migration of truth from subliminal to a “commoditized truth”, which is subconsciously guzzled in the human consciousness by popular culture.

The “Pathological Migration of Truth”, as coined and defined by this writer, is the migration of subliminal truth in the human psyche with pathologic behavior to believe or acquire commoditized realities that provide instant or temporary relief in the human senses.

The migratory process is inevitably viral, dulling the human judgment amid the pandemic influx of product-collocations and subliminal mediums that are pounding the human mind on a daily basis. As such, the deviation of human behavior and perception of reality is inchoately encoded to believe on a “sensationalized reality”, which can be bought, sold, exchanged or traded in the global market.

The pathological migration of truth via commoditized product does not only alleviate the fleeting needs of the consumers, it also “viagrates” the frigidity of human soul by suppressing the previously unfulfilled needs with another “created needs” in a gradational manner.

Hence, what has been imbibed in the human psyche during the pathological migration becomes a “contiguous reality”, so that when a stimulus of commoditized needs is presented before the consumers, it immediately seeks instant response from the human senses. And the response is always programmed to acquire those “created needs”; otherwise, the unfulfilled “needs” will create existential void in one’s soul.

The Defragmentation of Convoluted Truths

Can we defragment the cluttered “truths”, as purported by popular culture, in the same way as we defragment the cluttered files in our computer system?

The truth is – the cluttered “truths” that we believe or acquire from the dictate of popular culture is nothing but the substitutions of our own uncertainty of realities. We believe in these “truths” because they respond to the urgency of our “sensual needs”. They instantly satisfy the insatiable desire of a pleasure-seeking “self”, which is egotistical by nature.

It is easier to believe, for instance, on a “magical pill” that promises an overnight slimming effect than believing on diet and exercise that will take several months for a 300-pounder to reduce. It is easier to believe on beauty product that is being endorsed by a celebrity figure with flawless skin even if, by birth, our own skin is craggy and irreparable, because we illusively want to identify ourselves with the endorser.

Conversely, to defragment the created “truths” is to redefine our hierarchy of needs based on our actual reality, and not the reality that is being haggled on us by mass media and mass culture. After redefining our hierarchy of needs, we have to validate whether these created “truths” are relevant or irrelevant in our pursuit for happiness and the common good of the society.

An individual can only be free if the mind is void of any preconceived notion of “truths”, because the very source of freedom to believe comes from the soul of a rational being, which seeks an Ideal Truth that resides in the human soul. This “ideal truth” is preordained to the Summum Bonum or “highest good” based on faith, hope and love of humanity.

The Summum Bonum does not seek gratification on material things but on the transcendent realities of Love, Beauty and Justice. These metaphysical realities provide lasting effect in the human soul rather than the fleeting effect of “created truths” in the human senses.

To sum, no one can destroy a man who is not programmed to believe on any created “truths” because he is his own reason of Truth and the Truth is the reason why he is.

© Danny Castillones Sillada


Above Artworks:(1) The Pathological Migration of Truth in Aesthetics, works on paper by Danny C. Sillada, (2) The Truth Behind the Mask (oil on canvas by Danny Sillada), (3) Truth Without Reason, pen & ink by Danny Sillada, (4) Created Truths in Art (works on canvas by Danny Sillada).

How to cite this essay:

Sillada, Danny Castillones. “The Pathological Migration of Truth in a Post Po-Mo Society”. Manila Bulletin (Arts and Culture) 25 August 2008; F 1-2. Print.