Dream : Reimagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy... Is a book I would strongly recommend even as an entry into the world of politics for the growing mind who may be lost in its many tunnels, streams, and deltas. Or even someone who may perceive politics to be simultaneously evil but in the same instance necessary to keep order in reality. This is a book about revisualizing, politically, what the liberals/left need to do in order to reinstate their claim at the top of the game. Keeping in mind this book was written in 2007, the book would have entirely different ramifications today with current events such as the twilight of Obama's first (last?) term as president and the Occupy Wall Street movement.
In the art context, this is visualized in a whole new phenomenon : how the post-modern world can recapture what it meant to say when "life imitates art" and by my own imagination "art should not belong to the rich". Art should be utilizing the progressive forms and transmission of imagination we've come to expect from a modern society and make it its own strength rather than a liability. The old axiom is that purists reject technology for its ease, while artists born into the digital age reject modernism (lets boil it down to that word) for being behind a certain time. This is the battle between left and right for me, who often times needs a little sugar to swallow the medicine of (often times evil) politics. What we need is a "dreampolitik" : something that will keep progressivism interesting while being "cool" to the everyman which is represented by the purists. This is just the same with art itself and what ultimately translates to the aesthetic zeitgeist. Post-modernism in its anything-goes aura needs to find a way to maintain its safeness without A.) falling into a total capital mode of sustainment and B.) recapturing why we fell in love with art in the first place : imagination. Not to be confused with creativity, because good art always has an element of that. But 'imagination'… The inner self… The 'everyman'. Said best by Jean Jacques Rousseau : "Man is his own politics against superstition and guessing." Life is a series of compromises. Life is a series of superstitions that might leave the human empty and guessing when it comes time to "think for themself". We need a 'dreampolitik' to unify the everyman and the professional.
Its so real... But its so not. A unification
of intellect and emotions. Playing at our desires.
Society and politics tend to gravitate towards fact over fantasy. We see the fantasy as a distraction from politics, but if there's a spectacle in reality (grounded heavily there, for example Terry Schiavo). Art could find a way to create this spectacle in common form, without of course, being tasteless with the subject matter. Spectacle is our way of making sense of the world. Reality needs fantasy to make it desirable as fantasy needs reality to make it believable. Bhagavad gita inspires politics for being a ruling spectacle of biblical proportions. The church is tied to the state which constantly reinspires the state and gives order. There are forms of very personal belief inspiring the formal order, strengthening it. When one side has evidence and another side has a narrative, there is a juxtaposition of force in narrative's favor. You wanna see a movie? Fahrenheit 9/11 or Braveheart?
The narrative speaks to the mind of the fantasy and yearning for spectacle, where as evidence is unmodular (Re: evolution vs. creationism, and especially Re: it in the Bible Belt.) Makes me wonder if society is ultimately in favor of modernism.. With the self-contained fantasy winning. Perhaps its chalked up to dystopia and we're seeking for the 'spectacle' to win out. Bush won by catering to the everyman (spectacle) versus John Kerry whom emphasized the spectacular self (the war hero). Who knows if Kerry would have ended up being a good/bad president, taking out of account specific details of flip-flopping and etc. It could even be argued Obama's victory (especially by heavy, right wing enthusiasts) be called a 'spectacle' victory. Marshall McLuhan, mass media writer, is quoted in the book (in paraphrase) that, "ultimately the politician will be all too fast to abdicate his politics in favor of his own image." Its on a scale now where it is certainly probable. As a matter of fact, isn't that what politics is all about? How evil! How.. distant from the everyman in fact. LIke an artist out of touch with their public, the politician might need to do just the same to unbury what has been buried. Whatever plethora of things that might be.
Appeal both to reason.. And the average homeboy.
Truth happens to an idea. You create a myth to reel the people in. One of the most effective ways to persuade people are to tap into their dreams. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend. Only imagery matters. Just as the book discusses advertising (in regard to politics).. "Sublimation and Redirection." Targeting our needs and using them to promote. Just like the zeitgeist process… Eliminating aesthetics when old with modern ones. Adverisement is a web of broken promises bouncing off one another. When one aspect of believablity fails, you'll plummet quickly to believe another one, and another one. This is what the current politics scene tends to be, and its vague, since mistakes are extended over a period of time in the form of wars and policies passed on the Senate floor. We don't see results of pain right away… its a slow burn. I might attribute this in art to the lessened ability to accept criticism, especially in a younger generation (I sense) which is more excitable than the rest. When mistakes are made, artists need to suffer for it. Not particularly alone with fantasy or with society to cope quickly.. but as a dreampolitik where they adhere "yes my imagination is still golden, it just needs to be readjusted to fit the norm. I'm alright."
Back to the in-tolerance of criticism… Of all places, I notice this in video games and more so online. The youth are in part being raised by this sense of fantasy (the book) being buried in the mundane and hardships (growing) of reality. Thus, deepest desires (eros and thantos) expressed on screen. Buddhism/reincarnation, oldest concepts which can predate simulation, are related to dying in a video game. It is the magic circle- a circle where the outside world doesn't exist. Participation is a key to progressivism and not the myth of it. But sometimes… participation (like video games) can lead to self-indulgence and separation from society even when so connected to it. Being "so close but so far". This is where the book argues that liberals are disconnected from the public and I think post-modernism might be disconnected from the public. By too much accessibility and "anything goes"… it is a certain pigeonhole into not knowing where to go next. Its as if its no more surprises… Like our lives, like a sandbox video game, and predetermined and simulated for us to wander through. Everything is handed to us, like a safe liberal doing so, and we don't care because "we expect it". I'm not saying set the world on fire, but light a small fire under our accessibility in art to give it more structure and possibility draw the line between accessibility to everyone but more defined levels of class and difficulty both on the imagination and craft front where they are recognized with valor.. rather than only by the hour. Time is illusion to the free mind. Time exists to the contained. Wouldn't it beautiful to be constantly in midnight? Especially as the end is drawing near in some minds…
Available for download on