Thursday, October 28, 2004

Faith in Fakes

This is a collection of Umberto Eco's essays written in the 70s and 80s. Two things struck a cord:

1. In the introduction he talked about the tradition of European intellectuals writing "columns" in popular newspapers and magazines. He said there is a need for insecure people like himself (I'm sure he doesn't really mean it) to get their thoughts down on paper before they change or even vanish. I share his feelings in this regard. Academic publishing is a tediously long process and there is much pressure to get it "perfect" before revealing it to the world. Unlike blogging! which is a GREAT invention. Wonder if Eco has his own blog....if not, someone should tell him to get one.

2. The subtitle of his book is called "travels in hyperreality". Do people want the real thing? Or just a fascimile of the real thing? Does it matter? Some things in life, we know we can't have the real thing. Like bigger boobs, bigger penises. But we can get fake ones. It appears that many people do not mind fakes as long as they are just *like* the real thing. Miniature statues of the Eiffel Tower, fake Louis Vuittons from Shenzhen. How about fake emotions and feelings? Faking gratitude, admiration and appreciation have always been important social lubricants. Those who can do them well are in possession of important social capital. If you can fake it well enough, then why bother with genuinity? Are there boundaries to be drawn? At what point does faith in fakes change from postmodern irony to moral and aesthetic depravity?

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