Rendered Fat Content


Willem van Haecht: Collection of Cornelis de Geest with Paracelsus (1630s)
" … the real one this time."

I find myself exhausted by the seemingly endless arrays of alternate realities offered to me each day. My choices overwhelm me. Which reality should I engage with today? The one just outside my window might have once been sufficient, but the many within just our modest Villa seem to dwarf and upstage it. Skimming my many books, each presenting a different perspective, could consume several lifetimes. TV, radio, podcasts, and things Internet each present slightly different representations of Re-Ality, each a little different, each somehow also the same. They each seem to try to characterize a separate reality in various degrees of believability. I consider my reality palate somewhat refined. I won't agree to swallow just anything. Sci-Fi, for instance, never qualified as either believable or entertaining to me. Reality TV seems far removed from any form of reality I've ever even imagined. I was blissfully unaware that such a character as a bachelorette even existed, for instance, until I was subjected to such a presence on a so-called reality TV show. But what do I know?

I once believed myself to be my own arbiter of reality, as if I got to choose which version I subscribed to, but I fear that I've somehow lost that ability, surrounded as I seem to be with so many perspectives seemingly far superior to my own.
Much of what I believed I'd known, I've called into question in light of some fresh revelation. What once seemed distant, fanciful assertions now qualify as perfectly normal. When my television was just black and white, it seemed as though I might maintain a separation between my life and my entertainment. Now that my entertainment's exclusively in color, I hardly bother to discern one from the other. The colors intended to merely represent reality seem more vibrant than the ones my actual presence register. Should I feel surprised which version I seem to increasingly prefer? Merchants manipulate me and I willingly return so that they might manipulate me all over again and again and again. I so infrequently feel confused that I really should have concluded that I was being manipulated, lied to. How very comforting it seems.

I lost my baseline somewhere along the line between there and here. I seem to have come to prefer someone else's perspective. I read my favorite columnists to learn what I think. I don't so much read the news as feed myself with it, swallowing without very much discernment whatever I've come to trust. Whole industries now exist with the sole purpose of manipulating my once-free choices. They exclusively speak in loud and confident voices. My own small and comparatively still voice seems to stand little chance of rising above the tumult accompanying even lesser revelations. I'm almost convinced that I'm free to choose whatever I want to believe. If I can accept that This Damned Pandemic serves as no threat to me, then so be it. I might believe that I can manifest any reality that suits me, such has liberty evolved.

Some days I fear that nobody remembers reality, back before variations of it became the primary commodity driving our economy: the serenity of a personal reflection, the sublime dignity of circumspection. This Damned Pandemic might be the most dangerous visitation in many generations, for it injects some hard realities into our dedicatedly distracted society. It brought the kind of reality unaffected by how loud anyone turned up their television, one invulnerable to dismissive deflection. It caught us unaware that a definite reality still lurked out there, one which we had always been powerless to ignore. Oh, sure, plenty chose to ignore it, having learned the spurious superpower of learned ignorance and turned that force into their chosen form of existence. Some raised their voices to complain and found plenty willing to listen to them, a few even taking up arms to defend their liberty against this annoying alternative reality, the real one this time.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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