What makes reality real?

I have not watched the new TV show Awake on NBC. I understand the story is about a police detective who “woke” up from a car accident and realized that he’s caught in two realities, or two dreams, or rather one reality + one dream. In one half of his life, his son died, whereas in the other half of his life, his wife. In order to keep both of his loved ones “alive”, he decided to keep living this dual existence, ignoring the clues threatening to expose one half as “fake”.

I am scared to watch it…

I’ve had realistic, vivid nightmares in which I kept on telling myself, “No, it could not be. This has got to be a dream. Wake up! Wake up!” but I could not wake up. Fear would quickly settle in as I realized (erroneously) that this was not a dream. I would cry out from the pang of despair, with real tears, in from my dream. Often the warm tears would startle me and I would wake up, completely disoriented. “It is a dream after all.” My relief however would soon be overtaken by fear, fear that maybe next time, I would not be so lucky. Next time, I would not have anything to wake up to.

On the other hand, I have never had a dream so enticing that I do not want to leave it. (Probably a sign for lack of imagination?) Yet, on some days, when I am wishing for a do-over, I felt I could somehow understand why “the wife” in the movie Inception felt that way about the limbo she was in. (I will stop here lest this becomes a spoiler… even though I assume everybody that wants to see the movie has done so already…)

Remember Cypher (played by Joe Pantoliano) in The Matrix? He basically said “Fuck this. Put me back in the dream because reality sucks!”

If a dreamscape is so real that you cannot tell, what makes it any less real?

 

You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. — Morpheus in The Matrix

 

“Which pill would you take: red or blue?” I get a headache whenever I think about this.

 

You would laugh if I tell you what started this whole debate inside my head. It was the song Video Games by Lana Del Rey playing in the car on our way home after watching The Hunger Games. Now, a digression…

I am one of those empathetic people that cannot help imagining myself in the protagonist’s place when watching a film — That explains why I cannot watch horror movies — therefore I watched The Hunger Games with heightened alarm. The games would be a nightmare I do not want to be caught dead (or alive or sleeping) in. I KNOW, if I were there, I would be the first one to die. And that thought alone makes me want to hide a piece of cyanid in my tooth cavity. (I never claim to be brave so there).

Ok. I am back on track. (According to The Husband, this IS how I talk in real life…) When I heard Lana Del Rey’s voice, I remembered the big brouhaha over her flop on SNL. There was so much hype around her first ever TV/public appearance, on SNL nonetheless, people were shocked (or perhaps even outraged?) to find the Internet sensation could not deliver the promise in a live performance. It appeared that she could not sing nor did she know what to do with her hands. I cringed for the first few minutes and had to turn it off. It was painful to watch. I will admit: I liked her musical videos. I liked her voice in the videos. I still do. The videos were expertly produced, looking and sounding fantastic. The out-of-proportion backlash against her on the Internet (The Internet giveth, the Internet taketh) following her SNL appearance made me wonder out loud:

So what if the persona Lana Del Rey is fabricated? You liked her when you thought she was real, what changed now that you know her daddy is rich and her lips may have been undergone some cosmetic surgery, and that her voice may have been digitally enhanced during production? What if she had simply stayed a virtual Internet sensation a la the Japanese virtual pop star Hatsune Miku: a synthesized presence that, understood by all partaking in it to be “artificial”, yet fulfills something the audience yearns for that is not achievable in real life.

 

Here is Hatsune Miku in all her digital bits performing live to thousands of screaming fans. She is so real that she stars in commercials for Google Chrome in Japan, and of course, for Toyota.

Article by Absence Alternatives

Absence has written 723 articles.
If you like This post, you can follow Lin On Twitter
Subscribe to absence Blog feed via RSS or EMAIL to receive instant updates.
{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Jack@TheJackB March 25, 2012, 5:43 pm

    I have dreams like that upon occasion. Sometimes I wake up and wonder where I am and who I am with.
    Jack@TheJackB´s last blog post…Coffee With Stephen King

  • Caro Webster March 25, 2012, 11:32 pm

    Lin,
    Have you ever seen “Jacob’s Ladder”? Now there’s a film that twists and plays with the concept of reality. It scared me shitless. xx

    • Absence Alternatives March 26, 2012, 4:02 am

      Thank you for letting me know. But should I watch it? I still can’t get Donny Darko out of my head. *shudder*

      • dufmanno March 26, 2012, 12:27 pm

        Definately watch Jabob’s Ladder. An Adriane Lyne masterpiece (even if I can’t be bothered to look up how to properly spell his name)
        Also, if we were in the GAmes together you would never die. I’m a crack shot and I run REALLY fast.
        AND last but not least, let’s talk about how delicious Lawrence Fishburn is in that movie.
        dufmanno´s last blog post…Loved the Book, Definately Going To See The Movie

  • Mary Lee March 26, 2012, 4:41 pm

    I do the very same thing. I suffer every frame, right in their shoes. Best for me to stick with comedies.
    Mary Lee´s last blog post…Packing It In?

    • Absence Alternatives March 28, 2012, 9:04 am

      I also cry easily. And once I start, I can’t stop. It’s very embarrassing when it’s in the movie theater, ESP. If I don’t have any tissue!

  • Kristy March 27, 2012, 8:34 pm

    The Matrix is one of my all time favorite movies, and at the heart of my love for it is this question of What Is Real? To this day I am not sure which pill I would take. There are some days where it certainly seems ignorance IS bliss, I’ll tell you that! 🙂
    Kristy´s last blog post…Messy in the Middle

  • BigLittleWolf March 29, 2012, 9:25 am

    This one gave me a good chuckle, and a pause… I tend to like movies/series that play with our belief in reality, not to mention, postulate that dream is reality and vice versa. Then again, maybe it’s because there are so many times that (sur)reality seems sucky… until it isn’t, and then awake seems fine.

    And who knows what else the human mind has created that we cling to so fervently (and war over as Reality)?

    Yep. Headache. At least, if we contemplate it all too much.
    BigLittleWolf´s last blog post…Trophies and Proofs

    • Absence Alternatives March 31, 2012, 5:29 pm

      I saw a quote attributed to Mark Twain today that I found to be most accurate: “Education is the path from cocky ignorance to miserable uncertainty.” Kind of describes what’s going on here…

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge