As a people, we don’t want to experience the massive dissonance around us. We believe or want to believe some of the spin -- but the reality around us shows through. We want things to be back like they were in the good-old-days we think we remember. The result is too often denial, denial of reality that is right in front of us. The prevalence of illusion and spin-as-truth makes this possible. We just live with the dissonances and pretend they are not there. We take refuge in an ungrounded framework of illusion where things are more like we would like them to be.
The climates of Illusion, Dissonance and Denial bring us conspiracy theories and counter-theories. And, it brings us radio talk show hosts who construct virtual-reality worlds of agreement with their listeners, the facts be damned. And, of course, there is denial of corruption. If you are Vice President of a large corporation or even of the US, you can simply deny the existence of corruption, no matter how evident the facts are. In our world of media illusion and spin, the truth assumes the ghost-like character of being just another advocacy argument. Lies go ignored, or are even expected.
Our personal experience becomes worthless in the climate of spin and denial: “Yes, I have lost 50% of my wealth in the stock market. “Yes, I have to pay $2.20 for a gallon of gasoline for my SUV. Yes, my heating oil bill is going up 30% this winter. Yes, my new job pays 30% less and has no health benefits. Yes, the big corporation that purchased the company where I work plans to outsource all work to India. Our factory will close. Yes, I cannot afford the $1,000 a month health insurance would cost for my family, so I don’t have any and hope nobody will get sick. Yes, the big energy company I used to work for went bankrupt and my pension vanished. Yes, my monthly payments on the SUV and my Harley are killing me. Yes, I can’t afford my heart medication. But I am not worrying because economic conditions are great and getting better. The President and Alan Greenspan have said that, and they know a lot more than I do.”
In the absence of trusting our own experience, we are simply media-programmed. For many of us, it is impossible to even imagine a world in which the personal and political could come together, which of course they profoundly do. Some of those with the most powerful spin voices want to keep it that way.
And with denial comes fragmentation into cultural islands of polarized populations, groups that look only inward for their truths, often born of illusion and as defense against dissonance. We have groups that picket against each other and sometimes their members shoot members of opposing groups, like those that resist or advocate abortion. Some of our groups are so righteous that dialog across them becomes impossible. We seem to be back in the middle ages again today, but without the comforting protection of local isolation that existed then. And instead of clubs and spears we have assault weapons, home-made bombs and the possibility of biological and chemical weapons to use in attacking each other.
My images show forms and facets of denial, including refuge in patriotism and the flag again, partying, ghost images, masks and skulls, and the positionings of our leaders.