ENGA10 LECTURE 02.docx

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ENGA10 LECTURE 02 9/21/2011 6:05:00 AM
IDEOLOGY
SELF “REALITY” OTHER - VAMPIRIC
THE REAL
FOUR ARCHITECTS OF MYTHS OF MODERNITY
Karl Marx: behind social appearances is something something
capitalism?
Charles Darwin: theory of evolution
o The popular anxiety of evolution was: if we are evolving
forward, what’s going to stop us from evolving backwards?
Sigmund Freud: behind consciousness is unconsciousness
Nietzche: behind morality is an excuse for priviledge
o Suggest there’s something behind appearances
Beauty is not a trait for survival in the literal sense, but may be so
in a cultural sense
We are addicted to reality shows because they all have a sense of
transcendental certitude (one thing has to happen in all of these
shows: people have to get voted off; this mimics the 21st century: if
you don’t adapt you get voted off)
o All of their worth is based on whether or not they win
MYTHS OF MODERNITY
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Myth of Progress (“Loss of Transcendental Certitude”)
Back in the day, if ME and YOU were talking, we would acknowledge
that we were connected that way, but also that we were connected
by a form of transcendental certitude (soul + soul = spark of TC
fire….)
20th century equivalent of praying: Googling (don’t know where you
are? Google it. Only difference: Google doesn’t require faith)
Problem: prayer is for guidance; Google is when you know what
you want
We are already told who we’re supposed to be (through advertising;
Secret is made for a man vs Brute for a man)
The word “you” is used repeatedly; ads are always calling to you
Why? There is a modern sense of lack: from the moments after
birth, we are hit with a standard for everyone/everything else (the
Apgard test)
Arnold (“Dover Beach”): armies clashing blah blah dark: reference
to evolution, “survival of the fittest”
Dorian Gray has this trait of beauty
In a way, Dorian Gray is a contestant in a reality show, and Lord
Wotton is the MC telling him he needs to win and he won’t have his
beauty forever
Lord Henry and Basil are essentially father figures, and they both
fail him
Basil Hallward is a traditionalist looking backwards, Lord Henry is a
materialist looking forward
Basil thinks of Dorian as an ideal; he is perfection
Myth of Perfection
The 20th and 21st century promises you that if you consume
properly you will obtain perfection, but, by definition, is
unattainable
Why? It is a myth of deferral; allow us to believe in redemption
(you’re not there yet, but you’ll get there one day)
There’s no transcendent being to judge us anymore (in the 21st
century)
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We are fascinated by artificial constructions of judging
GPA mimics transcendental certitude: you don’t know who you are,
but your GPA does (lose sleep over a number)
It’s not the number but what it signifies; deals with the lack that we
all feel
The two parental figures who are supposed to guide Dorian fail him
because they are pursuing their own perfection
Dorian spends most of his childhood in the playroom because his
grandfather cannot stand the look of him; looks too much like his
mother, reminds his grandfather of his sins
Dorian’s childhood: a father dead of mysterious circumstances, a
mother dead soon after of grief, a grandfather who hates the sight
of him, and banishment to a playroom
o No wonder he wants to be looked at; given the way he was
raised, no one who loved him made him feel worthwhile
o This is why his sense of self worth is completely external
The key to the 20th and 21st century is the move of intrinsic work to
the pursuit of extrinsic work (we become worth what other people
think we’re worth)
When Dorian Gray becomes beautiful he becomes a kind of Dracula
The more we learned about the universe, the less important we
seemed
Art changed, became much more expressionistic
o Old thoughts: “The purpose of art is to reflect life.”
o 20th/21st century: “Life mimics art.”
o We don’t know who we are, we look at the art then we
rearrange ourselves: Dorian Gray doesn’t see himself until
Basil paints him
o When Basil is at his best, he will not show his painting
because he’s an 18th century painter and terrified of the new
rules; art is an expression of yourself
We moved from worth to price; what you pay is not what it’s worth
o Lord Henry: “Nowadays we know the price of everything and
the value of nothing.”
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