60 Years of Mimicking Mimicked Emotions
I have been debating my friend Ron Richo for more than four decades. Here is his comment about my post, Avert-your-face-book: Zuckerberg's Empty Trojan Horse. It raises the question:
Do our children IMITATE emotions they see IMITATED in the media, rather than experience those actual emotions first-hand, from the inside out?
Do they mimic emotions, from the outside in?
Are they trying to use Stanislavsky Method of Acting on life, rather than on stage, with the huge obstacle that they have no emotional bank account from which to draw emotions in the first place?
To put it another way: Television, and video have brought a tinsel version of Aristotle's "pity and fear" catharsis into every living-room in America. Have we purged ALL our emotions so often that we need to IMITATE EMOTIONS in order to feel anything at all?
Or is it that we are in the third generation of children so unweaned from the milk of television and film, that they don't know what actual milk really is when they taste it?
Is self-discovery impossible if there is no self, just an imitation of self?
After witnessing the murder of four college students in 1970, I experienced "free-floating anxiety,"which years later was given the name PTSD.
When I entered therapy, the FIRST question the therapist asked me was,
"When was the last time you felt frightened?"
I answered: "I have never felt frightened."
Definition of an Empty Self?
Ours may become a country not with a Commie under every bed, but with a therapist under every head.
From Ron Richo:
"I can't go into great detail right now as I have to leave the house in half an hour but I will write more about it later. (I like that quote* from Melville... from the greatest novel ever written by the way). I think you're on the right track with that line of thinking.
I think most people have been deeply changed as beings by the thought-and-emotion- dictating of media. (Very similar to religion, don't you think?) I know I have because film has always been so important in my life.
Ironic to quote a pop song in talking about this but it capsulizes what I am talking about.
The lines are:
Adrift on an ocean of loneliness
my dreams likes nets were thrown
to catch the love that I'd heard of
in books and films and songs
Now there's a world of illusion and fantasy
in the place where the real world belongs.
[Farther On by Jackson Browne]
I think this (and religion) are why people are so disappointed and unhappy. My opinion of course."
" From beneath his slouched hat Ahab dropped a tear into the sea; '... Close! stand close to me, Starbuck; let me look into a human eye; it is better than to gaze into sea or sky . . .' "
Moby-Dick, Chapter 132
Good work on that piece. The whole idea is an interesting one certainly.
When I think of media that has real impact on us emotionally I think of films, TV, music (pop music especially) and to a lesser extent, books (not that books don't effect us emotionally. They do but in a much different way and books require some work on our part.)
I can't help but wonder how the emotional life of a person living say in the late 19th century might have differed from ours.
I don't, by the way, see this in a purely negative light of course. Some good can come of it as well. I, for example, learned a lot from the role models of my youth. So much of what I am today I owe to Claude Rains. How to speak, how to dress, to use a knife and fork and so on. Claude and Rex Harrison, Ronald Coleman (my namesake) and so many others were excellent teachers and role models.
Better than Freddie Kruegger anyway.