Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Who Rules

I’m an image junkie - I don’t deny this. With years of conviction behind me and a spiritual sticking point that usually fends off most of the blatant blows, it still happens that sneaky voices and enticing images slither in and make themselves at home. It usually happens unnoticed and I’d say they most often come in disguise, brought to me by the talent and cunning of the image weavers. There have been magic moments too, the kind where a window into something incredible is played out in a way that seems meant just for me. I know... we think we are self-directed, thoughtful people, independent and astute, but we’re not. I hate to be the one to break the news, but we are weak-willed and gullible in the hands of the creative. Storytellers rule the culture.

Something happened last night while we watched the imperceptible blending of images or as we bathed in the words and rhythms. We were drawn into a story, as we often are, sitting in the dark, holding hands with the remote, mesmerized by the lives of the characters we cozy up to. Their behavior “became” us, maybe repulsed us, maybe intrigued or attacked us. Maybe it humored or even inspired us. Their language spoke to a place in there that always seems to be crying out to be spoken to. What was said echoes in our heads still today. Which place did it speak to this time? Did we hear what we needed, or was it simply like a salty snack and a can of coke, something that hit the spot of the moment?

We turn it off, we turn it on, it’s neither here nor there really. It’s just a show, just a movie, just advertisement, just diversion of course. But it isn’t just a show or a movie or an advertisement... of course. Someone tweaked and planned, spent fantastic sums of money, consulted and rehearsed to create flatscreen images that would be reborn 3-D in our lives, whether with one well-placed line, or episode by episode solidifying a premise, and sometimes culminating years down the road, a testament to patient, painstaking effort. Someone’s on the other side hoping their voice will be remade inside of us tomorrow. And it WAS remade the minute we ourselves, our hands-on selves, began repeating the lines, the moment we did or maybe even didn’t realize that we were conveying a tone of voice invoked by the spin of “the creative”, or when we retold that joke or adopted a mannerism or a way of thinking, or when we allowed what we've spectated to become a personal reality that we now play out with our own voices, what we now consider to be our “personal” thoughts. It all became 3-D after all, at our own hands.

Seems some of the fantasy stays behind. Some of it’s been staying behind since the first time we lay on a Saturday morning floor as close to the box as we could get to watch Looney Tunes. That’s a lot of time, a lot of influence. The sway of the music and tones of voice, classic lines and attitudes about the world and our place in it - what to accept, what to reject, who to love and hate; it has “become” us, in essence made us, formed us, and it shows up even imperceptibly and unnoticed. And we are the ones who give it permission. Someone we don’t even know has decided more than we’d care to give them credit for. Someone has colored many of our thoughts in shades we’d probably rather not have allowed onto our color palate had we really given it any thought. Often even carelessly, and with a strong desire to be entertained, we meld and transform under the guiding hand - of whom? Who are these “guides” we’ve given our hearts permission to follow?

I know how moving images can be. At any given moment you can find me nearly obsessed and completely absorbed in them, ignoring food, people and the the common sense of the hour hand. I know from the “other side” how images incite deep heart change because I am an image weaver myself. Can’t fool me about it; I’m in on the whole thing. Words and pictures carefully placed to sway to the sounds and the mood will mesmerize us into a deliberate thought or feeling, even move us to action - sometimes nurturing, sometimes suffocating both our character and our future - and always challenging who we would become. In the moment, aroused by feeling, incited by image, we will move. One way or another, chances are we won’t sit still. Which way we move depends on which voice and which image we grant an ear and an eye to. Which way today?

“Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them...

...Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the Lord swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.” Deuteronomy 11:16-21

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