THE IMAGE – pseudo-events

As my writing on ‘meaning’ of the canal has progressed, I’ve increasingly thought about the malleability of meaning and the challenges of seeing fact through fiction.

I today revisited Daniel Boorstin’s 1961 book, The Image | a guide to pseudo-events in America . It struck me that despite the age of the book, its ideas are perhaps even more relevant today than they were 60 years ago. Boorstin refers to the ‘graphic revolution’ – capacity to mass produce images in the media and through film as the enabler of his pseudo-events. Today the effect has been amplified through the rapid and vast exchange of digital images.

Central to Boorstin’s idea is ‘a thicket of unreality which stands between us and the facts of life’, created through illusions of imagery that people are willing to accept / not question because of extravagant or excessive expectations of the world. This idea is explored at length through various environments, for example the news, celebrity, tourism.

There are some interesting ideas and eloquent descriptions of so called, pseudo-events and their effects that are relevant to the reading of publicity materials about the canal. There are also photographic specific references, that are of broader interest. I’ve noted these in my research folder and will consider reflecting them in my dissertation.

… the menace of unreality … of replacing ideas by the images … aspiration by the mold. We risk being the first people in history to have been able to make their illusions so vivid, so persuasive, so “realistic” that they can live in them.