It’s funny how being immersed in something can really change your perspective.
Everyone is subjective to some degree, yet there are a few who possess the objectivity to see things for how they really are. Every age fancies itself unique, better in some way than all the others. Today we enjoy a better quality of living than we ever have before. Even our poverty lives better than some the kings and queens not so long ago. But are we really all that different? Are we really living the high life?
The Emperor’s great folly.
Everyone remembers the story of the foolish Emperor and his imaginary clothes. His reputation was well renowned — even beyond the borders of his own empire — including his weaknesses, which were those of pride, flattery and ignorance. This just so happened to be what attracted a troupe of clever tailors one day to His Excellency’s (the Emperor’s) court. They quickly exploited these weaknesses, boasting of how they were such skilled tailors, they could stitch together robes of the finest silks that only the truly refined could detect by sight and touch. His Excellency, intrigued by this notion, slowly bought into their lies. And the more they elaborated, the more convincing, and compelling their story became. Finally, they convinced His Excellency to employ them, and so began their arc of deceit.
After many months, the tailors delayed, reaping in great sums of of gold in salary, not yielding any goods, but not leaving His Excellency empty-handed — so to speak — either. Every month they were summoned to his chambers as he demanded news of their progress. Every time, they invented new details as to just how much they had accomplished, and of the obstacles they had encountered along the way. The Emperor’s figure was unique, for he had the shoulders of Atlas, the arms of Heracles, the calves of Hermes, and the thighs of a Caesar, and they had never had the pleasure of taking such measurements. But that, of course, required making a lot of complex adjustments. This silk was very difficult to work with, after all — but not impossible. Every now and then they would return to His Excellency, taking further measurements, just to insure they were getting the perfect fit.
Eight months later, as the Emperor summoned them one last time, they anticipated the envoy, and met him with great excitement. They leapt at the messenger and hugged and kissed him! Great smiles beaming from their faces as they pulled his hands and, in a turn of events, escorted him to His Excellency’s chambers! It was ready. Finally, it was ready.
“But where is it?” asked the Emperor. “It’s right here!” claimed the troupe. “Perhaps you need your spectacles. Come, boy!” one them clapped at one of the Emperor’s servants. “Bring His Excellency his spectacles! Here now, let me have your arms, and give this fellow one of your legs.” The whole scene was absurd as the tailors proceeded to undress the Emperor and shroud him in illusion. “See, now how does that feel? Not too tight around the shoulders, now is it?” The Emperor confided that it did feel a little loose. “Well, you’ve lost a little weight since our last measurements,” they assured him. “You’ll grow into it.” And right they were, for as this facade went on, the illusion only became more real to the Emperor as he grew more comfortable with living out this fantasy. He became so comfortable in fact, he decided to extend their employment and commissioned them to stitch him an entire wardrobe of this new thread.
And then one day he decided to announce that he would don this new apparel during his kingdom’s bicentennial parade. Upon hearing news of this, his nobles tried to advise against it, but couldn’t contrive a convincing argument that wouldn’t contradict the Emperor’s fantasy. He was surely mad, but none could call him out on it, lest they surrender their land and servants. And so, he proceeded to parade around his kingdom before all his subjects, naked and delusional. None dared call out the Emperor for the fool that he was, for fear of reprimand — and for a peasant those days, that meant death.
Until, that is, one boy — young, naive, and sincere as all children are up to an age — dared call out the madness for what it was. High upon his father’s shoulders, he began asking his father why the Emperor looked so funny. From a distance he couldn’t tell, but then he soon realised that His Excellency was completely naked. “Daddy, where are his clothes?” His father, embarrassed, took him down and immediately chided him for his cheek. But in all the perplexity of it, he felt compelled to ask everyone around him why they were acting so insane. It boggled him to hear the compliments being shouted out to him: Cheers of flattery and praising rhetoric, for the detail of this elaborate costume that was surely a figment of everyone’s imagination. He ran out into the street and cried out, “But he’s nake….” His cries were quickly muffled as he was pulled back into the crowd.
This disturbance caught the Emperor’s attention, however, and he asked his guards what all the commotion was about. But they couldn’t give an answer so, annoyed, he commanded his parade to a halt and demanded the disruptor step forward. Bold and unabashed, the boy stood before him and, just as he was about to explain, was again muffled; this time by the hands of the guard who escorted him up there. But the Emperor demanded the man let the boy speak, and the truth finally came out.
From there the boy was arrested and taken to the palace, where he was privately executed, but not before meeting with the Emperor one last time, where he thanked the boy for finally releasing him of the heavy burden of this illusion. It was said that the tailors were also executed for their treacherous deceit. But there are some who say that the Emperor found another punishment for them, equally as harsh, as his servant ministers of Illusion. He would consult with them only during times when his people were discontent with him. Meanwhile, they spent the remainder of their days suspended by chains, only to be let down during feeding time. A strict diet of putrid meat and moldy bread — crawling with maggots — was all that they were prescribed, for the filthy spiders that they were.
How this applies to today.
Now, I recount this story for a reason. We all know that reality is perception. Yet for the Emperor, deception was reality. I am here to suggest that we live in an age where we are all as privileged as the Emperor. And equally delusional. The Western World is a collection of Empires, and each one of us plays the role of The Emperor in our own little way. Only, the story that I just told you plays out in reverse. And instead of our rulers living out an illusion, it is we, the subjects, who have acquiesced to this ruse.
A scheme designed by the Emperor’s council, commissioned by the Emperor’s orders, and woven by the Emperor’s tailors.
In reality, we have actors and models who don these illusions — instead of the Emperor. They adorn the covers of every magazine, television, and silver screen. And instead of calling out these illusions for what they are, we seek out their warehouses— we call these “retail stores” — and don them ourselves.
Growing up in a world of illusion, we’ve been playing make-believe since Year One.
Barbie and Mickey, Barney the Power Rangers, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon gave us our first glimpse into these imaginary realms. Now we dedicate our lives to the pursuit of a faerytale. And now that faerytale envelopes every facet of our very way of life.
I shouldn’t have to be the one to point out the obvious, but I think I do.
Life is becoming increasingly more artificial. Day by day, we are substituting imitation for the real thing.
Everything is digital now.
From currency to our relationships, it’s all electronic; even our sentiments. We don’t feel much anymore until we get that cue to feel. Is it any surprise that in the real world, our personal relationships simply don’t work out?
Or it’s plastic or cardboard or fiberglass?
Ikea and Walmart, Target and Bed Bath and Beyond have sold us such edifices; delivering us not the products, but the ideas of those products, the resemblance of what they should be.
Even our food isn’t real.
When we were young, we used to play with plastic food and pretend to eat it and feed it to our dolls. But we always knew better than to eat it — well, some of us did. But now we actually are eating it, and calling it nutrition. Have you seen those photos circulating on the web lately? You know, of the fast food from the four different restaurants two years later? You should if you haven’t already; it’s a real eye-opener. I actually have a friend who is running a similar experiment in her Herbalife location.
And it’s come to the point where many are convinced we are beating our caretakers to the job by embalming ourselves with all of the preservatives we put in our bodies.
And as for our clothes….
We may not actually be naked, but with garments as paper-thin as hospital gowns — something we pay full price for unless it’s on clearance — we might as well be!
Now some would argue that….
This isn’t a ruse at all. That it’s the symptom of over-population, and the growing scarcity of resources. And to that, I say bollocks! How could a country with so much land and natural resources be running out? It can’t. It’s called designed obsolescence, and it’s a scheme that we’ve been going along with ever since the 1950s. A scheme that was contrived to develop more consumers to jumpstart our economy. Over time, this system evolved to develop artificial scarcities, to drive up their profits even further. But none of it was ever meant to become a permanent part of the system —merely an interim — or so we had hoped.
Yet here we are, trapped in our own design.
A tanked economy, and soon we will all be declared obsolete. And then, I have to wonder if this wasn’t the plan all along? Because these illusions that we’ve bought into all our lives, they’re just ideas, after all. And ideas are contagious, and prone to take over the lives of their hosts. Like every philosophy, every religion, every ideology ever devised, people will dedicate their lives to them. Even die for them.
And that’s where we are right now.
We are dying, and the World’s dying with us. And until we can snap out of this state of delirium, we may never awaken to the nightmare our World has really become. Even then, it may already be too late.
On a final note.
I must confess, I am deeply sorry for ending this blog on such a somber note. It’s alright; none of this is necessarily true. It’s just something I developed as I was organising my thoughts. I don’t even know what I’m going to write until I write it —isn’t that funny? Ha-hah? Everything’s actually going to be alright — probably?
Peace be with you, my readers. Now, and always.
P.s.: that photo I was talking about earlier, it looks like this http://cdn.blisstree.com/files/2012/04/two-year-old-fast-food-640×360.jpg