... all us superstars are the makers of our own realities, and tricks may be played upon us whenever we forget.
Playing with the push-pull controls of an audio recording console is fun, particularly if the results of your pushs and pulls are expressed, throughthousands of silicon transistor diodes and hundred-pound power amplifiers and quarter-inch round copper cables and overwhelming, towering loudspeakers, as a sound which is as big and as real as life — which is maybe bigger and more real than life. You push the fader just a little bit; your life changes a whole lot.
That's been "home" for me for a lifetime. Nudging the faders up maybe an eighth of an inch — no more — and being blasted by a wave of energy which first swirls through and around my head, as though for approval, and then around the heads of the others in the room and then out of the farmhouse on wires and on fiber-optic cables and up into the air by which we're all surrounded — all of us listening to the music, and listening to the words, and coming to comprehend in this manner the world in which we live. Our "real world" is a construct out of such media presentations — those thrown at us not just by recording engineers, but by our teachers, our political leaders, our radio and TV stations, our press agents, and our computers plugged into the Internet. Taken together, they tell us what we are to think about things. There's very little "thinking for yourself" within the wired global village.
I have been concerned, as I think any careful person ought to be, to understand just how such pushings and pullings of media throttles can so powerfully alter and condition the world in which we find ourselves. I have it about half figured out, and have a few ideas I can pass along. After all, I have seen some things. I've also read a bit of Marshall McLuhan. I named a horse after him.
Best for you to start with a review of my association with rock 'n' roll superstars, and with the notion of"celebrity" in which I found my first clues. I didn't set out to spend my time this way, but there came a time when newspaper reporters started asking me if I thought people like George Harrison and Mick Jagger were living gods. I said that they weren't. But in my heart I was less certain about their projected media images. "They may be," I would think to myself, off-line.
In the end, having come to know a fair number of these luminaries, I did indeed find myself assigning demi-god status to their projected media images, even if not to the superstars themselves, who turn out to be just as ordinary and every-day as you and me. As for the projected media images, they are of course our own creations. We make these demi-god creatures, given only the slightest hints and deliberately faint blueprints from the publicists on the case. We're happy do this, on our own, simply to have these demi-gods "around" — in our back yards, in our bedrooms, and on the CD players in our automobiles. We love heros, and myth, every bit as much as the Greeks did three hundred years before the birth of Christ.
We also love ourselves. We make our own personal lives and careers in a like manner — savvy media practitioners that we are — teasing and inflating them into forms and postures limited only by our imaginations, and by our skills as communicators. We are each and every one of us ship captains — this being the first bit of wisdom to be won from even a casual study of celebrities, and their press agents.
My reasons for assigning possible demi-god status to the projected images of superstars, and by extension to our own projections in cyberspace, are inferable from the essays collected here. The essays appear in somewhat random order, and are selectable using computer hyperlinks which are colored blue the first time you click on them, and red thereafter. That should help you some, since there's no table of contents.
Don't stop until you've read something about the Rolling Stones. I called that episode in my life Tattoo Me. See how lives are laid waste when people can't tell the difference between a humble, human superstar and its demi-god monster-mermaid image, and assume that the latter — the crafted image — is the "real thing."
The Virtual Reality essays were written ten years after the Rolling Stones had come and gone. These essays have a lot to do themselves with the notion of demi-gods — with the angels we choose to create for ourselves — and are in that sense just as important as the essays having to do with Mick Jagger and his friends. They urge upon us the conclusion that we may one day be in absolute control of what's real for people, and what's not. A publicist's dream.
The reprints from the newspapers and the slick city journals show you how it's done, even today — how you can push and pull on media control surfaces and in so doing define what's real, even worship-worthy, and almost always out of reach. Slick journalism that is, and I'm all for it.
The other assorted life stories and anecdotes recounted here are all woven out of the same thematic bolt of cloth; namely, that all us superstars are the makers of our own realities, and that tricks may be played upon us whenever we forget. Tricks like, Supper's ready.
All original material copyright © Gilbert Scott Markle. All rights reserved.