The Image and The Actual
Each letter of the alphabet represents a phoneme, a tiny sound that joins with other tiny sounds to make the more complex sounds we call words.
Words are mere shadows cast by ideas. But the ideas they represent are real.
Numerals are images of amounts. But the amounts they represent are real.
You see a person when you look in the mirror that no one sees but you. Other people see a person when they look at you, but you're not that person, either.
Dulcinea was the image of feminine perfection in the mind of Don Quixote. In reality, she was a common, earthy village girl with nothing special about her.
“I think the idealization of women is indigenous to men. There are various ways of idealizing women, especially sexually, based in almost every case on their inaccessibility. When a woman functions as an unobtainable love object, then she takes on a mythical quality. You can see this principle functioning as a sales device in advertising and in places like Playboy magazine. Almost every movie you see has this quality, because you can't embrace the image on the screen. Thousands of novels use this principle, because you can't embrace a printed image on a page.” – James Dickey, Self Interviews, p. 153
Bible illustrator Barry Moser says, “I think when people have illustrated the Bible, most of them have been devout Christians. Because they're devout Christians they can't separate themselves from the work. They get mired in piety, so they can't see the darkness. They only see the light of salvation. But if you don't have the darkness to contrast with the light, then what are you offering but cotton candy for Sunday school children?”
Moser goes on to say, “The truth I see is that the Bible is populated with people like you and me. People who are flawed and imperfect. People who have crooked teeth and bad skin. Who have stinky breath and dirty feet. Who don't always know the difference between right and wrong. Who are self-serving and capricious. People caught in the conflict and dichotomy between good and evil, between the sacred and the profane, between beauty and ugliness, and between the bright and the moronic. People who hope – and many believe – that they are made in the very image of God.”
Do we tend to believe in a god whose attitude reflects our own? In her book Bird by Bird Anne Lamott speaks of a friend named Tom who said, “You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
By the way, a single copy of the deluxe edition of the Bible illustrated by Barry Moser sells for about $30,000. Want to take a look at it?
In 1971, Marshall McLuhan spoke about the gap between image and reality in politics. “Politics will eventually be replaced by imagery. The politician will be only too happy to abdicate in favor of his image because the image will be much more powerful than he could ever be.”
Whether it's women… or politicians… or God… we tend to believe in images that aren't entirely accurate.
But McLuhan wasn't the first to note the fact that we Americans tend to vote for a romanticized reflection of ourselves. H. L. Mencken, writing for the Baltimore Evening Sun on July 26, 1920: “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
H.L. Mencken, a journalist, wrote those words 85 years and 11 months ago.
Human beings are creators, flinging powerful images into the minds of their fellow men. And all of these images are built of tiny particles of thought.
Knowing how to sculpt vivid mental images from particles of thought is a very powerful thing. In reality, it's the basis of every form of art, including sculpture, photography, architecture, speechwriting, advertising, poetry, website design and all the visual arts, including filmmaking.
Wizard Academy is a school of these communication arts. Advanced Thought Particles is a new class at Wizard Academy, the long-awaited sequel to the Magical Worlds Communications Workshop. Check it out at WizardAcademy.org.
Roy H. Williams
PS – Like Bible Illustrator Barry Moser, filmmaker Stewart Redwine is working to make the stories of scripture more relevant to modern times. You can view one of Stewart's modern parables in the Freebies section at WizardAcademyPress.com