I am yet again reminded of Milan Kundera's Immortality, in which is found the idea that imagology has defeated ideology and now rules the world. Imagology means that appearance is more important than the reality of that appearance, but more than that, it means that image has become so valued that people don't particularly care that it's constructed, which is why, for instance, you can watch TV and hear about the images that political candidates are trying to project without the candidates being wholly discredited in the process. Imagology has become powerful, because we live largely disconnected from our world and do not experience it first-hand.I said...
Imageology is a natural result of the service-oriented economy. It is no longer important how things happen. The world has become the ultimate magical hat, with the only requisite being the statement of “makes me a X". Everything is made somewhere else. All you need is the money to make it appear. The service of others makes the objects appear. All that is left is the image. We are divorce from the resources and labor required to produce the reality. The image is all we have.
The assumption of the image's reality extends to our communication. There is the classic Saturday morning short cartoon of the kid asking the Genie, "Make me a banana split". "Poof" the Genie says, "You're a banana split". The Genie promises results without effort. The outcome is that the kid becomes the result. This is what has happened to our cultural environment. The image is more important than the substance. The creation of the substance is no longer important. The reality of the creation is not of consequence. The important thing is for things to exist now. The Genie complies, with the unintended affect being that we become what we ask for. We become what we say instead of what we truly are.
The reality of politics has become that of image. It is incredibly expensive to run for public office now. The goal of the pricey campaign is to create a lake that is a mile wide and an inch deep. The goal is the image of the political lake, in all it's sound bites, rhetoric, and half-truths. The money provides an image of a vast lake. Shallow bodies of water are polluted easily. The political war chest also provides the means of tainting the shallow lakes of political foes. The fragileness of these campaigning constructs is attested to when mere images of "liberal" or "conservative" can blacken an opponent's lake. There are no winners at the end of the bitter campaign as all of the very expensive, but inconsequential images, are poisoned. Who can win? Perhaps the single victorious politician wins. The public certainly does not.