Sunday, June 01, 2008

Nothing Up My Sleeve


Do you remember an old television show with Bill Bixby called "The Magician"? He played a crime fighting entertainer who used illusion to unmask the criminal or in self defense. Not a great show. However, each episode had the disclaimer: "All illusions performed here are done without special effects or deceptive camera work".

Our technology has become so sophisticated that it has reached the point where at times it can threaten our ability to suspend disbelief. Consider this: if you saw a video of a flying saucer, one where it looked amazingly real, wouldn't you just assume you were watching something put together by George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic (the special effects company that worked on Star Wars?)? If you gave me photographic evidence that Jon Zech was in fact Stewart Sternberg, wouldn't you just assume it was the work of someone talented with Photoshop? I mean, if you didn't know me better, you would think that the picture of me at the "last supper" was doctored.

In an age where anything and everything is possible, where long dead actors can be convincingly dropped into new video digitally, where skillful manipulation of audio can effectively put sentences into someone's mouth, where genetic manipulation of material can call into question DNA evidence.....who can believe anything they see, hear, touch, or smell?

For writers of science fiction and fantasy, such paranoia is a rich treasure trove in which to dip our literary hands. For readers, the connection between storyteller and audience retains its integrity. At a time when no one can be believed, the one who offers up fiction is perhaps the only one to be trusted.

10 comments:

Lana Gramlich said...

The Last Supper there is doctored? ;)

Charles Gramlich said...

You've hit on a truth here. The writers of fiction are the ones to be believed. We know we can't believe the nonfiction being published these days.

Stewart Sternberg said...

I know Lara...hard to believe. I couldn't be at the Last Supper that night, I had to attend a bar mitzvah for a Phoenician named Saul over in Jerusalem. It was a catered affair. They had a Roman band, "Bread and Roses", but the lead singer kept walking off stage in a hissy fit.

Agreed Charles. Skepticism is a healthy quality to have.

Travis said...

Oddly enough, some continue to take at face value the things they read without even a thought toward documenting whether or not the things are true.

I guess some have decided that the suspension of their own innate skeptic makes the world an easier place in which to exist.

Sidney said...

Great picture!

HEALTH NUT WANNABEE MOM said...

I agree completely! I love my fiction books-they are my release and it is nice to have them. Television, movies, it is all so convuluted now. I just found your blog and love it!

SQT said...

What do you mean? Is Hillary Clinton actually Bill in drag?

spyscribbler said...

Yes, so true what you said. And what Charles said. And, sadly, what Travis said.

There's still a generation out there who are very impressed if something is printed. My mother is more impressed with the 4,000 word essay I got published, which took a month to write, than with the years and years of practicing and recitals and performances and teaching.

Go figure, LOL.

Avery DeBow said...

Unfortunately, there are droves of people out there who unblinkingly believe all they hear and see--whether blatant fiction or fiction disguised as truth--because they are told it's the truth, and they don't want to expend the energy in deciding for themselves if it is or not.

And, no, I don't remember that show at all. I'm only familiar with his stint as the Incredible Hulk--and possibly a Love Boat episode?

Kate S said...

Shame on you, Stewart. They were relying on you to pass the cookie of Esther.

I told Mary I thought you wouldn't show.