Sunday, October 12, 2014

Making it Real

I have previously written about truth, reality and perception. Reality is just what is out there. Perception is how we experience what is out there. Truth is that which corresponds to reality. An accurate perception of reality is truth. Sometimes we are mistaken about what we see or hear. We perceive something but we are mistaken about what we perceive and the result is we believe to be true which are not.

Sometimes we can have preconceived notions or ideas which discolor our views of reality. We assume facts sometimes without any foundation for belief. We may have stereotyped views of people or things. These views may be based prior experience, but in fact they may not apply to the person or thing or event we are currently dealing with.  The overall point I am making is that often times for any number of reasons we have inaccurate- that is untrue- views of reality. Reality is that which is, but sometimes we just can not see that which is.

lars-crop.jpg I recently saw a movie which illustrates this point. The title of the movie is Lars and the Real Girl.  I found the story fascinating. The story centers around an extremely shy young man named Lars Lindstrom. Lars is a very shy, socially challenged young man. He hardly ever speaks to anyone; shies away from human touch and avoids human interaction unless absolutely necessary. Lars orders a life sized  doll- a sex doll. Lars creates a back-story for this doll whom he call Bianca. Lars tells his family that Bianca is paralyzed and unable to walk, thus he has a wheelchair for her. Even though Lars purchased Bianca, and received her through the mail, he sincerely believes her to be a real girl, with whom he has conversations. On the advice of the local doctor, his family and friends play along with Lars’ delusion. Over time the people in the town begin to accept and treat Bianca as a real live person.
(You may want to check out Roger Ebert’s review of the film at:

So… reality is that which is.
A doll is a doll - true.  
A girl is a girl - true.
A doll is a girl - false.
Yet Lars believes a doll is a girl. Even stranger is the people that surround Lars begin to treat Bianca as a  real girl (to humor Lars). As a result, she starts to become real in their minds. Now on a certain level they know that Bianca is not real. I suppose way deep down even Lars knows that Bianca is not real, but for Lars the delusion is very deep seated.

Lars and the Real Girl is in a way a re-telling of the classic children’s story The Velveteen Rabbit. In the story the Skin Horse tell Rabbit, “Real isn’t how you are made… “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you  become Real”, (Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit or How Toys Become Real). As people begin to talk to Bianca and treat her as real, then so she becomes real to them. Their perception becomes clouded.

The recent Tom Hanks movie, Castaway, tells a very similar story. In this story FedEx employee, Chuck Noland (Hanks), is marooned on an island in the south pacific. Being all alone for months on end Noland draws a crude face on a volleyball (a Wilson, brand volleyball) and names the ball, Wilson. Wilson becomes real for Noland and becomes his friend and confidant.

We perceive reality through our five senses. But I think that one idea that is expressed through these stories is that whatever comes in through our senses is filtered through our emotions and psyche. Our psyche sometimes takes whatever comes in through our senses and turns it into something different.

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