I once watched a youtube series, Pride and Prejudice remade as a “vlog”, with an actress playing “Lizzie” and retelling the story via first person narration. It was well done and diverting, up until the ending. Darcy and Lizzie didn’t get married, they just started a “relationship”, whatever that is.
It fell flat. There were no sequels, although they were promised. What is Jane Austen without a marriage? This brings to mind country music, with its talk of dirt roads, double-wides, agriculture, alcohol, and heartbreak. Why is it popular? Very few country music fans have probably ever driven on a dirt road. Are they play-acting? Very few Austen fans have ever lived in a society where their prosperity and personal well-being depends solely on a good marriage.
Urbanites living in material prosperity and working email jobs long for something. Is it simpler times? I don’t think so. What they long for is more restricted times. “If we make it through December”, “Good Lord Lori”, Elizabeth Bennet’s need to get married to someone, anyone, give structure to life. It gives a direction that is lacking in our rootless life.
I myself am rereading Tolkien again. I don’t want to fight orcs or journey through the Emyn Muil, but at least then, one knew where one stood! Could the appeal of fantasy literature be similar? The limits, whether cultural or from scarcity, make a life have structure. It makes stories possible. There can’t be heroes’ journeys if there isn’t any particular reason to go on a journey.
Is it the Battle of Verdun for the Media?
In 1916 the French fought the Germans around the town of Verdun. The battle took from February to December. There were perhaps a million casualties (reports are hard to verify from those days). The lines at the end of the battle were much the same as at the beginning.
I’ve been seeing extremely convincing AI video in the last few days. It was already pretty good, but is getting very lifelike. At least as lifelike as TikTok “influencers” ever are. One will be able to make one’s own virtual girl very soon. If you are on the cutting edge, you can do it already! I am told that there are AI OnlyFans models currently working and making money. It seems like an inflection point.
You can’t believe anything you see!
Let me repeat:
You can’t believe anything you see! At least, not anything you see on a screen.
Consider what this does to the media. In 1916 the machine gun met the trench and led to stalemate. The technologies were matched. You could spend lots of lives and gain nothing. In modern media, you can spend lots of money and saturate the market with your images and videos, but nobody will believe them. It’s like the trench and the machine gun. If all videos can be faked by anyone with a laptop, then no videos can be believed. No one sensible will ever believe anything that comes from the news.
The only thing you will be able to believe will be those things that you see with your own eyes or feel with your own fingers. The horizon of information will shrink, just as the horizon of battle shrank to the trench in 1916.
At least, until they get you to put a chip in your head. At that point, you won’t even be able believe your own eyes anymore.