Beyond the Suspension of Disbelief


There is no real, there is no imaginary except at a certain distance. What happens when this distance, including that between the real and the imaginary, tends to abolish itself? – Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation

I believe I have at long last unlocked the SHOW: the defining predicament of the post real. I had already determined that the post reality was the loss of separation between that which is real and that which is not, in which we have come to live in the nebulous space between the real and the imaginary, no longer aware of any distinction or demarcation between the two.

Now the next step, resolving an idea I had many years ago when I created my own virtual government agency, the US Department of Art & Technology. That is, the rather romantic idea of going “beyond the suspension of disbelief,” all the world’s a stage, ours for the taking. I had always thought of this as the extrusion of the make-believe, the dream, the fantasy, into the real world.

But here is the realization: in order to suspend disbelief, there needs to be an anchored reality that is set apart from the imaginary. When this distinction is blurred, when we no longer differentiate between the real and the virtual, when the two poles of our existential being have interpenetrated one another, how can you possibly suspend disbelief when there is no longer concrete reality to suspend?

When the imaginary has collapsed into the real, then in essence, “beyond the suspension of disbelief” means that there is no longer any need or cause to suspend. All is a SHOW, all is believable, because nothing is real. This is the state of things today, our media has infiltrated itself into our nerve endings and through our blood stream. So we now refer to an imaginary untethered, a complete and total “otherness,” a vast “thirdness” of the in-between, the post real: infinitely far and “beyond the suspension of disbelief.”