Tag Archives: Illusion and Reality


A lot of interest here has been about blogs on ‘illusionist’ and hypnotist Derren Brown. Watching the second part of his ‘Apocalypse’ is a good chance to plug that great thriller, that does not have the power to push itself, The Godhead Game, based around this year’s supposed ‘Apocalypse’, the end of the Mayan Long Count calendar, this December, 2012. (Available but flopping on Amazon.) It’s point is precisely the opposite of ends of the world, since, for all the violence or fear, life and energy are very hard to destroy, as are repeating stories.

Perhaps Derren Brown is a kind of modern saint, though having dabbled in religion, or perhaps feeling a victim to it, he would probably hate the word. But the push and premise of his programme, and ‘set up’ of a character who faced a created Apocalypse, and the ‘infected’, was exactly right, and deeply human, namely to test and bring out the best in his ‘subject’. The lingering question at the end though, namely do we actually need fear, as the spin of the coin on which we all exist, succeed or fail, was immediately preempted by the announcement of the coming programme about faith; Religion: Faith and Fear. The ‘problem’ with the programme was that it already drew on well established cultural ‘clichés’, in all those zombie films. Indeed the set up was an exact replay of one infection and zombie film. Fine, it exactly reflects why such dramas are made themselves.

Which feeds into the question of what drama is for and why talking of science or faith is so much just about language. Derren Brown pushes the boundaries of illusion, hypnotic control, studies of the psyche and what reality really is, if anything at all, to the limits, and there too is his genius. Perhaps he will try to touch what it is very hard to answer, namely is there truth in ‘Jungian’ ideas, that involve such notions as some ‘Collective Unconscious’, that may not be an individual experience alone of dreams, or the powerful unconscious or subconscious, perhaps controlled by a brain centre that can be hypnotised and controlled to an extraordinary extent. To the extent it can stop the nerve functions and make a body in ice cold water think it is in a warm bath, and will actually die. Then that is no more remarkable than dysfunctions people are born with, so that they do not have ‘ordinary’ nerve functions at all, which itself questions what any reality is. But the wider question is what any social reality is too, and what is happening all around us, even in the entertainment staged down a TV screen, as so much is created to advertise or control.

Still, Brown is both a genius and very exciting and inspiring about what he seeks to challenge and examine about a ‘reality’ we all appear to share, but is always so much about illusions, in our experiences and perceptions of the ‘outside world’ and an inner world too. He is doing what that Hollywood movie ‘The Game’ did and would it not be wonderful if we all played that ‘game’ with each other, but to heal and to bring out the most extraordinary in each one of us? The question, as both animal and ‘Man’, is do we need enemies and fear, and what vision and growth exists beyond that when the walls really come tumblin’ down? For those ‘loonies’ who talk some Mayan truth, for whatever reason, perhaps there are always higher states of consciousness.


ps Just to be a little tedious the Greek meaning of Apocalpsye is not those four horsemen at all, but something revealed.

1 Comment

Filed under Culture, Education