More Jackson County Opinions...

MAY 12, 2004


By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
May 12, 2004

We’re suffering image addiction
(Note from Virgil: When I was half the age I am now, I could not — would not — have written this column. In the prime of life, image is everything, and you will go to all manner of trouble and expense to put forth a good one. When you grow old, you don’t give a. . . . Well, you don’t care as much.
That may or may not be good, but for most of us old folks, that’s the way it is. Yes, some among the elderly are holding onto their fantasies, and they will go to their graves trying to slow the aging process and look younger than they are. And they will have failed. They won’t look natural, either. You can’t cover up, make up or make over nature. Nature is no image. Nature is real.
Now that I’ve insulted some of my old friends, let’s get on with the column.)
* * *
“No problem” (see April 28th column) ain’t the only problem we’ve got in this country. We also have an image problem. It borders on image addiction. Everybody wants to be something they ain’t. You can’t do that. It is an exercise in futility.
You want to look young again. So you apply another layer of miracle cream to the miracle cream you applied yesterday. I don’t want to be rude, crude, gross and socially unacceptable here, but you look like an ad for a paint store.
You want to appear smarter, more intelligent. So you buy a diploma from one of the diploma mills and hang it on your wall. You are just as stupid as you were before you “graduated.” Maybe more so.
You can tell I’ve got this thing about images. I don’t particularly like ‘em.
Be not content with the appearance of things (images), but look beneath the surface (the masks) to discover their true meaning (the truth). I am indebted to the late Roy Harris, editor of The Augusta Courier, for that thought.
The only way we can cure our image addiction is to get real. First, we need to rid ourselves of the fear of the truth. Didn’t I read somewhere that the truth will set us free?
We have no cause to be afraid of reality. It is not out to get us. It is neither for us nor against us. It is neutral. It is just there. Real.
Accept it, reject it, deny it, try to hide from it, run from it, cover it up, argue with it, love it, hate it — it doesn’t care. It is still there, being real. We can’t get rid of reality. Nor should we want to or try to. Instead, let us concentrate on doing away with all the images that try to hide it.
Perhaps a trip to the dictionary will help. It will reinforce your preference for the real thing as opposed to imitations.
Image is akin to the Latin imatari, to imitate. “A reproduction or imitation of the form of a person or thing; a mental picture of something not actually present.”
I think it is significant that in my dictionary “image” is on the same page as “illusion.”
Illusion: “the action of deceiving; the state or fact of being intellectually deceive or misled.”
Images and illusions not only cover up things; they hide real people from each other. So why don’t we quit wearing masks and rip off those that are cheap and dishonest imitations of who we really are?
Reality: “actual existence; true state of affairs; a real thing; actual fact; truth.”
When we use images to cover up reality, are we not covering up the truth? OK, lying.
In my opinion, one of the biggest lies being perpetrated on the human race is “reality” television. I’ve watched just enough to know it’s not real.
The latest is “Swan,” which I have not seen. I understand that contestants (patients) subject themselves to the plastic surgeon’s knife and other extreme measures in extreme makeovers that go beyond the extreme. I understand that some of the “afters” don’t even recognize their “befores.”
I also understand that the next step is surgery on the contestants’ (patients’) vocal cords to cause the voice to be in harmony with the new look.
I don’t know why, but I’m sitting here remembering an old hymn we used to sing long ago in revival meetings at the little Methodist Church in McLemoreseville, Tenn. (population 311 if you count dogs, cats and chickens.)
“Just as I am, without one plea; Just as I am, tho’ tossed about; Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind.”
I don’t believe Charlotte Elliott (1789-1871) was much into imaging when she wrote that song. Of course, back in Charlotte’s day, imaging was not as important, or prevalent, as it is now. (Oh, how I long for the good ol’ real days!)
I’m also sitting here wondering if politics in this election year of our Lord 2004 didn’t inspire me to get off on this tangent.
Talk about images, illusions, and hallucinations! ‘Tis the season. One side tries to polish its image and the other side tries to tarnish it. One side adds masks and the other side rips them off.
Even old Roy Harris would have trouble digging down through the images to get to the surface. And when he got there he’d find a mess and would be too tired and disgusted to dig for the truth beneath the scum.
We’ve got image problems, folks.
Now, if you will excuse me, I’ve got to see Betty over at the Corner Salon. Got to get a haircut and beard trim. Got to look better than I really am. May pick up some Just for Men stuff on the way home. Beard needs touching up a bit.
No one is immune to image addiction. Not even crabby old weekly newspaper columnists who rail against them.
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.

Jackson County Opinion Index


By: Oscar Weinmeister
The Commerce News
May 12, 2004

A Portent Of Things To Come
In the last week or so, in spite of the fact that he doesn’t yet have a tooth, our 8-month-old Turner has begun to exhibit some rather alarming behavior. If I were to sum it up, I’d say, “He wants what he wants, and damn the torpedoes and other pointed household items, he’s going to get what he wants.”
This behavior, you have to understand, comes from the diaper-soaking individual that until recently has done little but eat, grin, and sleep. When his older brother Jack was younger, we used to refer to him as Mr. Blob, but Turner has out-blobbed his predecessor by miles. If Jack was Mr. Blob, Turner was the Six-time Mayor of Blobtown. Twelve hours of sleep a night every night, for starters, and that’s no lie. Then he’d sit around smiling and cooing until we fed him, and then he’d coo some more until he got sleepy, and we’d put him down for a three-hour nap.
Now, and this coincides with his limited mobility, which is not quite a crawl and not quite a rubbing of his face in his own spit up on the carpet, he decides he wants a toy or a handful of dog hair or brother Jack’s food sitting unattended on the dented aluminum $1 Muppet tray very close to the floor, and he somehow figures out a way to get there regardless of the distance involved or the obstacles he must circumvent. This endeavor involves a lot of grunting, squealing, spinning around on his belly, spitting up, and then taking breaks with his arms and legs thrown back in the air like a skydiver. When he gets where he’s going, he tries to eat whatever it is he was after: toy, dog hair or Muppet tray.
He’ll be lying on his changing table looking at you peacefully like he did in the old days, when suddenly he’ll notice a savory-looking stuffed animal five feet away on the bed, and while you’re looking the other way trying to make sure the slightly used diaper wipe lands in the trash can, he lunges. The child simply has no fear. If he was on a dock and he spotted some object he surmised would make for a good gnawing session on a boat fifty yards away in choppy shark-infested water, he’d go for it.
While I admit that we’re excited to see Turner actually do something, we are experiencing a considerable amount of trepidation about what the future holds if his current approach to life persists. As typical WASP-ish parents, we are worried that we will eventually spend thousands of dollars on some kind of teen-targeted therapy to get Turner to realize that his actions have consequences. And we speculate that at this rate, we’ll spend an equal amount to help Jack cope with all the toys of his that ended up caked in his sibling’s saliva.
Then again, there could be reason for a little hope, a little ray of light. Maybe, just maybe, Turner will mellow a little once he cuts a few teeth.

Oscar Weinmeister is the assistant administrator of BJC Medical Center. He lives in Commerce.
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