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The Real Thing gets less real

30/09/2013
Real Thing postage stamp

Russell Morris’ song, The Real Thing, has always been special to me. When I first heard it, aged about eight, I suddenly realised what had been happening in my head wasn’t unique to me. Other people had felt it too.

Whenever I’d tried to speak to adults about what I now call either my mystical or psychotic experiences (I had no label for them at all back then) I generally received the sort of vapid, condescending response adults usually give kids when they’re trying to discuss something important. Except for my Mum. She responded with fear and told me to stop talking like that or people would know think I was crazy.

The line “There’s a meaning there but the meaning there doesn’t really mean a thing” seemed particularly significant to me. That says it all doesn’t it? About life. Creation. The mystical experience. The song itself.

I didn’t know The Real Thing was a drug song of course. To a primary school kid in the 60s drugs were something that made you sick and violent – like alcohol only worse – and they were something you should never, ever touch. I wouldn’t have believed for an instant our local radio station was playing songs that cast drugs in a positive light.

It was probably a year or two later I first saw the film clip for it on TV and that confirmed my initial impression there were others who had experiences like mine. A juxtaposition of images. A child stroking a dove. Hitler addressing the Nazi faithful. The launch of a Saturn V rocket. Scenes from the war of my youth. That war. The one that brought horror into the family living room every night and which I always assumed I would be sent to die in when I grew up. And in front, above it all, the singer dancing in unconcerned bliss. That’s how it IS. How all the beauty and all the abominations just come together and they’re all the same really and everything is perfect and blissful. The real thing. Someone else gets it.

In my previous post, What is mysticism?, I linked to what I thought was a YouTube video of the original music video for The Real Thing, but only checked it out yesterday. To my disappointment I discovered it had been ‘updated’. Colourised with psychedelic swirls and spatters to give it that retro 60s feel. But worse was all the contemporary newsreel footage that had been added. Not only did the new material push the performer into the background, blunting the essential subjectivity of the original and turning the viewer into another passive observer, almost all the new footage was negative. There’s brief sequences of celebration when Nelson Mandela is released and when the Berlin Wall is torn down but most of it is war footage, sinister politicians like Saddam Hussein and Margaret Thatcher, horrendously abused orphans in Ceausescu’s Romania. The balance is gone. Instead of it being an exposition of how everything – good and bad – comes together to make a perfect whole it’s a dirge of what’s wrong with the world. Instead of being a song of equanimity rooted in the transcendental The Real Thing becomes one of those ‘fingers-in-my-ears-la-la-la’ songs of ignorance and shallow optimism – epitomising the message of marketing and New Age gurus.

I guess it’s inevitable that a civilisation in decay will pillage its own past to provide fodder for its own banal, mindless message but I’d prefer it hadn’t happened to The Real Thing.

I really liked that song.

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If any of my Pakistani readers want to see the clip I’m talking about just say so in the comments and I’ll post a copy on my local website.

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One Comment
  1. I enjoy the ‘REAlity’ video..and of course agree with the balance and the negative as a necessary component of our human reality to attain the higher levels of light..connectedness..if you will as reference to my last response on your mysticism post…

    But..it seems the video as negative.. as it is only updated through 1989 through the early part of the 90’s..again..it seems…

    What it lacks is the representation of ‘IT’..again with reference of my last response to your mysticism post…

    The freedom of information exchange that the ‘IT’ explosion has ignited in the world is phenomenal in my opinion…

    Even to use the ‘simple example’ of White Pearl’s blog…

    There is no way that the free flow of ‘ideological exchange’ would be attained at the levels they are now without this ‘new age’ of information exchange..again..if you will…

    So..even with censorship..like you tube censorship and other websites..with the shared access as IS..Internationally again..there is the potential for greater understanding between cultures…

    And ultimately a new reign of peace..World Peace even..Eventually…

    That said…

    I have not done anything stronger than Marijuana..drugs do nothing for me..except to numb my already heightened sense of perceptual reality..if you will..again…

    But…

    I have several lifelong friends that have done ACID…LSD..and associated drugs…

    They ALL reference this as the gateway to the ‘real’ reality..again if you will…

    And most agree that i am born with the gateway to get ‘there’ without the drugs…again if you will.. again…

    This place of greater connectivity…

    Per reference from that last comment…

    Again..from your last post….

    As a place generated by a neurological anomaly…

    Again ‘Big time’.. if you will…

    So I AM…

    Born as bliss…

    What….

    Can ONE say…

    It’s only connectivity….

    Again..

    NOW

    ONE

    NOWON

    ONE

    NOW

    Like

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