Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Reality Distortion

When I read  “Steve Jobs” the biography written by Walter Isaacson, I became extremely fascinated by the term  “Distortion of Reality”, the phrase coined and intended for the visionary and icon, the late Steve Jobs who might not  have possessed  the best interpersonal management skills but all that was compensated by his ability to take art and  technology to the level which  his team would not have attained without his resolve and vision.

Steve has a reality distortion field. In his presence, reality is malleable. He can convince anyone of practically anything. It wears off when he’s not around, but it makes it hard to have realistic schedules,” said  the former Apple software engineer Bud Tribble who had adopted the  term  “reality distortion field” from "The Menagerie" episodes in Star Trek series to describe the phenomenon with Steve Jobs.

"The reality distortion field was a confounding melange of a charismatic rhetorical style, indomitable will and eagerness to bend any fact to fit the purpose at hand," said Andy Hertzfeld a fellow Macintosh team member . "Amazingly, the reality distortion field seemed to be effective, even if you were acutely aware of it. We would often discuss potential techniques for grounding it, but after a while most of us gave up, accepting it as a force of nature."

So often we talk about  how one must be realistic in one’s expectation and knows one’s limitations. Here is an icon  in every sense of the word believes that “Nothing is impossible” and pushed his team ahead and accomplish what they had thought was impossible and arrive at what they eventually produced. However the reality distortion field concept could inspire and challenge the individual into doing what he or she would not have thought possible thus bringing about positive advancement and innovation; it could also trick people into believing something that is completely untrue , in other words,  a lie  in which case  might  possibly bring about disastrous results that would not be of use and may even be destructive. We therefore must be aware that the power of our minds are capable of distorting reality in more than one way . At the end of the day it is with conviction and determination that one will triumph .

Art has been an area where one can freely express one’s perception of life and happenings around the world. As the saying goes: “ Life imitating art or art imitating life”. It is  commonly understood that the film makers produce movies which are in many ways reality distortions. I remember being told by a classmate that her strict dad would never allow her to go to the cinema and apparently he said, “ the moviemakers are mad and the movie goers are idiots.” Perhaps he wanted his daughter to stay grounded and not be influenced by what is depicted by the script writers after all life does not end like a movie script . Maybe he did not want his daughter to have misconceptions about life or distorted views of the reality. He must have thought that cinema was a mode of reality distortion.We were in primary school  and even then I felt that it was unthinkable to be deprived of movie going. As a child, I used to look forward to family outings to the cinemas and I would be in tears when my parents and I  could not  catch a movie as the tickets had been sold out.  It might sound trivial and me appearing spoilt that I should sulk when our movie trip was cancelled. I grew up watching movies and love the cinemas; movies take you places visually and emotionally and an enjoyable social outing. Movies and fictions serve our palates for fantasies and fantasies rarely become reality although some of the images and scenes presented by the film maker could bear some resemblance to real life and our experiences. But what my schoolfriend’s dad must have meant was : Movies are illusions and he did not want his daughter to be deluded or have a false perceptions of what reality was.

In films, the morality line may be blurred or re-invented. That is why we have rating for the movies so that the individual can take responsibility for what his or her child can watch.  In the world of cinema, lots of stuff are not factual and for artistic and creative purposes, even official history may be changed to suit the design and ideas of the movie directors and sentiments of the respective scripts. We watch films not in search of the truth, we sometimes watch films to escape from reality and be amused or find humour in the absurdities about life while at other times we hope to be inspired.  Bearing that in mind, why was my friend’s dad so adamant and insistent that  those who watch films were fools? Guess it is not easy to be a parent, you have no idea when a child can distinguish what is real and what is not. Video games are popular and can be addictive. I have heard about real people who find their “soul mates’ through playing computer games and getting to know each other through the characters they were playing as. Perhaps my school friend’s dad did have a point after all. We  cannot be guilty of  indulging in a little imagination  but sometimes the sheer mental force can  carry our minds so far out that the thin line between what is real and what is not  real somehow is displaced.

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