Pseudologia, Psychedelia, Pareidolia & Phantasmagoria

Pseudologia fantastica is the scientific term for compulsive lying. The person who suffers from it (suffers? or enjoys?) tends to encapsulate himself in a fictional world where he finds his greatest dreams fulfilled. For example, someone devoid of care and love from birth will invent fantastic tales about his heroic exploits: he will make sure he stays in the centre of all this, and he will make sure he receives all the attention. Pseudologia is a harmless little way to stay alive. Pseudologia is a harmless little way to go farther and farther away from suicide. Pseudologia is a harmless little way to face the truth and still be not ashamed of it.

It’s a psychological compensation for all the downfalls and betrayals of your life, unless of course you decide to take it a step further and break the shell for yourself. Even then, it’s a good thing because, now, you’re exposed to the truth, you’re handed a pardon, and given the chance once more to learn for yourself about life and how bland it really is. In my opinion, compulsive lying shouldn’t be given a scientific name and be termed a ‘disease’ or whatever it is. It should be left alone to dominate the psyche of the little man to such an extent that he himself chooses to discard it in favour of the reality. Escapism works only when you want to escape, not when you’re dragged to the other side of the fence by a piece of rope that got hitched to your pants by mistake.

The 70s saw an obsession with the psychedelic genre of everything, although it was most prominently observed in the music of that period. Psychedelia is a state of mind wherein it is trapped in the pursuit of a perception it has not experienced before, and at the end of which is the ‘release’ of the mind from its overbearingly common environs. Many art works, especially those by Mati Klarwein, marked this change through vivid imagery and apparently meaningless depictions of everyday objects.

Mati Klarwein's cover art for Santana's 'Abraxas'.

Mati Klarwein's cover art for Santana's 'Abraxas'.

I really don’t know how one describes a change in experience. If I had had any previous experiences of this sort, I could have done a comparative study to bring out the finer points of both. So, how do you describe a new experience? It has no precedence, it has no cause. It stems from a change in the ways of living of those around you, as well as a change in the times of the nation. In the 1970s, there were a few wars raging around the globe. AIDS was yet to be discovered. Apartheid was coming to a melodramatic close, apart from a few bremstrahlungg events. Women began to awaken to the true meaning of feminism, and why it was important for them to speak up for their rights. The Cold War isolated the north of Asia from the rest of the world. Cuba, by now under the firm grip of Fidel Castro and Marxism, became trapped in its past with mounting economic sanctions from the USA.

As the world assumed a unipolar way of existence, so also the people living in it. The rigidity of trust collapsed into a wall of questions. You either had to belong or defect. And since everyone either belonged or defected, the society itself assumed a polarity: men and women began to look at everything from a newer perspective, one that involved more than just the personality of others, one that involved political ideologies as well. As they drifted more and more from what was, till then, normal, a new order was formed that had each one of us questioning our selves as to who we are. The obsession we had towards being in touch with our peoples, albeit in changing times, saw the birth of psychedelia.


See them staring back at you?

I think I know where perception comes from, and I think I know what a change in our perception is capable of. I can go mad, or I can go genius. And how does that happen? Well, I think it all begins from a change in they way we see things. We perceive them when we establish a relationship with them and, in order to be able to revisit that moment in space and time again, we give the relationship a name. But once we have perceived something, the way we see them is a response to the stimuli of perception. We suddenly lose track of how could respond to what we see or hear. For example, we all know what craters are. And we all know what and where the moon is. But who is ‘the man on the moon’? It’s just a large crater on the moon’s one face, and we have perceived it to be a crater when we found out what craters were. But ‘the man on the moon’ still continues to interest us. We choose to go against the norm and change our perception in order to satisfy ourselves, sometimes our hidden desires. And that’s pareidolia.

If perception is the sight and hearing of our minds, then pareidolia is the voice. It’s your subconscious rhetoric, it’s your utmost degree of expressionism. Pareidolia is the first step towards reformation. No one can simply take things on this lonely planet for granted. Most of them need reason, most of them need a meaning. These are the people afraid of change. But there are some of us who believe in ourselves more than anyone, and these are the people who are indifferent to change: they will always continue to be who they were, because that is their true self. However, there are a few who don’t know what to do. They are stuck in the pages of a paradox, and for them, the grass is always greener on the other side of the field. Like Jack Sparrow says, “A dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest”. For these few people, pareidolia is a tool to change direction. In other words, pareidolia is the birth of revolution.


The lights, the lights!

Phantasmagoria! Although it is more widely attributed to be a cinematographic technique, phantasmagoria is simply the creation of illusions by controlling the direction and amount of light in a point in space. Light, a simple but important part of physics, is what gives us sight, and sight is our primary judge of the truth. Seeing is believing, isn’t it? Have you heard anyone say “hearing is believing”? Or “smelling is believing”? Even if you’re listening to a song over the radio or walking into a confectionery, seeing remains the only way of believing. It has been branded into the pages of our history. A puppet show comes to life only when you forget that they are wooden dolls suspended on strings. You have to stop thinking for yourself if you want to see, for sight is the oldest instrument to perceive the truth. Perhaps something could get in its way, but nothing should if you want to see what you want to see.

If I were to want to corrupt your beliefs on some things, I would first go for your sight. I would have you see ghosts, I would have you see spirits. I would have you base your beliefs in a new world, a world you know exists just by your sight. Phantasmagoria is a device I could use to have you think like me. Phantasmagoria is propaganda. You want to do something, I want to do something else. I am not interested in why you want to do it that way; all I want is for you to join me. And phantasmagoria is a projection of my truth on your wall of dreams. You decide next.

Pseudologia, psychedelia, pareidolia and phantasmagoria all work on the mind. They have evoked the greatest revolutions in art and lifestyle, and they have invoked the most significant changes in our lives.

They call upon us to identify and recognise changes in ourselves, the society and the world. For, without change, the right would remain right, the wrong would remain wrong, and life will wither and rot into death and decay. As much as anyone longs for happiness, and as much as the happiness is imminent and momentary, I will never want to stay stuck in such times. I can know happiness only when I have known sadness, and those elements of life capable of giving me them are always welcome. The only thing I will still always want to ask for is the mind to tolerate and live with them. Only then is it life. Also, what I’ve written is something very metaphorical at times. The semiotics involved is limited, but inside my mind played a movie while I was writing all of this. These four aspects have always intrigued me, aroused my interest in a number of ways. Perhaps, after everything, this is just a madman’s outburst!

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