The Revolution Issue

Fictitious lives

A loving look at unreality.
Our Lives Are Just Fictions - Grounded not in reality, but in illusion.
In China people get together in the corners of parks and dance. The unofficial history of America is not a story of rugged individualism and heroic personal sacrifice in the pursuit of a dream. It is a story of democracy derailed, of a revolutionary spiri

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We forget too often that our lives are just fictions, that this human life of ours – abstracted from the land, abstract in itself – is not grounded in reality, but in drama, illusion. Our lives are no different from dreams, a scattered blur from one meal to the next, from one conversation to the next, one megaplex, one strip mall, one coffee cup, one beer, one fix – a ceaseless drifting from sensation to sensation, a constant sating of the base desires.

We are raised in this “reality” so its contours are invisible to us. We see each moment but fail to see the unifying thread – the alienation of humanity from nature, the ills of domestication, the dependence of humans upon technological death machines to survive and a growing inability of these generations of young humans now in possession of the planet to connect to it in any living way. We have lost our ability to experience the grander trends as revealed through the almighty Moment. We cling to our petty satisfactions as a paddler fallen from a canoe clings to the rocks. We do not dare to imagine a life without pizza, ice cream, microwaves, transportation, convenience, comfort, ease.

The 21st century has been too kind to us so far. It holds new horizons for us as an übersoul and as an überspecies, but it remains pregnant with disaster. There must be wars, Great Wars, which span all frontiers, in which all are embroiled in conflict: the inner war spilling out into our long-abandoned commons, opening up doorways between men and women to converse freely, tearing down walls between minds and bodies, flesh and the soul. Bottles will be uncorked and men in pajamas will run terrified and buoyant through the streets. If there is not madness, there will be blood, midnight rivers of blood rushing mad like the Mississippi through the markets of the world, stampeding through those who stand still, toppling those who once towered above the meek and lowly, lifting the strong and light, buoying them up on its terrible tide …

—Hudson Spivey

133 comments on the article “Fictitious lives”

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stop clutching at straws, adbusters — stop telling people they are not part of external reality, because you hurt your own cause. you want people to both embrace and revile the world in a manner that some define as 'waking up,' yet you persist in trying to convince people that everything is alien and that life as we know it is false. in seeking to challenge the idea of reality created by the ruling authorities, you enforce it; the system is not the enemy, nor is the state — the enemy is the idea of the system, the idea of the state. as long as you operate within these ideas, you will never achieve your goal of revolutionising the way people think. we cannot eat ideology.

friends of Aris...

Agreed but go easy on ad-busters at least they are doing things on the fringe in terms of subject matter. Yes they can be a bit confined as some of their rhetoric of fight capitalism with revolutionary capitalism permeates beyond their sales campaigns but often they do put together a nice thought piece that inspires.


Have you even been to China? I lived there. Tell me what the young people are doing in the parks and on corners? You might not find them there. They're in some airplane hanger like space, lined up in barcoloungers playing WoW and maybe quite a few of them are writing satirical anti-censorship memes. Who is to say that such a quite literally fictitious world is not the dynamic setting for something that could not even happen in the parks and corners of Beijing.

The writer of this post is creating his own illusion of the life in places 'over there' as well as in the U.S.. Cultures aren't as simply drawn as that, nor with such heavy strokes. If our lives are fictions, who is anyone to judge whether this is right or wrong? My grandfather believes in the flying horsemen, in the Reckoning, in the coming of the marked man, yet he's a gentle soul, and he's done right with his family. People world over see things through many different realities. Perhaps Adbusters should come to some purposeful peace, and attempt to respect the people of the culture from which it sprang, and with tolerant and sympathetic hands work towards constructive change.


Gee, Adbusters, you're crying that we're disconnected but what kind of soultions are you providing? There are way too many doomsayers these days, we need some realists.


The reality is that things are going to get worse before they get better until we fundamentally change are attitude and take action to prevent mounting problems like peak oil, a debt driven economy (watch money as debt), and global warming. All of these are tied together yet none of them seem to be taken seriously enough to do anything about them. All you can do is wait till people get their shit together.

ken vallario

all of this is true...but too many people show an enthusiasm for the fall...and this simply reveals a desire to escape the responsibility we are tasked with by engaging in monkey madness...that will end too...and when it does it will be the result of a group of people who are willing to calmly and rationally discuss serious solutions that address the needs of a diverse species in an ever-increasingly complicated situation. adbusters is being attacked in this commentary, and i think it has something to do with an unwillingness to change...which is kind of ironic. but i sympathize with this, change is being required by us at faster and faster rates, and old notions of 'movements' are giving way to momentary outbursts of unity. it is very disorienting...but adbusters occasionally addresses this too, and i like that, when it does...but this is a troublesome and difficult thing to sustain, which is why we regress into 20th century political maneuvers, that are comfortable, but ultimately useless.
the solution is to remain calm and continue to reach out to one another, and attempt to cross this epochal transformation with as little degradation of our decency as possible. easier said than done...
the blood lust is out there, and those of us who want peace, and see it as the means and the ends, have at least a right to be vocal about it.


I agree with you. Most Americans are so caught up with this "culture of narcissism" propagated by advertisements and the rise of corporatism that they fail to see that it is dividing us as a people. We need to unite again, but what does it take for that to happen? War? Economic collapse? The Republic has been sold a long time ago. The elections are farcical. The people have no real power anymore we live in a "Inverted Totalitarian" society (Wolin 2008). Nobody gives a shit about anything important because we've been conditioned not to ask questions and accept the shit we're given.

ken vallario

united purpose is what all of us are looking for...that is the holy grail...
we have not been conditioned...people are utilizing tools to numb the awareness of our disconnected reality, for which nobody has yet found a solution...
it is important to have compassion for that impulse, while resisting it in ourselves, in order to continue to seek...because when we find the answer, we won't need a revolution, we won't need a movement...we will need help...
of course, many people have wise mechanical solutions, and they are all valid to some point, but nobody has solved the essential psychological problem, that precedes the environmental problem. it is a problem of mind, and it is not a new one, it is very old...but it is magnified by population and growing individual responsibility to the planet...that is very new and very daunting....we have yet to develop an adequate psychological response...


The people who run our media will only give us what we want to see. The external world must provide the catalyst to initiate a psychological revolution. This means that something has to go wrong to the extent that people feel it on an emotional level and then go through the stages of grief and then action. Until we have that external catalyst nothing will change.


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