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If we just stopped obsessing over copies, maybe we'd see the original

More than a decade ago, when my daughter was beginning her studies in art history at a renowned university, one day she explained to me that her professors, when they taught about certain works, never did so based on copies, reproductions, or photographs, but only in the originals. That way, knowledge was focused only on the original work.

This lesson can and should be applied to all aspects of our lives since we have become so accustomed to seeing copies, reproductions, and images that, due to that same habit, we no longer have any relationship with the originals and, even worse, we accept those distorted and diminished versions as if they were the originals.

That is why, for example, we confuse wealth with money, friends with “I like it”, knowledge with wisdom, power with authority, and, in more general terms, the menu with food and the map with the territory.

And, although genetically speaking, it could be said that each one of us is only a copy of a copy of a copy, and so on, of some "original" ancestor of which we know little or nothing, that fact of being "copies of copies" It shouldn't be the reason for our whole world to become "copies of copies" as well. But that is exactly what happens.

Someone recently told me that he had had the opportunity to visit several major tourist sites, including the Eiffel Tower, the canals of Venice, and even the pyramids in Egypt. As he continued to speak, it became clear that this person had visited Las Vegas and seen replicas of those places, but certainly not the originals.

Something similar happens with the so-called "interactive experiences" of great works of art where, for example, the images of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel are reproduced digitally. And while seeing a reproduction of Michelangelo's great creations is better than seeing none, that's not the point. The point is to believe that by seeing the copy one has seen the original.

This topic is so old, in fact, that it seems to have been one of the topics that gave rise to Greek philosophy some 2,500 years ago, when Heraclitus, Parmenides, Plato, and others devoted long debates and thoughtful treatises to distinguishing between reality and reality. illusion, the permanent and the fleeting, the eternal and the temporary, the immutable and the mutable, and, ultimately, to be and not to be.

Two and a half millennia after those origins, not only have we not advanced, but perhaps the situation has worsened now that we constantly have a screen in front of us (a kind of technological and portable version of Plato's Cave) that constantly invites us to accept fantasy as the only reality. That is why, for example, there are people who believe that "Titanic" is just a movie and that it never happened in real life.

This is clear: if the illusion (fantasy) is the only thing we know, then that illusion will inevitably be all our reality.


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