The Vanity of the Bonfire

21 Jun

The problem of our sexually-charged culture goes hand in hand with the reality of our youth-worshiping culture. When you mix these things together, you get swimsuit models and you get Joan Rivers, neither of them real, both of them emblems of our idolatries. You get millions of men and women wasting their lives on a fantasy of eternal youth and beauty and excitement. What we forget is that one day the swimsuit model will be Joan Rivers, unable to beat time no matter how many Botox injections she takes. We also forget that the model we see on the screen or in the magazine is in fact herself a fantasy, airbrushed and touched up to remove all blemishes. The characters of romantic fiction, whether they be sensitive vampires or rough and tumble heroes, are likewise lucrative figments of some author’s mind. We might build our fire with pictures and videos or with trashy novels but one way or another we are nurturing a fantasy, a raging flame of nothingness.

Two factors fan the vain flames in our world: technology and our need for excitement. Indeed these two go hand in hand as well. Technology gives us the opportunity to try to keep aging at bay, through medications and surgery and other means. Technology also freezes fantasy in time, through the screen or the printed page. Technology, with its flashiness, its constant presence and its constant change, also encourages us to want everything to be exciting. We flit from one screen to another all in an attempt find the latest rush, whether it is a sale or a new thing or some piece of gossip.

We are eternal beings living in a culture that is urging us to savor every moment in a worship of self that is leading us nowhere but to an eternal bonfire of vanity.

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