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What is Truly Genuine?
“The Loss of the Creature” by Walker Percy opens up a whole new world of perspectives for the reader. Percy presents various examples, making connections between them of how one loses an experience through the creation of preconceived ideas, where people can only have a true experience of something if all of the social biases and prejudices are ignored. Percy asserts that human beings lose sovereignty of an experience through symbolic complexes and pre-packaged experiences; two distinct works dovetail with his philosophical perspectives. The film, “Grand Canyon,” directed by Lawrence Kasdan compliments Percy’s ideas by exemplifying realizations of genuine experiences through a motion picture, John Berger, in his essay, “The Ways of Seeing,” reinforces Percy’s idea of the loss of sovereignty by discussing how people see and how meanings are manipulated. Walker Percy asserts that preconceived thoughts in one’s mind before an experience result in the loss of authenticity. Percy presents the dichotomy of the discovery of the Grand Canyon by Cardenas, the original discoverer, versus the sightseer. Since the canyon has now been exposed commercially to the rest of the world, when a sightseer views the Canyon, it isn’t “the sovereign discovery of the thing before him; it is rather the measuring up of the thing to the criterion of the preformed symbolic complex” (Percy, 469). When one actually reaches the canyon, he or she will have a preconceived image take over the experience, which can lead to false appreciation. Even naming it the “Grand Canyon” imposes a premature expectation of the visitor, which is not necessary to find its splendor. One cannot have a genuine experience and witness something for what it is because there are always generated opinions that stain peoples’ minds. It is noted that in recent years, “there has been—under the condition of modernity—an erosion of the concept of sovereignty” (Rupesinghe et al., 25). Because of the exposure to generic images and ideas, the true meaning of sovereignty has been falsified and degraded. What was unique and true to the population has been polluted with premature expectations. As a result, the dominance one had over an experience has been taken away. Furthermore, Percy asserts that human beings lose the authenticity of an experience not only through symbolic complexes but also through packaging. Often times, a specialist or an expert guides the course of an experience because of their previous exposure to it. This is packaging. As stated in an article about the goals of a supervisors, “The findings revealed the following themes: respect and responsibility; carefulness and sensitivity; reflection and confirmation; and genuineness and fairness,” meaning one of the main priorities for planners is to provide a genuine, edifying experience for the consumer (Berthold et al.). This is significant because there is a major contrast between what their goals are and what they actually do. Although planners focus on catering a genuine experience, the actual experience that the consumers receive is absolutely artificial. Percy states, “The very means by which the thing is presented for consumption, the very techniques by which the thing is made available as an item of need-satisfaction, these very means operate to remove the thing from the sovereignty of the knower. A loss of title occurs” (6). In other words, although an expert may try to recreate the trueness of an experience, a loss of sovereignty is inevitable. The consumer has absolutely no power over the course of the experience that they are given, only being able to see what they portray. Because the sovereignty remains in the mind of the planner, a layman is only participating in a small portion of what the whole experience could have been. Presently, packaging results in an experience losing its genuineness. With that said, the film, “Grand Canyon,” compliments the concept of loss of sovereignty...
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